Surprising Medical Conditions That Could Bar You From Service
Its no surprise that service members must be in good physical shape to serve in the military. However, there are some medical conditions that you might not know can bar you from service.
The military lays out certain physical requirements that those wishing to serve must meet, and recruits must undergo a medical exam. When joining, they must also disclose significant medical conditions.
Sometimes waivers from medical professionals are an option for certain medical conditions, particularly ones that relate to eyesight and weight. However, others like depression and Crohns disease are likely to disqualify you from service, especially if they have affected your education or employment in the past.
It is important to note that many conditions are not always permanently disqualifying and should not dissuade potential applicants. Recruiters and military doctors will determine if they will affect your duties.
Here are eight surprising medical conditions that might prevent you from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces:
1. Food Allergies
If you have a history of food allergies, you might be disqualified from joining the military. This is because service members can serve in locations that do not have a wide variety of food options or that do not have easily accessible medical care in the case of reactions. Recruits who are merely sensitive to certain foods will not be disqualified.
2. Celiac Disease
3. Contact dermatitis
5. Braces or dental ailments
6. Motion sickness
Can You Take Antidepressants In The Military
In the past, the military has disqualified just about any medication related to mental health.
However, the current policy is a little different.
It generally disqualifies anyone that is or has taken medication for mental illness in the last year.
If its been more than a year you may receive a waiver but the military will need to examine your medical records and speak to your physician.
The rules apply to medications like Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Wellbutrin.
However, that doesnt stop the military from reportedly prescribing antidepressants to a surprisingly high number of active-duty soldiers.
Its worth pointing out that some people advise not mentioning any previous mental health diagnoses or medications to a recruiter, as well as MEPS.
The decision is up to you, but some strongly believe that what isnt known doesnt hurt anyone.
However, the military has ways of finding out if the mental health condition is on your medical records.
Navy Medical Waiver Process
The Department of Defense established the medical standards for every branch of the military.
Therefore, the admission standards are the same for every military branch .
However, each military branch handles the medical waiver process a little differently.
A medical exam takes place at the Military Entrance Processing Station .
New recruits spend their first few days of basic training at MEPS making sure they pass all the medical requirements.
Before you reach MEPS youll complete the form Medical Prescreen of Medical History Report.
The prescreen application is provided by a Navy recruiter to check for any conditions that might not make you fit for service.
Its tremendously important not to lie on your medical prescreening or during your time at MEPS.
Several health conditions make military service difficult yet not impossible which means you could qualify for a medical waiver.
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Disqualifying Mental Health Conditions
According to the Department of Defense, you’re disqualified from serving in the U.S. military if you have a current diagnosis or a history of most mental disorders. The presence of any disorder with psychotic features, such as schizophrenia or a delusional disorder, does not allow one to serve.
You’re also disqualified if you have bipolar disorder or affective psychoses. For depressive disorders , disqualification from the service occurs if a person had outpatient care that lasted for more than 12 months or any inpatient care. A person with a depressive disorder must be stable, without treatment or symptoms for a continuous 36 months, to be eligible to enlist.
For anxiety disorders , a person cannot enter the armed services if they needed any inpatient care, or outpatient care for more than 12 months cumulatively. They must not have needed any treatment for their anxiety disorder in the past 36 months. Other disqualifying mental health conditions include:
Disturbances of conduct, impulse control disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or other personality or behavior disorders characterized by frequent encounters with law enforcement agencies, and antisocial attitudes or behavior also warrant disqualification from service. Likewise, a person may be disqualified from enlisting if their personality, conduct, or behavior disorder is believed to be a serious interference in adjusting to the military.
Applying For A Medical Waiver To Join The Military
Once you get your 2807-2 back from MEPS and you look through the TDQ or PDQ they gave you, you will need to prepare your case for a medical waiver. Basically, you will need to get a doctor or medical specialist to review each item for which you received a TDQ or PDQ. The doctor will need to write a note on his or her letterhead with the date, your medical history for that condition, your current condition, and whether or not you are physically capable of serving in the military, based on his or her assessment.
You will need to pay for the medical examinations our of your pocket. The military will not cover this expense.
Once you have these letters, you will need to submit them and a new 2807-2 to your recruiter. Your recruiter will then start the waiver process by sending the forms and supplemental information to the Surgeon Generals Office for your branch of service. The Surgeon Generals Bureau may or may not request additional information.
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If Ive Previously Been Disqualified From Meps Can I Try Again
You cannot enlist with a permanent medical disqualification without an approved waiver.
The first step in a military medical waiver process is receiving a recommendation from a doctor at MEPS.
If the doctor recommends you for a waiver then you still have a shot at receiving approval.
However, there is no opportunity for an appeal if the doctor fails to recommend you at MEPS.
