How to Get a Medical Waiver to Join the Military (Podcast 012)

Several years ago, I joined the Air National Guard after a long break in service. However, I had to apply for medical waivers before I was able to join the military. This article and podcast show you how the medical waiver process works, how to research which medical conditions are eligible for waivers and which are not, and how to apply for medical waivers to join the military.
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Joining the military is not like joining any other organization. The application process to join the military is unlike almost any other job application process. Before you can join the military, you need to fill out a host of forms and documents, including your health history and a background check. Today, we’re going to focus on your health history.

How to get a medical waiver to join the military

Whether you are applying to the military for the first time or you are thinking about going back in after a break in service, you need to fill out a medical prescreen form called the 2807-2 Medical Prescreen of Medical History Report (PDF) before you can apply to take a military physical. There are many reasons for this, but the big one is to save everyone a lot of time and money. The military has strict health requirements to ensure those joining the military are physically fit for service.

How to Fill Out Form 2807-2

The form has instructions printed on it. That said, you want to take your time when filling it out. It is very in-depth, and you want to ensure it is accurate before you submit it to your recruiter. Your recruiter will then submit your 2807-2 and other information to MEPS, the Military Entrance Processing Station. This is the command that processes all military entrance physicals.

If you mark “yes” on anything in section two, you must submit supporting information. It is highly recommended you submit supporting documentation from a medical professional stating your condition and that you are fit for service. Failure to do so will increase the chances your 2807-2 is kicked back to you with a medical disqualification. You may still get medically disqualified, but including the information will help smooth the process when applying for a medical waiver.

Please don’t lie on your military application. It’s a federal offense and can lead to major problems if discovered. And if you somehow slip through the cracks and are later caught, you could be dishonorably discharged. It’s just not worth it!


Permanent and Temporary Disqualifications

MEPS will either accept or decline your prescreen request. If it is accepted, you will be able to process through MEPS, where you will take a physical that you will either pass or fail. If your 2807-2 is declined or you fail your physical at MEPS, you will receive either a Temporary Disqualification or a Permanent Disqualification. Don’t let those terms scare you away.

A Temporary Disqualification means the physical condition is temporary, and you cannot process through MEPS because of the medical condition. This could be something as simple as a broken finger. They can’t allow you to join the military with a broken bone. But it is classified as a temporary condition because it will heal. A TDQ will delay your request to process for a military physical until your condition has healed and you can prove the condition no longer affects you.

A Permanent Disqualification is for a medical condition that is permanent. A surgery is a permanent condition because it cannot be undone. A surgery doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot serve, it just means MEPS cannot process your 2807-2 without additional information. There are other reasons for a PQD, and each situation will be unique. Some issues are eligible for a medical waiver, while others are not.

If you fail your MEPS physical or your Medical Prescreen Form (2807-2) is kicked back with a medical disqualification, then you may, or may not, have the option to apply for a waiver, depending on the reason(s) for your PDQ(s).


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 (if your condition is waiverable). 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 (Department of Defense Instruction for Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment or Induction in the Military Services), also known as the DoDI 6130.03 (PDF). 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(s). You can use these codes to look up your condition(s) in the DODI to see if the condition(s) are waiverable.

This is where you need to step up and do some research. Most recruiters don’t 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. Every 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.


Some Medical Conditions Aren’t Eligible for Waivers

I wish I could tell you that all you had to do to get a waiver approved was fill out a form, tell the military you are a hard worker and get a couple character references. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

The military has some very firm standards for which types of medical waivers they will and will not approve. The decision is completely out of your hands, and in many cases, you cannot appeal the decision.

I won’t try to list all the medical conditions for which you cannot receive a waiver, because it is extensive. Some common maladies include having a history of asthma, ADD (if taking certain medications), diabetes, drug dependency, severe nut allergies (especially peanuts), problems with certain organs, certain skin conditions and more. The best thing to do is download a copy of the DODI mentioned above, and research your medical conditions.

Again: There are some conditions for which there are no waivers.

Applying for a Medical Waiver to Join the Military

Once you get your 2807-2 back from MEPS and you look through the TDQ(s) or PDQ(s) 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 out 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 General’s Office for your branch of service. The Surgeon General’s Bureau may or may not request additional information.

The Medical Waiver Process Can Be Time-Consuming

I had to get medical waivers to join the Air National Guard the waivers were required because I had two knee surgeries while I was on active duty. Because I had a history of surgery, I needed to get a physical from an orthopedic surgeon who looked at my health history, gave me an exam and stated I was physically fit to serve again. The process for me to join the ANG took about six months from start to finish. It went like this:

  • Submitted 2807-2. It was declined by MEPS with multiple PDQs.
  • Researched PULHES codes in DODI. Realized each condition was waiverable.
  • Set up medical appointments with specialists.
  • Got exams and letters from doctors on their letterhead.
  • Resubmitted 2807-2 with appropriate letters from doctors.
  • MEPS again declined 2807-2. My recruiter then sent in the 2807-2 and my doctors’ letters to the Surgeon General’s Office and requested a medical waiver to take the MEPS physical.
  • Waiver approved; scheduled physical at MEPS.
  • Physical declined by MEPS (this will happen almost 100% of the time because of the PDQs). My physical was good with the exception of the items we already knew about. MEPS recommended a medical waiver based on my physical and supporting documentation.
  • MEPS forwarded my physical and all documentation to the Surgeon General’s Office for a waiver.
  • Waiver approved.

This process can take months, depending on the complexity of your case, your medical conditions, how long it takes to get your medical exams and letters, how busy MEPS and the SG’s office are and other factors. (The summer is the worst time because this is when MEPS processes thousands of recent high school and college graduates.)

There is No Appeal Process if Your Waiver is Denied

You either get a medical waiver or you don’t. You can’t appeal. The Surgeon General’s office is the appeal. If they deny you the opportunity to serve, then that is the final answer. Writing to your member of Congress or senator won’t enhance your chances of joining the service. It just won’t happen.

Depending on your medical condition, there may be other options you can try. Each branch of the military — including the Guard and Reserves — has a different Surgeon General’s Office. If you have a borderline case, you may consider joining another branch of service. You might even consider a career in the Guard or Reserves instead of joining on active duty.

But be careful not to waste everyone’s time. If your condition is not waiverable, don’t go through the application process again. The only time it is worth going through this process again is if you have medical conditions that are waiverable, but for one reason or another, the branch you applied to decided not to accept you at this time.

There are reasons this can happen. For example, if some branches of the military aren’t having trouble meeting their quotas, they may not need to take someone with a history of health conditions. All things being equal, they will take the person who doesn’t require waivers. (it’s faster, easier, and cheaper to get this person into uniform, and historically, they are more likely to finish training).

But some other branches may be having a more difficult time meeting their quotas, or they may be more open to putting prospective troops through the waiver process. So you may have luck applying to a different branch of the service or applying to the Guard or Reserves. In fact, I have heard it can be easier to join the Guard and Reserves if you need medical waivers. Again, it’s only worth pursuing this avenue if your medical condition(s) are waiverable.

Final note: Please do not try to apply to more than one branch of the military at the same time. It will cause red flags in the system and may prevent you from being able to join. Exhaust all options with your first application before trying to apply to a different branch of the military. Best of luck!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Ryan Guina says

    Comments on this thread are now closed.

    There are over 150 comments and questions on this page. Unfortunately, I am unable to answer further questions on this topic.

    This guide was written based on my personal experiences when requesting a medical waiver to join the military. I have done my best to outline the military medical waiver process to the best of my ability.

    However, I do not work for MEPS, and I am not a medical professional. I have no further insight into the process other than what has been laid out in the article above. So I cannot answer questions about specific medical conditions or hazard any guesses regarding whether or not a waiver will be granted.

    My Recommendations:

    – Please read through this article carefully and take notes (or print it out!).
    – Work closely with your medical professional to get the required documentation.
    – Work closely with your recruiter and the MEPS office to ensure they have the required paperwork.
    – Keep your recruiter in the loop if anything changes or you have additional paperwork or forms. Address all questions through your recruiter – he/she is your link to MEPS.

    I will be happy to make any required changes to this article for accuracy or policy changes. If you discover any, please use my Contact Form.

    But please, do not use the Contact Form to ask specific questions about your waiver application. The best person to ask is your recruiter.

    Thank you for understanding, and I wish you the best in your journey to joining the military!

  2. Jeremy says

    I am prior service. ARMY 11b. Airborne. I have stretched ears; I had stretched ears when I was in the ARMY. My military record is perfectly clean. Not a single article 15. Not a single negative counseling. I want to re-enlist. My physical condition exceeds requirements. How can I request a waiver for my ears? There must be a way.

  3. Micheline says


    I have my PULHES codes but when I did a search in the DODI 6130.03, it didn’t pull up any of the codes. I”m trying to find out if these conditions are waiverable or not but am having a hard time doing that. If I google the code, it tells me what it is/stands for and I can find it in the instruction, but but not whether or not it’s waiverable, only that it is disqualifying. Now, MEPS has PDQ’d me for these codes, but per your article, that doesn’t mean that the conditions aren’t waiverable. Any ideas on where I can look the codes up to find out if a waiver is even a possibility?

    Thanks so much!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Micheline, Thank you for contacting me. I recommend working with your recruiter to get this question answered. They should be able to contact MEPS and help you get a better idea of whether or not it is waiverable, and if so, what documentation or tests are needed.

      I hope this points you in the right direction!

  4. Mike says

    My Request to Physical was forwarded by the MEPS CMO to the OTSG. My recruiter said this was good news. Was just curious to what degree this was positive. Thanks. Applying for Army Reserve, 66S

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Mike, It’s completely case by case. At this moment, your recruiter is the only person who has any insight into your application. And that visibility is limited while the waiver application is at MEPS. Your recruiter should get back with you as soon as he or she has more information from MEPS.

      Sorry I can’t offer a more concrete answer, but this is a closed loop. Best wishes with joining the Army Reserves!

      • Mike says

        Thanks Ryan for the timely response.

        Still waiting to hear. Not sure if that is good but I’ll go with no news is good news.


  5. Noe says

    I just jumped to this article and I find it fascinating. I was disqualified by meps to join the US Army because I’m immune to TB virus since baby but it doesn’t mean i have TB, I’m waiting for the waiver to know if I’ll have the possibility to serve or not. Do you think my issue is waiverable?

  6. Jackie says

    hello I was wondering if you could give e some advice. I recently tried joining the air force and got disqualified for lordosis. I got an x-ray taken at an army base by a young army soldier. He did the x-ray three times because he kept messing up. And i got a letter saying I was permanently Disqualified. I never even knew I had it because I never really had back problems. I called my recruiter the same day I got the letter and he said he never even got a letter or a call about my status and that he’d give me a call once hes able to give me some answers. It’s been three months and I’ve been seeing a physical therapist and from the beginning she said that my spine wasn’t really curved and that as long as I’m doing my stretches and working out enough I would be 100% fine because I was out of shape and my body was stiff from never really stretching. I’m just wondering if there’s hope on me being able to try to re enlist and end up getting a waiver. But i’d have to find a different recruiter since mine dropped me and wont contact me back.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jackie, Thank you for your question. I cannot comment on specific medical conditions – only the process.

      You may be able to work with a different recruiter, but you would need to let him or her know up front about your situation – don’t leave anything out as that will only delay the process and potentially cause additional issues with your application.

      I would also consult with a civilian doctor to get a diagnosis for your back. If the doctor makes the same diagnosis, then you would need a statement from him or her on their official letterhead stating you are physically fit for military service and do not represent a risk to yourself or others. If the doctor does not make this diagnosis, I would get a letter from the doctor stating you are in good physical health, do not show any symptoms of that diagnosis, and are healthy enough to serve in the military.

      Why go this route? Because you will need to prove (1) either this diagnosis exists, but is too minor to be a problem with your service, or (2), you were misdiagnosed and this condition does not exist.

      It is up to you to prove this and present your case to the military.

      At that point, the military will determine whether or not to perform further examinations, and/or possible waivers, if needed.

      This can be a lengthy, and sometimes complicated process, and there is often little visibility into the process while you are awaiting a response. So it will take a lot of patience.

      I hope this is helpful and I wish you the best!

  7. Christina says

    I was accepted into the Navy JAG program, however, I never even made it to MEPS. The sent me a letter stating:

    “Based on a courtesy review of available medical information, further processing of this applicant IS NOT warranted due to a history of spondyloarthropathy.”

    The is from Commander, Navy Recruiting Command. The does not show any PDQ, TDQ or PULHES code. How do I find out if my condition is waivable?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Christina, Thank you for contacting me. I am not familiar with this condition. I looked it up and this is what I saw in Google – “Spondyloarthropathies are a arthritis-related conditions that strike your spine and the connective tissues of your bones.”

      I would reference the DODI and look up conditions involving arthritis or the spinal column. You may find something there.

      You can also ask your recruiter to get the information for you if possible. I had to track it down via my recruiter when I was first denied. He wasn’t helpful beyond sending the form and it took several weeks and several reminders.

      Beyond that, I can’t comment on possible waivers. I’m not qualified to do so and don’t know if it will be possible or not.

      I recommend doing the research and working with your recruiter.

      I wish you the best!

      • Christina says

        I did research on the condition, however, the recruiter said he has no knowledge about medical codes and what they mean. He said it was already sent up for a waiver and that was denied too. The only thing the letter provided was what I wrote in the original post:

        “Based on a courtesy review of available medical information, further processing of this applicant IS NOT warranted due to a history of spondyloarthropathy.”

        I asked my LCDR from JAG and she said from her understanding there is no official waiver process pre-MEPS. Since I never attended MEPS, the only option was to submit additional documentation. My recruiter submitted additional office notes from recent appointments I had with a chiropractor and orthopedic. I had a new X-ray done which showed no progression. Per my doctors, it is the mildest form of arthritis, which is why I was never prescribed or in need of any medication. The only treatment is physical exercise. Am I out of options? The recruiter said he appealed this pre-MEPS disqualification and they did not reverse their decision so that there is nothing else he could do.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hi Christina, I don’t have a good answer here – everything I know about the process is outlined in the article on our site.

        Your recruiter will have the best understanding of which course of action to take. If he has run out of options, then I don’t know if there is anything else that can be done.

        The only other option I see is contacting a recruiter at another location or another branch of service. Let them know everything, including your diagnosis, your application history, and the results of your application. The more transparent you are, the better. The next recruiter you contact should be able to either confirm that your recruiter did everything he could in the process, or let you know if there is anything else that can be done. Being transparent is essential, as you don’t want to make someone go through a ton of work, only to find out someone else has already done the work. You would be contacting the second recruiter only to confirm the process has been followed correctly, and to see if there are any other options.

        I hope this is helpful and I wish you the best!

  8. Taylor says

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for your post. I would love to hear your input on my experience thus far with trying to join the Army as a 42-R (Army Band). I never thought I’d pursue it as a career and am questioning whether it can actually happen now that I have checked the DoDI (will explain below). I wish that I had known that checking “yes” on any part of the 2807-2 meant that the condition could potentially be disqualifying because I was under the impression that with documentation everything was OK…


    March 2017 – Went to ER in pain; was diagnosed with 5 mm kidney stone; had lithotripsy procedure done to break up stone; later passed

    September 2017 – Heard about an upcoming audition in one of the DC Bands on my instrument; decided to start practicing the preliminary materials due in November

    November 2017 – submitted my materials; passed through the preliminary round and received an invitation to a live audition in DC scheduled for February 2018; received instructions on how to contact a recruiter and begin the process of enlisting into the military (was told that applicants must pass all enlistment requirements before auditioning); started the paperwork process with my recruiter; also found out about an additional opening for my instrument in a regional band; submitted preliminary materials for that position and quickly heard back that I had qualified for a live audition [at this point was preparing for potentially 2 auditions amidst my final year of graduate school]

    December 2017 – passed the ASVAB with a score of 87 (121 composite) – my recruiter tried to talk me out of my MOS… “Well, if band doesn’t work out, you scored high enough to do whatever you want…”; I told him “No thanks, I’m only interested in joining the military as a musician”; the very next day received a call that the DC audition was cancelled due to downsizing but was encouraged to keep going through the enlistment process; I decided to pursue the regional band audition, which would take place after I passed my MEPS physical; I finished filling out my 2807-2 at the recruiting office and MY RECRUITER STARTED PRESSURING ME INTO LYING ABOUT MY KIDNEY STONE AND VISIT TO THE HOSPITAL to make the process faster; I told him that was completely out of my character and that I would not lie on something as important as this; he had me bring in all supporting documentation I received from the hospital; I was told that they’d schedule my physical after the new year

    January 2018: MEPS attempt #1 – was told that I had a physical scheduled for January 10; literally was walking out the door on my way and received a call from my recruiter that I couldn’t go that day anymore because a new form had been released Jan. 1 and since my packet didn’t have this form it was incomplete and that MEPS denied it; I went in that day and filled out the new form, which was me checking a box that I was born a MALE and am still MALE…

    **I was pretty frustrated because my school semester was starting up the next week and it was extremely difficult to find time in my schedule to go to MEPS since it’s basically a 2 day process with the hotel stay the night before. I didn’t just have 2 free days to go and get this done.

    February 7, 2018 – my music recruiter (separate than the one responsible for my MEPS paperwork) let me know that I could go ahead with the regional band audition even though I hadn’t done the physical yet since they were in town and had spoken with my recruiter about my MEPS progress; the music recruiter told me that my kidney stone shouldn’t be an issue given the paperwork I had submitted; I took the audition and scored the highest they had ever seen for my instrument and was told on the spot they’d like to hire me(!)

    February 20, 2018 – received call from a new recruiter (the one I had been working with passed me over to this new guy) and he told me there were still things unfinished on my part concerning MEPS..? He proceeded to tell me that according to a January 25 email from MEPS that my paperwork was denied because I need to get documentation from my urologist that I am fit for military service; I said ok but was confused as to the delay in relaying this info to me; I called my urologist’s office to get the ball rolling on the clearance letter

    March 8, 2018 – I received the clearance letter via email from my urologist that I’m fit for military service and I forward this to my recruiter

    March 9, 2018 – recruiter calls urologist’s office and requests more info on my behalf, so I get a call from them to consent to FERPA so that the office can disclose the info; I receive another email later that day from the urologist’s office with further documentation and forward this to my recruiter

    *The next week is Spring Break, so I’m hopeful that the physical can happen since it was the first that I had time in my schedule since January 10 to get it done

    March 21, 2018 – Spring Break is over, never heard anything, so I contact my recruiter about my status; he forwards me an email from MEPS, [dated March 8!] stating that without a more recent checkup from my urologist that my paperwork is incomplete; again I am confused by the delay of letting me know and don’t get a solid answer as to why I’m not finding out until now; I call my urologist’s office that day and schedule a checkup for the next week

    March 28, 2018 – got checkup, complete with blood work and urine test to determine health of my kidneys

    April 9, 2018 – received email from urologist’s office with a new clearance letter stating that basically “As of March 2018, candidate is clear for military service; no signs of kidney stones, kidneys are healthy” (This is now over a year since I had my stone and procedure)

    April 12, 2018 – I send the new clearance letter to my recruiter (really swamped that week and forgot to send on the 9th)