Once a doctor at MEPS makes the recommendation its passed to a recruiting commander for the military branch you are seeking to join.
Each military branch handles medical waiver reviews differently but usually goes through several layers of approval.
Its possible to have a second opportunity at MEPS though it depends on the health condition.
Can You Join The Military With Ptsd
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder disqualifies you from military service in most cases.
The problem with PTSD is that the disorder is often linked to serious trauma like what you might experience serving the Armed Forces.
Therefore, serving the military might only make symptoms worse.
You should avoid service to find more effective ways to cope with the disorder.
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Effects On Service Members
While currently having mental health conditions or a history of a serious mental disorder technically prohibits military service, research data suggests that many are skirting the rules. A study published in 2014 found that 25% of non-deployed U.S. military members had some sort of mental disorder, including panic disorder, ADHD, or depression. Two-thirds of these had their conditions prior to enlisting.
The study also found that more than 11% of U.S. military enlistees had more than one disorder. Interestingly, intermittent explosive disorder was one of the most common conditions found.
How are people getting around the rules? It’s not entirely clear, but people find ways to circumvent the regulations, most in the vein of, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The problem lies not in the disregard for the rules, but in the risk to the person who enlists. For instance, in the 2014 study, enlistees who had mental disorders prior to enlisting were more likely to have difficulty performing their job. In addition, the rules make it unlikely that someone who develops a mental health condition in the military will seek appropriate help.
Rules for military pilots are even stricter than those for general armed forces enlistment.
Army Medical Waiver Process
The United States Army carries forward many of the same procedures at MEPS as the other military branches.
Some argue that the Army is less selective because it has the highest enrollment of the military branches.
Therefore, the possibility of receiving a medical waiver might improve with the odds but at the end of the day it still comes down to the medical condition.
There are some conditions the Army is willing to accommodate and support because of others.
In every case where a medical waiver is not approved, it generally is because the condition could serve as a safety or liability hazard for you or the fellow soldiers in your platoon.
Its important to remember that many medical conditions listed under the Department of Defense guidelines are not permanently disqualifying.
There is a difference between temporary and permanent disqualifications:
- Temporary Disqualification: Temporary disqualifications might cause a delay in admission yet doesnt qualify as a permanent decision. For example, someone that broke an arm receives a temporary disqualification until the condition gets corrected.
- Permanent Disqualification: Conditions that require surgery, or will never go away, represent permanent disqualifications. Its basically anything that cannot get undone. However, it doesnt mean in all cases that you cant serve the military but youll need to apply for a waiver and take measures to correct or improve the condition.
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Do Raf Check Medical Records
All candidates who wish to join the Royal Air Force have an assessment to determine whether they satisfy tri-Service and single Service medical entry standards. The report received from your GP will be scanned into an electronic recruiting medical record held by the contractor and will be reviewed by a contractor ME.
Applying For A Medical Waiver Get Familiar With The Dodi
Once your 2807-2 has been rejected by MEPS and you have been given a PDQ, you can start the process of applying for a medical waiver . Not all medical conditions are eligible for a medical waiver.
To get a head start on the waiver process, you should get familiar with the DODI , also known as the DoDI 6130.03 . This is the official document used by MEPS doctors to determine medical eligibility for military applicants.
If you received a PDQ, it should include a PULHES Code, or PULHES Factor, which is a standardized medical code used to rate your physical condition. You can use these codes to look up your condition in the DODI to see if the condition are waiverable.
Important: This is where you need to step up and do some research. Most recruiters dont have the time to hold your hand through the application process. Spending time on your end will make it easier for your recruiter to work with you to help you get a waiver. Remember, each recruiter is different, and most are willing to work with you if you are willing to work with them. And helping them with their job shows you are dedicated and motivated to join the military.
Unfortunately, not all medical conditions are waiverable
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Depression In Your Medical Record
The writers at the National Institute of Mental Health described depression as a common but serious mood disorder. Individuals with depression suffer from feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, often accompanied by emotions of sadness, pessimism and irritability. This persistent low, empty mood can then drive changes in behavior, such as loss of interest in normal activities, an increased sense of tiredness or fatigue or brain fog that can make it difficult to concentrate.
Most people consider depression being sad about something, but thats really only one piece this association can mean individuals who are actually suffering from depression but dont feel sad can go undiagnosed for years.
Depression is usually treated with a combination of medications and some sort of therapy. Some types of depression are caused by a lack of certain chemicals in the brain in these cases, medication can help to stabilize brain chemistry, which can help some individuals in recovery. In other cases, a psychotherapeutic approach is recommended, sometimes alongside medication. Therapy for depression doesnt always involve evaluating the past looking for causes newer types of therapy instead focus on helping the individual manage the symptoms of depression.