    April 18, 2018 – my recruiter needs me to come in and redo my entire 2807-2 because it’s been over 90 days since filling it out and is now invalid; I’m able to break away from school that day and complete a new one

    April 20, 2018 – my recruiter lets me know that MEPS has accepted my packet and I can officially schedule my physical(!) Unfortunately, this is right at one of the busiest peaks of my semester; I open my calendar and literally don’t have 2 free days until after I graduate, so we schedule for May 21

    May 21-22, 2018: MEPS attempt #2 – I passed everything on my physical but during the interview with the head doctor at MEPS he looks over my packet and says “Oh, I see you had a kidney stone. You know that those are automatic disqualifications, right?” I said, “No sir, I was never told this..” “Okay, well yeah, having a kidney stone is a disqualification from any military service. But since the Army Band already wants you, I will submit this for a waiver. I can’t make any promises, though.” I got back to the Army career center and let my recruiter know that I need a waiver, but he didn’t seem too worried about it

    June 19, 2018 – received call from my recruiter that while looking into my waiver status he found out that MEPS made a mistake on my paperwork somewhere and that my packet was misplaced… so at this point in time (4 weeks after my physical) the waiver has been re-submitted

    July 1, 2018 – Found your website; am still waiting to hear about my waiver; I read in the DoDI 5.15. (s) [page 27] that kidney stones are disqualifying if a) have a current stone of 3 mm or greater; b) have current multiple stones of any size; c) have had a history of kidney stones in the last 12 months; d) have a history of calcium in kidney or recurrence of stones at any time; or e) have history of a kidney stone requiring a procedure

    So here are my final questions to you:
    (1) why would MEPS have me come in to do my physical if they knew I had a disqualification already?
    (2) Since I didn’t have any other issues during the physical, do you think I have a shot at getting the waiver or am I wasting my time waiting to hear back?
    (3) If kidney stones are disqualifying, why did no one tell me until I got to my MEPS physical? I guess I was somehow supposed to know to do my own research?
    (4) I have not been told my PULHES results at any point, but I did look up the requirements for my MOS and they are 222222. Is there a way to know if my kidney stone would be higher than a 2? I would assume since I didn’t have problems that my results are currently X11111

    Quite frankly I am growing frustrated at the prolonged waiting process and delay in communication. I am now at a crossroads where I would love for this to work out and am trying to plan the next few months as if I will get the waiver, but also need to decide very soon if I should pursue a different outlet of my music career. I am not so sure anymore that the military is part of that journey. The fact that I’ve made it this far does seem promising, but the looming DoDI disqualification facts are not pleasant and I feel that the waiver might be a long shot. If it doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t consider my efforts to be in vain, but do think there has to be a better way for candidates like myself moving forward. At the very least I hope that my experience might help someone else out.

    I would greatly appreciate any insight that you have. Thank you in advance for your time!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Taylor, This is a lengthy process. Please note that I do not speak for the military, or for MEPS. I’m only sharing my personal insight into the waiver process.

      (1) why would MEPS have me come in to do my physical if they knew I had a disqualification already?
      – They recommended you for a waiver, but they still need to examine the rest of you before they can recommend the waiver. I went through the same process. If they found something else, it would be easier to send everything at once.

      (2) Since I didn’t have any other issues during the physical, do you think I have a shot at getting the waiver or am I wasting my time waiting to hear back?
      – I can’t comment on specific medical conditions. I simply don’t know and can’t speculate. But if this is a waiverable condition, then I would wait it out for a few months if this is the career path you would like to take. This is not a fast process.

      (3) If kidney stones are disqualifying, why did no one tell me until I got to my MEPS physical? I guess I was somehow supposed to know to do my own research?
      – I don’t have an answer here. Just understand that MEPS personnel and recruiters see hundreds of applications each month and not every process will be perfect.

      (4) I have not been told my PULHES results at any point, but I did look up the requirements for my MOS and they are 222222. Is there a way to know if my kidney stone would be higher than a 2? I would assume since I didn’t have problems that my results are currently X11111
      – I don’t have an answer here. This is outside my area of expertise.

      Taylor, if you get into the military, it will be because you showed the tenacity to stick through it when someone told you no. This is a great skill to have and will serve you well in life. As will the patience that you will have to show while this process works itself out. My process to several months, and it was frustrating to play the waiting game. I hope it works out for you in the end!

  9. Blaine Karlen says

    Hello. I am considering applying for the Naval Reserves Nurse Corps. I have never been officially diagnosed with depression or anxiety or been under the care of a mental health practitioner. I have been taking Lexapro for the past 8 years. I started taking it when I told my doctor I was feeling anxious and at times depressed after dropping out of law school. So we started trialing antidepressants and Lexapro worked the best. I just kept taking it as routine and have never tried weaning off. Would this be waiverable?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Blaine, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, I am not qualified to answer specific questions regarding medical diagnosis or conditions. You will need to contact a recruiter or consult the DODI, which is referenced in the article. I wish you the best!

  10. KW says

    Greetings – thanks for the informative post. Do you think it would speed the process if we took our son to get an exam now, rather than wait for his application to come back requiring an exam – which we know it will. Thanks much.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello KW, Thank you for contacting me. Yes, it would speed up the process quite a bit if you are able to obtain a doctor’s note for any condition on the medical pre-screen form that may raise a red flag. That will substantially reduce the back and forth time, and hopefully make it easier to obtain a medical waiver if one is needed. Best wishes.

  11. Kathleen says

    Hi! I have read through all these stories and comments. And what I see is that it’s really up to whether we have lazy recruiters or not. My son was diagnosed with ADD as a child. Around 6 years ago he stopped his medications because he knew he could do school with out them. And he did. He graduated from high school with awards and high letters of recommendation from his principles and teachers. He has been honest and forthcoming about his history. First he got jerked around by his Army recruiter…after minimal work he told my son that he was denied. We said ok and left …not knowing any better. He then went to the Marine recruiter who was awesome and he started helping us. Come to find out he was never denied by the MEPS doctor, the Army recruiter didn’t want to bother with the paperwork, because when the Marine recruiter was asking the doctor for information on the case, he was told that the doctor was waiting on paperwork from us! We were in total disbelief. The military and all their talk about honesty and integrity. (oh and by the way both my husband and I have both served our country)So our new recruiter started the long process of working with us. He never gave up. My son went and got every paper asked for. He went and got CLEARED by a MILITARY DOCTOR, and the paperwork was filled out…everything needed was included. He turned it in and we’ve been waiting. Now our recruiter is getting transferred to MEPS and we are being handed over to new recruiter…ok…he is willing to work with us. Great. My son called in to speak to him about how things were going and he wasn’t in so we were given to another recruiter…ok…he had to ask permission to work the case. The next thing we know a Gunnery Sergeant is calling (new to the office) who knows nothing of us…he asked us what we wanted we told him, his asked what the hold up was we told him the history and what we were doing to get in. He told us no…he wasn’t going to get in. We told him we were working with someone already for almost 2 years, he asked if we had clearance paperwork and we said yes. He said no…you are disqualified for everything …he doesn’t even know what we’re doing…he doesn’t know my son or his case. My son mentioned about working on a waiver and he said no….basically you’re not getting in. Go try the Army or Air Force. I have all the respect for our military but I have no patience or time for incompetence and that recruiter who think he’s playing God really &*$$@# me off. He then ended the conversation by saying he was going to call the young recruiter (who had been willing to put the time in) and tell him that my son was disqualified…but that didn’t even come from the MEPS doctor. What the HELL!In all of this though…your website has given us some hope…something to work with…He was never given a TDQ or a PDQ by the doctor…and the info on the DODI is something else for us to research. But my question is… albeit rhetorical is how do we find an honest recruiter…one who will work with us, because we are more than willing to do any and all on our end. We live in a state that has very limited recruiters…and the ones who have already shown their true colors we don’t want to work with because there is not trust there. On this last note, what totally sickens me is here is a kid who has wanted nothing more than to serve our nation like his parents, grandparents, and great grand parents, is honest truthful, and loyal to a fault and can’t seem to get in, but they will take pot/crack heads who lie through their teeth and tell them whatever they want to hear in. Wow such integrity in our forces…it angers me and saddens me.
    Thank you for your time and chance to put this out there…maybe you have some other ideas we haven’t thought of.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Kathleen, Thank you for contacting me. The best advice I have is to continue trying to work with your old recruiter if possible, or a different recruiter if that is not possible. You will want to explain the case up front when interviewing the recruiter to let the recruiter know you are aware of the process and have been working on it for some time, and you are willing to continue putting in effor ton your part.

      If necessary, you may find it helpful finding a recruiter in a different branch of the military. You can also try the Guard or Reserves, as they sometimes have recruiters who are in place for longer periods of time and have very close working relationships with MEPS. Some Guard and Reserve units are also willing to put in more work to fill certain hard to fill billets.

      Beyond that, understand that ADD can be a difficult diagnosis, so patience will be required, regardless of who your recruiter is. I wish you and your family all the best!

  12. HR says


    I was tdq’ed for something I don’t have and what was not diagnosed by the specialist, it was a CMO who misread something. Papers were then sent from Meps to the SG. I went to get a 2nd opinion from specialists and wanted to submit them to Meps/SG office before the final decision. But my recruiter told me to wait it out first and appeal later in case of a pdq. When the pdq came he suddenly told me he doesn’t know how to. It’s a clear case, no grey area. I don’t know what to do now. Can I still send in my supporting documentation?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello HR, Thank you for contacting me. I recommend sitting down with this recruiter and explaining the situation in full. Be clear there is an obvious mistake in the application and it needs to be corrected. Ask him to work with you to see the application through. A PDQ does not mean you can never serve, it just means there is a permanent medical condition. It may be possible to get a waiver for the condition. In your case, since the medical condition labeled as a PDQ does not exist, you will need to submit a letter and supporting documentation stating the medical condition does not exist. Explain there was an error somewhere in the review process (don’t call out anyone specific, just state there appears to be an error).

      If the recruiter claims he does not know how to file a medical waiver application, then explain you are willing to put in work on your end and you will be patient as he learns the process. If he still balks at the idea, request permission to speak to the regional recruiter he reports to to see if anyone else in the region has the knowledge to process your application.

      If he still does not want to work with you then go to another recruiter. Be clear when speaking to the other recruiter that you have a case that is open, there was a mistake and the other recruiter is not willing to help you resolve the issue.

      I don’t recommend sending in paperwork on your own, as they many not accept the supporting documentation if it doesn’t come from the recruiter.

      I wish you the best!

      • HR says

        Thanks a lot for the information you have here, it helped me find out what I need to have. Managed to get everything now. The next hurdle is the result of the executive order from October changing things for green card holders (need to finish background check before being able to ship out).

        Seems it caused a lot of confusion on recruitment level and my recruiter now thinks only citizens can get processed now.

      • HR says

        Recruiter told me that they are told to no longer process green card holders due to the holdup the background check means.

  13. Bob says

    I had a vasectomy and got a UTI all while I was in the Army Guard and I ETSed about 8 months later because I wanted to join the Airforce Reserve. After about 6 Months of waiting the surgeon general denied me go to MEPS. The system is so *******. How is it I can be in the Army guard and do my job but the Airforce surgeon general saying I can’t join. What a joke!

  14. Isaiah254 says

    I was in army basic 2 years ago but got out from depression I was told I can try again after 2 years December will mark the third year.. my record still clean, no tattoos and still in shape and my re code was a 3. Chances are very slim to get waivered but is it possible

  15. Greg Futrell says

    My son is 17 years old. He had gone for counciling a year ago for depression and oppositional defiant disorder. He hasn’t been given meds. Is there somewhere we can find out what he can do to still qualify to join the national guard? His recruiter isn’t much help.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Greg, Thank you for contacting me. The best thing to do is contact another recruiter. I had a similar experience when trying to join the Air National Guard. The first recruiter I tried working with wasn’t much help. But the second unit I contacted was much more helpful. I recommend contacting a different unit, or contacting a recruiter with the Reserves. You can also try another branch of service, as each branch may have different needs at the time. I wish you all the best.

  16. yanzuo jiang says

    hi guina, i have read all the questions and all your answers. you are really kind, thank you. my name is Jiang, i have already sent documents to MEPS for getting medical waiver, it is been about 2 months, and i am still waiting, my reason for getting waiver was that i had fracture on my left humerus last year. i have 2 question, 1st is may i go to do ASVAB before i get my waiver? 2nd question is usually how long could i get the waiver like my case?

  17. Chris says

    Hello Ryan,

    Thank you for this article. To my understanding, my situation will never be waived from what I read on the internet in most places. That may very well be, but I am willing to do all the research I can and if there is even a hint of chance put my all into it. I’ll quit babbling and get to it.

    I enlisted in 2012, shipped in May of 2013. I wasn’t even there 3 weeks when I was discharged with a Fraudulent Enlistment (JDA1, RE-3P). I had never lived out of my parents house, I was coddled and never knew what stress was basically. I threw out the whole suicidal spiel that i’m sure you’ve heard a million times. I also used a scare that was at an angle on my wrist to say I had self-mutilated in the past… Of course I said that I also got these feelings when i was younger when I got stressed out which was a lie to. (I lied my way out of basic as an immature boy that didnt know anything about life.)

    I read the DODI and saw the disqualification 300.9, however I did not see anything about a previous Fraudulent Enlistment. It’s been 3 years.

    Is there even the slightest chance of me getting back into the military if I dig my nose in and keep digging at it or will my efforts just end in the demise of my hopes? I don’t want to waste any recruiter’s time, if I could I would handle every single lick of paperwork so he/she wouldn’t have to seeing that it was all my own stupidity.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my case.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Chris, Thank you for contacting me. The DODI referenced in my article covers medical issues only, not fraudulent enlistment. Your RE Code is what will determine whether or not you will be eligible to reenlist. Some codes are simply not eligible. I don’t know the ins and outs of the rules, so this is something you would need to take up with a recruiter.

      Getting an RE code changed can be done, but usually only if there was an administration error on the DD Form 214, or if you can prove it is not correct. The issue you may run into with trying to prove this wasn’t a fraudulent enlistment is you would have to own up to lying. I don’t have any experience with this, and it may be something you wish to contact a lawyer about.

      Sorry I don’t have a better answer, but this is a very specialized situation, and one that needs an expert on this specific topic. Best of luck.

      • Chris says


        Thank you for the quick response, it is very much appreciated, I will take the time to speak with a lawyer on the subject, should I contact a lawyer that is military affiliated?

        Thank you,

  18. April says

    Thank you for your podcast. My son who is a senior in high school was just turned down by the Navy. His recruiter told him he cannot apply for any of the armed forces such as the Marines or the Army as once you are disqualified or need a waiver they all share the same information.

    Is this true? He was also considering the Marines.

    He told the Navy that when he was in Elementary school he was depressed. They told him he needed to get a waiver, which I am working on. But if it doesn’t work he would like to try another branch of the service

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello April, Thank you for contacting me. I recommend your son speak with a new recruiter in a different branch of the military regarding his application and whether or not he can apply again. It never hurts to get a second set of eyes on an application or another viewpoint on the application process.

      I cannot comment regarding likelihood for waivers, as I don’t work for MEPS, and I am not medically trained. I can only speak about the application process. That said, depression is a complicated topic and there is a large difference between saying you “felt depressed” versus having been clinically diagnosed with depression. I do not recommend adding anything to the medical pre-screen form that has not been diagnosed by a medical professional. If he was diagnosed with depression, then he would need to go back to his doctor to get a statement about the condition, current status, and other factors.

      I hope this is helpful.

  19. Ms. T says

    Hello I want to say thank you for the valuable information. My daughter a senior in high school was recently DQ from the Air Force for atopic dermatitis. When she went to MEPS she was TDQ and told to she needed to see a dermatologist. I took her that day, and she was told she have atopic dermatitis on her arm and no prescription is needed, just use over the counter moisturizers. The dermatologist wrote a letter stating it was mild and would not prevent her from any duties assigned in the military. Yesterday the recruiter called and stated she did send the letter from the doctor however MEPS Disqualified her, in addition she stated nothing can be done and no appeal process or medical wavier is available. I’m in totally disbelief, my daughter has never had any issues other than dry skin typically in the winter nothing that required medical attention. What do I do?? She has wanted this for so long scoring a 89 on her ASVAB and now she is crushed. Please give me advise on what options are available. The dermatologist was in shocked and has tried to contact the recruiter however she has yet to respond. Please give us advise!!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Ms. T., Thank you for contacting me.

      I can’t comment on specific medical conditions because I am not a medical professional, and I do not work for MEPS. That said, it seems like a minor dermatological issue should be waiverable. I would go visit the recruiter in person and ask for a more thorough explanation. In person is better in this situation.

      I was also crushed when I was told I would not be able to serve. But I did a lot of research and discovered my issues were eligible for waivers. So doing so research and being able to back up your case can go a long way (a link to the DODI is in the article you left a comment on). The other thing I did was find a new recruiter who was willing to work with me on the waiver process. Having a good recruiter can go a long way.

      Just let the recruiter know you are willing to do the work on your end if necessary. I wish you and your daughter the best.

      • Symon B. Uhl-Miller says

        Hello I just am full of questions I’ve been very unhappy with my results on talking to a army recruiter of course I was told no for enlistment due to my mistakes over the phone but is it possible I can still join when being told no and if so where do I go?

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hello Symon, There are many factors that go into military eligibility. It’s possible the recruiter asked a few top-level questions over the phone to save you both the time and trouble of an in-person interview. You can always call another recruiter or visit in person to see if you are eligible to serve. The recruiter should be able to give you more information regarding your potential eligibility. Please note there are some factors that make one ineligible for military service. Your recruiter can provide more information on this. The best thing to do right now is contact your previous recruiter and ask for the specific reasons you were disqualified from service, or visit with a new recruiter. Be sure to ask for specific reasons if the new recruiter also states you are disqualified from service. I wish you the best.

  20. Leighton says

    I think you have it wrong concerning the SG. Their decision is NOT final. There are countless examples of people who were initially denied a waiver by th SG and are now active duty. It’s not easy and you must have a compelling case. Most cases I know of are when the applicant is highly trained in their skill set and is difficult to replace. A close friend of mine was denied a waiver and was told it was binding. They ship out to BMT next week. I’m keeping the faith. There is precedent.

  21. Michael k says

    Hello. I went to meps and they said i had a heart murmur. I waited 2 weeks for a schedule to get a echocardiogram done. I did the echo 4 days ago. The doctor said i had ventricular septal defect he said the hole was too small to affect my heart and i have no restrictions from any activity. Im still waiting for meps to get back about the results. I was wondering if you think meps doctor will just pass me? And if not is my case waiverable??

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Michael, I am not a trained medical professional and I do not work for MEPS, so I cannot comment on individual medical conditions. I recommend looking up your condition in the DODI referenced in the article. You can learn more about the condition and whether or not you can get a waiver for it. As for a timeline – it varies based on which MEPS location, branch of service, and how many applications they are processing. It could take anywhere from a couple weeks to several months. I hope this points you in the right direction, and I wish you the best!