Navy Disqualifying Medical Conditions
Here are some of the medical conditions that require a waiver to continue and serve in the U.S. Navy.
Some of these conditions make it harder to receive a medical waiver.
Notwithstanding its still possible to receive clearance:
NOTE: The U.S. Navy recently adapted its medical waiver process. You can learn more details about the revised policy, including the opportunity to request a second medical waiver review, here!
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How Long Does A Military Medical Waiver Take To Get Approved
Its difficult to set an accurate timeframe for military medical waivers.
There are several factors to take into account, and much of the timeframe depends on the type of medical condition and the severity of the issue.
Often, a military medical waiver needs to pass varying levels of approval before you are granted permission to enlist.
In general, expect at least two weeks to a month to hear back on a military medical waiver.
Psychological Health Services In The Military
Psychological health services are provided under DOD’s Military HealthSystem, which serves 9.7 million service members, retirees, and familymembers. There are two broad types of care: direct care at militarytreatment facilities, and contract care sponsored under DOD’s TRICAREinsurance plans .Service members in a war theater have the additional benefit of an embeddedpsychological health professional who can perform the initial treatment forcombat stress and PTSD in theater. Having embedded psychological healthprofessionals also serves to reduce the stigma that deters soldiers fromseeking and receiving psychological health care.
Under TRICARE, all of the main types of inpatient and outpatientpsychological health services are available, including psychotherapy, suicide prevention, psychological testing,medication management, tele-mental health, acute inpatient psychiatric care,psychiatric partial hospitalization, and residential treatment. To receivepsychological health services through TRICARE, active-duty service membersmust obtain referrals from their military hospital or clinic . Family members andother TRICARE beneficiaries do not need referrals or prior authorization forthe first eight outpatient sessions per fiscal year . Prior authorization and limits onthe number of annual days of care apply to acute inpatient care, residentialtreatment, and partial hospitalization .
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Mental Health And The Military
It can be difficult to talk about mental health conditions due to the stigma surrounding them, as well as the number of people who come to incorrect and harmful conclusions about certain mental illnesses. However, these issues have increasingly become part of our discussion about overall health and wellness. According to the team from the National Alliance on Mental Illness , one out of five adults in the United States experiences some kind of mental illness during their lifetime for one in 20 adults, its a serious condition.
At a basic level, having dealt with any kind of mental health issue may prevent you from being able to enlist. However, there are a set of qualifiers and conditions that can change things, depending on your situation. If youre considering joining the Army and youve dealt with some sort of mental health condition, its important to be aware of your chances and what you may need to provide for consideration.
Other Designated Physical And Mental Conditions Discharge
The military may discharge for other designated physical and mental conditions servicemembers who have conditions that do not qualify for a disability discharge, but that potentially interfere with assignment to or performance of duty. Personality disorders are the most common grounds for discharge under other designated physical and mental conditions . In addition to personality disorders, grounds for discharge can include: seasickness, bedwetting, airsickness, sleep walking, certain allergies, severe nightmares, severe stuttering, obesity, and excessive height.
Consider seeking an ODPMC discharge if you experience emotional distress, difficulty in coping with military life, or an inability to behave and think as you would like to behave and think. While personality disorders are fairly complex, and real diagnoses can only come from a psychiatrist or psychologist, lay people can identify common symptoms and help to determine whether psychiatric evaluation is warranted. Common symptoms of some personality disorders include feeling depressed, helpless, or out of control, difficulty sleeping or inability to cope with work or people, or occasional thoughts of suicide.
A personality disorder is grounds for discharge only when a diagnosis by a psychiatrist or psychologistconcludes that the disorder is so severe that the members ability to function effectively in the military environment is significantly impaired. )
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Beginning The Medical Exam Process
The process starts when you complete the medical pre-screening form at the recruiter’s office. The recruiter sends this up to MEPS, asking for a medical examination appointment. Now, MEPS does not belong to any particular branch of service. It’s what’s known as a joint command and operates independently from all service branches.
A doctor at MEPS reviews the form. If there are any potentially disqualifying medical conditions listed, MEPS may contact the recruiter to ensure you bring a copy of your civilian medical records relevant to the condition with you to the examination.
Sometimes the doctor doing the review will determine you have a medical condition that is disqualifying with little or no chance of a waiver. In such cases, MEPS may disqualify you on the spot and refuse to do the medical examination. If this happens, your journey into military service has ended. There is no appeal to this decision. It is technically possible for the recruiting commander of the service you’re trying to join to go over MEPS to request a medical waiver from their medical command, but this is rare.
Once your medical examination is complete, you are determined to be either “medical qualified for military service,” or “medically disqualified for military service,” according to the medical standards set by DoD.