  22. Alex says

    Hello Mr. Guina, I just found this podcast and must first off thank you for taking the time to help prospective soldiers out. All possible avenues of advice are greatly appreciating when trying to get a medical waiver. As for me, I am a 26 year old male currently trying to join the Army for active duty. I have a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Homeland Security (graduated Magna *** Laude with a 3.9 GPA), scored a 87 on my AFQT (GT score of 123), and am in stellar shape. I was misdiagnosed with dyshidrotic hand eczema when I was 19, and actually had no idea it was in my medical file until my last recruiter sent my whole packet up and MEPS found it. Reason for PDQ was “history of dyshidrotic hand eczema”. Note the word “history”. Looking back I strongly regret that I didn’t find it first, but mistakes happen. I say misdiagnosed because I do not have dyshidrotic hand eczema nor have I ever, and my dermatologist has provided me with multiple letters explaining that I am clear and I may have had temporary dermatitis in the past due to dryness. My job at the time required me to wear very tight gloves in a hot environment, so naturally the constant sweat along with me not applying lotion at the time exacerbated the dryness. In my file, it stated I had dyshidrosis, but understanding doctors I know a lot of times they err on the side of caution. I was also prescribed clobetasol, but never even needed it. I understand why eczema is a PDQ, due to the smallpox vaccination and harsh working conditions, but I honestly I have no problems and never even did for that matter.

    Basically my question is, my packet was finally approved by MEPS to be sent to the Surgeon General’s office, but I know that my odds of it getting accepted at this time are slim. Should I gamble my future and send it anyway, or just wait until the Army needs more troops and then send it up to increase my odds? I suppose I could send even more informationt to MEPS if need be. Sorry for the lengthy explanation. Thank you very much for your help.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Alex, Thank you for contacting me, and it’s a pleasure to help. Before I answer, I just want to clarify that I am not a medical professional and I do not work for MEPS. So the following is only my opinion and will have no bearing on the outcome of your application.

      Your application: It seems like you have done everything in your power to this point. Your application included a note from your doctor stating you do not have eczema, and you don’t currently have any signs of having it. In this case, the MEPS doctors will review your medical file, then send it to the Surgeon General’s office for review. They may or may not approve a waiver. I can not predict what will happen.

      But at this point, it’s probably worth considering letting the application process play out. We can’t predict the future, and we don’t know if or when the military will need troops in greater numbers. And even if they do need troops in greater numbers, we don’t know if that would change the outcome of your application. What we do know is that withdrawing your application now and waiting only guarantees you won’t serve in the near future. And that can stretch into forever if you wait for the “perfect” time to apply.

      If your application is declined: If your application is not approved, you should work with your recruiter to see if you have any options. You may be able to file an appeal if you believe there was an error in the application or the ruling. Be sure to include a statement regarding why you believe it to be in error, and include a note from your doctor stating his medical opinion on your condition.

      Finally, it may be possible to apply to a different branch of the military if you are not able to join the Army. This includes applying to the other major branches of the military, or even applying to the National Guard (they have a different Surgeon General’s office). Do not apply until you have word back from your current application, as you shouldn’t have more than one active application. And be sure to inform your recruiter you have previously applied, but your application was not approved. Be sure to give supporting information why you believe the decision was made in error.

      I hope this is helpful and I wish you the best in your application process!

      • Alex says

        Okay, I will definitely take all of what you have said into consideration when moving forward with this process. I called my recruiter yesterday and he specified that if I can get a note stating my diagnosis was indeed a misdiagnosis (misdiagnosis is the keyword here), that that would be “golden” and I possibly won’t need a waiver at all. Why need a waiver for something I don’t and never did have? Anyway, thanks again for your help sir! Your service is much appreciated.

  23. Daniel says

    After you got your waiver did you have to do the physical all over again? Or was it a quick overview?

  24. Jackson says

    Hey, I am 24 years old, I have an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Dean College MA, I have volunteered countless ours towards search and rescue operations with the American Red cross in disaster zones, and now wanting to enlist in the Army National Guard. The only problem is I have a history of mental illness, when I was around 9 years old I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I was put on meds, I was hospitalized a couple times, and remained on them until I was 18, but have bean off them since. I say again I have not taken mood medication since I was 18, and I have proven capable of handling being off them since then. So since I have bean off them I have graduated college, worked with the red cross, all carrying heavy stress and I never endured a setback. will my faulty past prevent me from joining the U.S Army, even though I clearly have shown that I can take the same pressures that a normal individual would?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jackson, Thank you for contacting me. I am not a medical professional, nor do I work for MEPS. So I cannot comment on individual medical conditions. This is something you need to speak with a recruiter about. Do keep in mind that there are certain medical conditions that are not eligible for waivers. Your recruiter should be able to help you understand more about your specific situation. I wish you the best!

  25. Amy says

    This was a great pod cast! However, I do have a question. I saw my recruiter yesterday, he sent my form to MEPS and they promptly sent it back because I take a thyroid medication. He said, although not a disqualifier, that I needed to get a doctor’s note and a new lab on my thyroid levels. I am not sure my doctor has ever written a note for this situation. Any ideas on how I should explain to them what I’m needing? I’m new to this process, so I’m not sure myself. Am I asking for a waiver? Or, an explanation as to why I take the thyroid meds? Or, both? Thanks for your time!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Amy, Thank you for contacting me, and I’m glad you found the podcast helpful!

      The article discusses letters from your physician. Basically, you want to make sure it is on the doctor’s letterhead and includes information about the medical condition, any medications you are taking (prescription, dosage, and how long), and the doctor’s medical opinion about your ability to serve without presenting any danger to yourself or others.

      You are not asking for a waiver at this point – you are only providing the MEPS doctors with enough medical information for them to determine if you are qualified to process for the MEPS physical. The MEPS doctors will determine if a medical waiver should be recommended. If they recommend the waiver, then your recruiter will work with MEPS on the process.

      Be sure to work closely with your recruiter during this process and ask questions if you don’t understand something. I took a lot of notes and read them back to make sure I had a good understanding of what was required of me, and what I needed to accomplish. It can take some time, but the process is worth it. I wish you the best of luck!

  26. Brett says

    I have ADHD and seek to join the Army after my senior year of high school, i know that you cant take meds in the service, but I am planning to be off of them within a few weeks, will I still be able to join with or without a waiver?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Brett, you will need to contact a recruiter. The military has very specific policies and requirements regarding ADHD medication use. I’m not qualified to speak on those policies, so the best person to speak with is your recruiter. They will be able to help you understand your options. Best of luck!

  27. Keshaun Lawrence says

    Hi my names Keshaun…long story short i messed up on the hearing portion of the physical for all 3 times because basically i was being stupid, but reality i can hear 100% but by the time i figured out the test it was already too late. So now i’m waiting for a waiver to get processed from the Surgeon General, and i’m super scared that he’ll disapprove it! I’ve passed all other physicals, no medical records, no criminal records, and this one test i messed up on is holding me back from deployment. I want this bad

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Keshaun, it sounds like it’s out of your hands at this point. If the SG doesn’t approve a waiver, you may be able to visit an audiologist and see if there is anything that can be done for your hearing. You would need to get a signed statement from the doctor on his official letterhead stating your hearing is good. Then contact your recruiter to see if it will be possible to get another physical at MEPS. They would take this information into consideration if you do another physical, and if you pass your hearing test, it may become a non-issue. At this point, just wait and see what happens, then work with your recruiter to see if there is anything else you can do. Best of luck!

  28. Clifton Matthews says

    I am an Army veteran and I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008 while I was in the Army National Guard. After getting out I found out that I wouldn’t be able to come back in be able to come back in because of my diabetes. I recently wrote the National Guard Bureau seek permission to get back in and I got a reply saying that I would have to be able to control my diabetes with diet and exercise. in other words, I can’t be on any medication. I am working on this with my doctor. I am a 9 year veteran and I just want to finish my time.

  29. Ron says

    My son is 6 months away from his BS in Social Work and wants to enlist in the Air Force with a possibility of Officer Training School after recommendations and some time in service. He took Adderall for 3 years from 15 – 18 yo. He quit taking it because of the way it made him feel his freshman year in college. After a routine doctors visit his freshman year, it was determined that he no longer needed it after making the Dean’s List several times. Moreover, the physician said that the Rx (prescribed by another physician), may have not actually be needed when he was 15.
    My son, now 23, went down to MEPS and was disqualified because of the Adderall which he was not taken in 3 years. Other than that he is in perfect shape. He is very disappointed.
    I stumbled across your article and it gave me some hope that we might be able to get a waiver. Thank you!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Ron, Thank you for contacting me. The military has specific guidelines regarding waivers for certain conditions or taking certain medications. There are some conditions for which there are no waivers or no exceptions. I cannot speak for those guidelines or for the military. The best I can do is share the article, which discusses the process of applying for a waiver, and what to expect when going through the process.

      At this point, the best thing your son can do is contact a recruiter and work with the recruiter to go through the process. I cannot speak for the chance of success for waivers – that would be a question for the recruiter. I hope this points you in he right direction.

  30. Marco v says

    When I was 19 I got DQ from the military because I told them I hit my head but I never remember saying that and also because I talked back to the doctor. Also I understand that was not very smart now that I am 23 I am trying to join the Guard and I score an 80 in my ASVAB and I was wondering if I would be able to get a waiver to join the National Guard?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Marco, Thank you for contacting me. You will need to contact a recruiter to get the process started. You would only need a waiver if there are issues with the 2807-2 (medical pre-screen form). The article you left a comment on discusses how the actual waiver process works. Your recruiter will be your point of contact and will help you through the process. Best of luck!

  31. shawn says

    i have an undescended testicle and i received a letter of disqualification but didn’t receive any codes or anything saying how bad my problem is, do you know if i have been permanently disqualified. i have already went to a urologist and was cleared to serve.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Shawn, Thank you for contacting me. You will need to work with your recruiter to get this information. If you were disqualified for medical reasons, then MEPS should send the basic disqualifying information to your recruiter upon request. If I recall regarding my situation it was a single sheet of paper that listed the PULHEES Codes for the items I needed waivers for. There wasn’t any substantial additional information. I had to do the legwork on my own to figure out what I needed to do.

      Talk to your recruiter and see if you can track down this information. Then make sure you have a written statement from your doctor on his/her official office letterhead. Then submit a new Form 2807-2 with the letter and any supporting information. MEPS will review your package and determine if this is a waiverable condition. If so, you should get scheduled for a MEPS exam. I wish you the best!

  32. Matt Arrington says

    I had an inhaler at around 6/8/13. I used it once and stopped because I grew out of it, let me state that I also around the same time was awarded a YPFT, certificate for above saticfactory score by my JROTC LT COL. I literally could run ten miles right now and not feel anything. I honestly believed I never needed it in the firest place, any feed back would be a load off my shoulders. And VERY desperately wish to join the marines.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Matt, You will need to work with your recruiter about this. You will most likely need to get a full pulmonary exam and a letter from your doctor stating that you have no medical conditions that would prevent you from serving in the military. The article gives some instructions for what to expect if you do need a waiver. Other than that, I can’t offer any specific recommendations or provide any odds of being accepted into the military, as I do not work for MEPS and I do not have a medical background. I can only speak about the process, which is outlined in the article. I hope this helps and I wish you the best in your journey toward joining the military!

  33. Dezy says

    Hi Ryan,
    Thank you for your great articles. I have %60 VA rated disability due to my both knee surgeries, lower back L4and L5 and S1, and tinnitus.I am trying to do Navy officer reserve. Do you my conditions will give me any chance to get a waiver?
    I have foreign language skill and MA in public administration, and Navy has a direct commission program for some one with my skill. Please advise.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Dezy, Unfortunately, I can’t answer questions about specific medical or the odds of someone being able to obtain a medical waiver. I am not a medical professional, and I don’t work for MEPS. So it’s not my place to try to make these types of guesses. The best I can say is to follow the process outlined in the article and work closely with your recruiter.

      The doctors at MEPS will review each item on your medical pre-screen form, and you will receive the same physical everyone receives when they join the military. They will then decide if you are a candidate for waivers.

      Regarding your background – that may make your recruiter more willing to work with you, as it seems like it would be difficult to find someone with your background. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to whether or not the medical conditions are waiverable, whether the doctors at MEPS recommend waivers, and if the Navy Surgeon Generals office agrees with their findings and approves the waivers.

      I wish I could give you a more definitive answer, but it’s just not possible. I wish you the best of luck, and thank you for your service!

  34. stan says

    I had a surgery in India when i was 6 months old and i’m 31 years old now. One of my testicle had to be removed. Unfortunately my parents do not have any operation documentation from the hospital. I was able to get a letter from my PCP doctor that i am physically fit to serve the army and i was able to get to MEPS. The doctor at meps dq’d me stating that the first waiver was just to give me a chance at MEPS.

    The head surgeon has requested for a pathology report and operation reports. I do not have these documents and this is worrying me. Can i meet local surgeons to assess and give me more detailed reports? My recruiter has been going back and forth stating we don’t have documents for the surgery.

    This process has been going on for the last few months and i have no clue what to do. Let me know if there’s an alternate way. Thanks for all your help!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Stan, Thank you for contacting me. I think visiting a local doctor and getting an exam is the best course of action. Give a current assessment of your condition and send a letter stating there is no documentation from your previous surgery. I wish you the best!

  35. J. Matty says

    I am in the army on a medical waiver, and just got denied jump school because i’m on a waiver. Is there any way your waiver can be removed from your files once your in. I was hit the eye with a pellet 6 years ago in high school, but have absolutely nothing wrong with my eyes (20/20 vision). I have been cleared by all eye doctors. Is my medical waiver from when I joined going to follow me around for the rest of my military career, seems a bit ridiculous.

    • robert jacoby says

      I know I signed the military waiver years ago.and of course the military do I get proof I signed the waiver?

  36. Daniel Carrillo says

    I looked up the dodi to see if I can get a condition waivered for the Army National Guard. I had ac surgery and I have a surgical wire in my collarbone, the bone itself was not what was broken. I read there in Supplemental Guidance (SMPG) is written by USMEPCOM and is in blue. SMPG
    is offered as an aid in interpreting the regulation. It is not the regulation. It says that SMPG: Hardware in the clavicle, malleolus, or olecranon does not meet the standard. Does that mean I can’t get a waiver for that??

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Daniel, Thank you for your comment. I can’t answer this question – I’m not a medical professional and I don’t work for MEPS, so my personal policy is not to try to interpret the DODI. All I can do is comment on the process, which is outlined in the article. The best I can do is say to speak with your recruiter and go through the waiver process as explained in the article. Your recruiter will work with you to the best of his or her ability and will try to get you through the physical and waiver process if it is possible. I wish you the best!

  37. Monte Rysavy says

    Hello, Im 19 and currently in the beginning process of joining the Air National Guard. I’ve had two kidney stones this past year, and i’m afraid that because of them i’m not going to be able to join, even though my recruiter said he didn’t see anything that would disqualify me. It is also the only thing medically that could be a red flag. So my question is could the kidney stone problem in the past be an issue? I have to submit some paperwork to my recruiter in regards to medical documentation still and haven’t gone to MEPS yet. I’ve looked up if it’s possible to still get in and i’ve found articles that don’t list it as a major concern, and others where people were not allowed to join because of it. Any info would be appreciated, THANKS!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Monte, I’m not a medical professional, recruiter, and I don’t work in MEPS. So I don’t comment on specific medical conditions. The best I can say is to work closely with your recruiter and the MEPS professionals, and use the tips in this guide to work your way throguh the process if it is required. Best of luck!

  38. David Bach says

    Interested in joining the air force I had surgery to correct Scoliosis would I be able to get a waiver I lead an active civilian lifestyle.

    • Ryan Guina says

      David, Thank you for contacting me. I can’t answer questions about specific medical conditions. I am not a trained medical professional, and I am not authorized to speak for MEPS. The best thing to do is use the article as a reference and go through the same process I went through. Start by speaking with a recruiter, giving him or her your information, and you will soon find out if medical waivers are available. Best of luck!

      • David Bach says

        hello Ryan I talked to a navy recruiter about my back surgery and that I have retained hardware they said that is PQD but in the DODI it says retained hardware is not disqualifying if it is not subjected to easy trauma they recruiter told me to get medical documentation to forward to MEPS they said i would be able to apply for a waiver.

  39. N.Hughes says

    My son got a medical waiver and wants to know if there is a date the waiver expires before he takes his oath of office?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi N. Hughes, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. He should contact the recruiter who helped him during this process. The recruiter will be able to give him that information and other pertinent information needed when he enlists or commissions.

  40. Makenzie says

    Hi! I’m very unknown when it comes to medical conditions that aren’t eligible for military service. My eldest brother wants to sign up for Infantry, but he had a knee injury almost a year ago but he was cleared (twice, for ‘extra’ proof, per say) by his orthopedist (or physical therapist, I’m not sure who it was), but he has proof of being cleared for the Marines. But apparently the Marines are denying him from going to MEPs because of his knee being “unstable.” His recruiting officer told him to contact our local congressman to get the congressman to push my brother’s application through to MEPs. He hasn’t even been seen by MEPs and they’re denying him. What can, and should we do? Thanks!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Makenzie, so far as I know, Congressional representatives can’t get things pushed through MEPS. The process doesn’t allow for outside influence. The best course of action is outlined in the article above. Thanks.

  41. Brittany says

    Oh yeah, the MEPS refractive error readings are greater than the readings at the eye doctor.

  42. Brittany says

    Update: Hello again. I went to the Army recruiting station on November 3 and spoke to a recruiter newly at the station. He came there in June 2015. I informed him of my past denial from the guard and situation with trying to get in the Army Reserve and provided updated eye results for him to make copies of to give to the Station Commander since he was still not here. So now I will be waiting for good or bad news after the station commander looks at the results and decides if I still have a fighting chance at getting in hopefully. I sent in documentation of overall eye health including new eye refractive error, visual acuity, and new eyeglass prescription. Left eye is -0.75 sphere ×-o.50 cylinder diopters correcting it to 20/20. Right eye is -8.00 sphere × 1.75 cylinder diopters correcting it to only 20/60. And since my left eye is my stronger eye, it was music to my ears to learn that 20/20 vision in stronger eye makes up for bilateral vision (both eyes) if any of this means anything to the military. And my eyes are still healthy, visual fields, peripheral, normal and everything. Nothing the doctor noted is biased “in my favor,” like “She no longer has excessive refractive error. She’s ‘cured’ and is unlikely to have issues performing military duties. With all this in mind, I walked out the recruiting station with hope. I hope that I can join maybe without à waiver since I saw in the DODI document that 8.00 diopters is the max that the military will stop at allowing without a waiver if I am not mistaken.

  43. Ron Retzlaff says

    Ryan, thank you for your service and for taking the time to share this invaluable information. My son had 2 kidney stones when he was 12 & again 6 months later when he was 13 years old. Because of his small size (he hadn’t hit his growth spurt yet), the urologist recommended surgical removal instead of allowing him to pass them on his own. She removed one with a laser and placed a stent for the second which he passed on his own.

    We were told by his Navy recruiters that we had to request a waiver because they wouldn’t let him process through MEPS even to take the physical. We were never provided a copy of the 2807-2 or what the PDQ codes were. Without having read this article first we submitted another 2807-2 with a statement, but didn’t have his doctor perform a physical or make any statements on his behalf. He hasn’t had a stone since 2007 and is now 6′ 4″ tall.

    We received information day before yesterday that his waiver was disapproved (by a contractor at MEPS not the Surgeon General’s office). Without the waiver having gone to the Surgeon General’s office I’m thinking that we should be able to get his doctor to perform a physical and provide a letter of recommendation and request that it be elevated for a formal approval/disapproval consideration.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Ron, Thank you for contacting me. Your plan of action is about the best thing you can do. Be sure to contact your recruiter first to make sure he or she is on board with this. The recruiter will be the liaison between you and MEPS. Best of luck!

  44. Tracy says

    Thank you, sir, for your informative article, and for sympathizing with all our various conditions and questions! My son was treated for depression VERY briefly (under 6 months) and was DQ’d from his MEPS (USMC) because he chose to tell the truth–against the advisement of his recruiters. He’s currently pursuing his medical records and doing the footwork to be further considered; he did well in every other aspects–his ASVAB, his PT, his physical condition. Thank you for walking us through as much of this as you can so we understand the process and options a little better. You obviously can’t address every situation, but your overview is really helpful, and gives a good, realistic picture of what we might, or might not, hope for.

    Thank you much for your service.

  45. Kastan says

    They article was very useful. Quick question, I had lower back surgery a few years back but I have no restrictions from the doctor. Would a surgery like this keep me from getting in a military branch? Or is there a good chance to be able to get a waiver?

  46. Brad says

    Hi Ryan,

    Great Article… I wish we had seen it prior to starting the application process with my 18 year old son. He is applying to both the Air Force and Naval Academies to become an Engineer. He has a GPA of 4.28 (3.95 non-weighted). When he was around 5, doctors diagnosed him with Reactive Airway Disease and put him on 5 mg of Singulair. When he was a little older they upped it to 10mg only because of his age/weight. He has never had an “attack” that sent him to the hospital. He has had to use an Albuterol inhaler a couple times over the years (literally less than 5 times during his life). Usually at the end of an bad chest cold. He is a long distance runner, running 5K’s and 1600m and 3200m competitively for his high school for 3 years. He currently runs a 5K in less than 17 minutes and a mile in 4:45. He has never had to use an inhaler before or after any of his races.

    He got the notice that he would need to apply for a waiver, he sent all his medical records along with racing results along with a letter clarifying the above information. They have now asked for a methacholine challenge test and an inhalation challenge test. Are they looking for a specific range of results to either deny or grant the waiver, or are there many shades of grey to this process? If he does poorly can he retake the test(s) and only send the best results or do the Academies need all test results?



    • Ryan Guina says

      Brad, Thank you for contacting me. To be honest, I can only speak about the process, which I have written about in the article. I’m not able to make any statements regarding specific medical conditions because 1) I’m not a medical professional, and 2) I don’t have access to that information. The best thing to do is speak with your contact I the recruiter’s office, MEPS, or the Service Academies, if that is who coordinated the MEPS appointment. I’m sorry I can’t give more specific information, but I just don’t have it. Best of luck with finding the information you need, and for your son earning an appointment to one of the Service Academies!

  47. Christina says

    Ryan I had contacted you by email at the end of July for advice regarding gathering data to submit with a waiver. Thank you for your response and the direction. It took a some time but he was able to see his primary care provider and an orthopedic specialist to be examined. I made sure to tell them the reason for the assessments and if they agree that he was fit for military duty could they state that in the documentation. That documentation was provided and eventually MEPS scheduled him to see an orthopedic specialist at their expense about 2 weeks ago. I re-listened to your pod cast and I think that at this point he has done all that he can to give himself the best opportunity to be accepted into the Air Force, and now we ………. wait……for a determination. I mentioned to my son that he should probably follow up with his recruiter so that he knows that he is still engaged and interested and I recommended that he call him at about the 2 week mark? Does that seem reasonable? Thank you!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Christina, Thank you for following up. I’m happy to hear this article and podcast were useful. And you’re right, at this point, it seems you have done everything you can. So now it is a waiting game. Periodically checking in with the recruiter for updates is a good idea, so long as it isn’t too frequent, and is with the understanding that this is out of the recruiter’s hands. Best of luck!

  48. Burton Wheatlake says

    Hey Ryan. My name is Burton and I was medically rejected from the army. The recruiter I worked with said my medical records went to the very top of MEPS and was rejected there. He never said why I was rejected specifically and never gave me my 2807-2 form back. I played three high school sports and had normal injuries like a couple mild head injuries, and one broken bone. Those were well over 4 years ago. When i asked him if there was any way I could fight this, he told me there was no way. He never brought up this waiver idea though. My main question is if my medical records were rejected at the “very top” of MEPS, would I still qualify for a waiver, and also, if I never got my 2807-2 form back, would they still be required to have it so i can get my hands on it?

    Burton Wheatlake

    • Ryan Guina says

      Burton, Thank you for contacting me. These are all great questions. The recruiter should be able to get you the information on why you received a medical disqualification. MEPS is required to file a report stating why you were not able to join. The recruiter may not have it available, but he or she should be able to get a copy of this. This is what you need in order to determine whether you would be eligible for a waiver. If you have a good idea of the reason you received the disqualification, you can look it up in the DODI (referenced in the article), and research to find out if the condition is waiverable, and under which circumstances. If you think it may be waiverable, you would need to visit medical specialists, have exams, and have written statements from the doctors giving your medical history for the condition, current state, and a statement attesting to your fitness to fulfill military duties in a way that would not present any further risk to yourself or others.

      Going forward: I recommend getting a letter or information from your recruiter regarding why you were disqualified, and then visiting doctors to get the written statements. You may also try a different recruiter, or a different branch of the military. If you do this, be clear with the recruiter about your current situation, state you are just looking for more answers, you want to apply for a waiver if possible, and if they are willing to work with you to get this information and go through the waiver process, you will be happy to work with them going forward. I know this is frustrating, but it’s how the system works. Best of luck in your journey to joining the military!

  49. Seth D. says

    Hey Ryan! My name is Seth Dauer and right now I am waiting for a medical waver for the military. I gone to meps twice and was dq for stigmatism (3.5) lazy eye and extrophobia in only my left eye. My right eye is perfectly fine with glasses. DO you think I’m going to make it in and medically qualified? This is the waiting blocking that is in my hands and I cant capitalize anything till this decision is made. Your thoughts?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Seth, I’m sorry, but I’m not a doctor and I don’t have any insight into the odds for receiving a waiver for a specific medical condition. You will need to speak with your recruiter and see if they have any contacts at MEPS who can give them better insight for your condition. Sorry I don’t have a better answer, but I’m not really qualified to interpret medical conditions. I wish you the best with your application!

  50. John says

    Really like this article but I need some answers. I want to join the military but I have a ruptured eardrum but i’m getting surgery on it next month. I know that a ruptured eardrum can disqualify someone but my surgery should fix it completely. Would I have to get a medical waiver?

    • Ryan Guina says

      John, Thank you for contacting me. I don’t know if you will need a waiver or not. The process works like this: you apply with the medical pre-screen form filled out. Be sure to include supporting documentation for any surgeries or medical conditions as directed. When you include supporting documentation, make sure it is on your doctor’s letterhead and includes information such as your history for the condition, any surgeries or rehab, and the present condition, including any physical limitations you may have.

      In your case, you would want to have a note from your doctor stating you had a ruptured eardrum, the cause (if applicable), corrective action taken, current condition, and most likely a hearing exam to ensure you don’t have any lingering hearing issues.

      The doctors at MEPS will review the information and determine if they need anything else, in which case they will request that information, or they will recommend a waiver. Only the doctors at MEPS can tell you if you will need a waiver or not. But you need to go into the process with the right paperwork. Ask your recruiter for assistance with this process, because it may be complicated and having a guide is invaluable. Best of luck.

  51. Miranda says

    Hi, I’m a prior active duty AF officer (separated June 14) and a, trying to get into the AF Reserves (I am not in the IRR). I am having a baby in October. Any ideas how long I have to wait postpartum (assuming no complications) before I can get a commissioning physical at MEPS? I heard 6 weeks, also 6 months. Thanks.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Miranda, Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, I don’t have a firm answer for you – I’m not able to answer specific medical questions. All I can really do is comment on the MEPS process and waiver process. However, based on what I have read, I believe the time frame may vary depending on the individual’s situation, health, whether the mother is breast-feeding, etc. The best thing to do is contact a recruiter at your prospective unit. They can help you with that question and any follow-on questions you may have. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you, but I can’t really speak for MEPS. Best of luck in joining the Reserves, and thank you for your service!

  52. Austin says

    So I went to meps with the Marines 4 years ago and told the doctor their that when I was 10 I went to abother doctor for a teurettes evaluation. The doctor misunderstood and took it as I had teurettes. So after 4 year I have recently processed with the army and go disqualified because the previous meps doctor put on their I had teurettes. So I went to a doctor a couple days ago and got a letter stating I never had this condition and I was in fine health to join the army. Is their a possibility that meps will not grant me a waiver even though I got a letter stating the condition they disqualified me on was never existent and a simple misunderstanding

  53. Sammy Salazar says

    Just an update! My waiver got approved! After 2 long years of hard work, dedication, patience, and prayer, I finally got an answer and I’m going back to the Army. It isn’t impossible guys.

  54. Viralsinh Solanki says


    Great article. I have a question. I applied in Army Reserve through Mavni program. I have failed in hearing test and my recruiter applied for waiver and and it came back as disapproved. I have passed everything except hearing test. Also, the doctor at meps didn’t send me to specialized for detailed inspection, they just write in a paper for applying waiver. Should I eligible after 6 months? Any help will be appreciated.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Viralsinh, Thank you for contacting me. The best I can tell you is to have an independent hearing test performed and ensure your hearing is within the threshold listed in the DODI for military accessions. If your hearing is within limits, then you should be eligible for a waiver for that condition. If it is not, then I’m not sure if there are any other options.

      If your hearing is within those limits, then I recommend contacting your recruiter and asking him/her to resubmit your package with a copy of the audiology exam and a note from your doctor if there are any other notable hearing issues.

      After that, you will have done everything in your power to be accepted. Then you it’s up to the doctors at MEPS to determine if your situation warrants a waiver. Best of luck!

  55. Sammy Salazar says

    Hello! Wow I really love your article! So here’s my story. Long story short, I was misdiagnosed with asthma. Discharge uncharacterized re-code 3 medical reason. Narrative, asthma. Active duty Army. More detailed part of the story: I took two methacholine challenges in a year span. Once when I got out, and the year after. Both came out negative for asthma. The methacholine challenge is a very sensitive test. Way more sensitive than a PFT and it is very definitive whether you have any respiratory problems or not. I was denied twice from MEPS with the Active duty Army. It’s been more than 2 years, and at a point I gave up but a voice told me to go back to the National Guard recruiter now that I had enough evidence built up. We sent my 2807-2 and 3 days later a miracle happened. Recruiter called back and I had the “Okay to Physical.” The following Wednesday I passed the physical and received a good note from the doctor at MEPS stating I have current evidence to prove I do not have any asthma nor show any signs of asthma and I was wrongfully discharges. I spoke with a Sgt and a medical staff and they said the same thing my recruiter said, that medical waivers are a piece of cake and I should be good, especially since I don’t actually have this condition. Doctor checked off “Is qualified for service”. I was then told that the waiver will be sent to National Guard Bureau, (assuming that’s where the Surgion General’s office is), and that it will take 3-5 days to get back. Everyone told me I’m basically good to go back

  56. Jason says

    I’ve found your article very informative and hope you can be of some assistance in my attempt to get back in the military. I was looking to go reserve. I’m 40 yrs. old and have a history of back pain although I’ve never had it looked into until this year and that’s because I was hoping the VA could help me get it squared away to get back in. Initially I couldn’t do sit ups because of it. Since then I’ve been through physical therapy and they worked with me on core strengthening which worked wonders. Most of my problem was due to getting out of shape. Being an auto mechanic doesn’t help much either. Anyway, I was PDQ’d without going to meps. The recruiter says the only way I might be able to get around it is to get documentation from an outside source that says Im ok and fit for duty. I’ve talked to all kinds of drs. and therapists and they never seem to know exactly what it is I’m asking for. One place can do a physical strength analysis but they need specific standards to test me at. I was trying to start going through your steps for med. waiver but ran into problems right away. The recruiter says there’s no pulhes code because I didn’t go to meps. Just said it has to do with my back. I asked him to check into it and he read me a letter stating, “Based on a courtesy review of available medical information, further processing of this applicant IS NOT warranted due to a history of chronic and acute back pain with multilevel spinal pathology on MRI”. I was surprised to hear this because I didn’t think my condition was that bad. I’ve been re evaluated by my Dr. and by the head of phys. therapy and they say I’m solid but they don’t have the ability to say I’m fit for duty. In your opinion do I have any chance and if so could you clue me in on what kind of Dr. I’d need to see. Thanks.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Jason, In your case, since the doctors don’t have defined strength standards to test you on you will have to give them a basic idea of what you will be required to do under normal military operations, then ask them to clear you based on those standards.

      For example, if you were in the Army, you would most likely have to perform drills and marches while carrying XX pounds of gear for XX miles over mixed terrain. Just think about your previous requirements, and come up with tasks you believe you would be required to perform. Then see if you can perform those tasks. Go out for a long march over mixed terrain while carrying a lot of equipment and gear. Also make sure you can pass all aspects of your PT test. Then go to your doctor and tell him/her you were able to meet your previous military requirements, and give explanations of what you are able to accomplish. That would be as close to a standard as you can get.

      Be sure to explain to your civilian doctor that the letter should state their medical opinion, and should be based on your previous and current medical conditions, and nothing more. If they believe you will be fit to serve based on the criteria you give them, then they can write the letter.

      At the end of the day, the military primarily uses their letter as a determination of whether or not to process your application at MEPS. You will see another set of doctors at MEPS, and they will make the final determination of whether or not they consider you to be fit for military service.

  57. edward speaker says

    It was due to a sports injury i mentioned that in the statement and the last note a got from the doctor stated there was no need for MRI or Xray and its to late to get a note now because they sent it all up the chain to headquarters to get the waiver

  58. edward speaker says

    So i was about to leave within the next month and then 2 guys from meps came down to check on people that were leaving soon and so i ended up telling them i had a bruised miniscus so the very next day my recruiter called and said i needed medical documents on my knee so i went and got them and meps disapproved it they needed more information on how it was now not before and the paper i gave them already said nothing about a bruised miniscus they were worried about me having a stress fracture is what the paper said but not even it said “may have been related to prior stress fracture” so i got my knee looked at by a doctor said it was fine wrote a note stating it was fine they denied that saying i had to much paperwork and i had chronic knee pain so i had to fill out the waiver which was the activities i do and stuff like that and a statement i was just wondering do you think that will get approved it didn’t say anything on the DODI about chronic knee pain

    • Ryan Guina says

      Edward, Thank you for contacting me. You have to go with what they give you. So if they gave you a disqualification based on chronic knee pain, you would need to visit your doctor and get a statement from him/her stating you either don’t have chronic knee pain, or that it doesn’t present an issue. Hopefully you don’t have chronic knee pain (they may deny you based on that), and you can show specific instances where you had pain due to trauma (acute, not chronic). Acute pain could be due to a sports injury, or something similar and doesn’t indicate there is a long-term problem. Chronic pain is something the military wants to avoid because it could be indicative of a long-term problem that could cause the military liability later on, or make the person an ineffective troop due to inability to perform.

      Don’t consider this a permanent “no” just look at it as a setback. Get another statement from your doctor and see if they will process a waiver. Best of luck!

  59. Claire says

    Thank you for being so informative! I am planning on applying to Navy OCS when I graduate college in two years. I had two minor outpatient surgeries to remove benign breast lumps, so I imagine those will require waivers, but the big hurdle is this: I was on anti-depressants for depression for just under a year when I was 17. I was never hospitalized, never showed any psychotic or manic symptoms, never self-harmed. I basically just couldn’t sleep and was always in a bad mood. By the time I graduate, it will have been five years since the depression episode, with no recurrences, and stellar grades and resume. As far as I have been able to find out, a waiver for the single depressive episode could *potentially* be possible, but highly unlikely, even after 5 years. Is this correct? If the SG’s office denied the waiver request, could I resubmit the request a couple years later? Would I be more likely to receive a waiver if I apply eight years after the episode rather than five?

    Thank you for any information you can provide or point me to.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Claire, Thank you for contacting me. I wrote this article and and recorded corresponding podcast based on the regs and personal experience. I don’t have any specific insight into specific medical conditions and I don’t want to give any specific guidance here for two reasons – 1) I’m not the person or agency who makes those calls, so I can’t speak for them, and 2) it’s very possible that any information I were to give would be subject to change in the future, based on military guidance.

      The best I can do is refer you to a recruiter or to contact MEPS for specific guidance.

      All that said, you may consider joining ROTC if possible. If you are accepted into ROTC you would receive scholarships that would help pay for college, and you would have a better chance of being accepted into OCS (or OTS in another branch). It may not have any affect based on previous medical conditions, but you would have already earned an officer slot as opposed to trying to join off the street and having to compete with a larger pool of applicants. Something to consider. I wish you the best of luck with your college career and journey toward joining the military!

  60. Charles says

    Ryan, I am worried about my medication history preventing me from obtaining a waiver. I have a very clean bill of health, except that I was prescribed antidepressants for a brief period in high school to deal with fallout from parents divorce. Problem is that the prescription was never formally discontinued until a year ago. I’m trying to figure out my best bet here. To my knowledge, I was never diagnosed with anything. I was prescribed to them by a family counselor, who I haven’t seen since that period of time. I went off to college a couple years later and have moved around since then. I haven’t seen any counselors/therapists or anything other than my general practitioner, who unprescribed me from them. I don’t think I’ve ever been diagnosed with anything, and my original family counselor says he has kept no records of my few visits with him. I have never been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD either. My current GP agrees that I was erroneously never unprescribed from this medication, mainly because I was never undergoing counseling or therapy and had no one to second guess it. I continued using it only on the advice of relatives during college and afterwards, and needless to say, they have no medical opinions or authority. Both my original family counselor, who I contacted recently, and my current GP are willing to attest to this in letters on my behalf. From my research, it seems that providing a medical opinion (or 2) that I was misdiagnosed or errantly diagnosed past a period of time is my best bet. What do you know about obtaining waivers (I’m anticipating a PDQ) for such medication, particularly with regard to misdiagnosis or non-diagnosis? I think I have a bizarre case but a workable one. For the record, I am interested in the reserves versus active duty, if that has any influence over MEPS. Thank you very much.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Charles, Thank you for contacting me. I don’t have any specific experience or anecdotes beyond what I published in the article, so unfortunately, I don’t have any specific answers to your questions regarding the antidepressants. I would go with the research you have done so far, unless you discover something better.

      Regarding Reserves – it can sometimes be easier to get into a Reserve unit vs. active duty, simply because it can be more difficult to fill that position since Reserve units have to fill their billets from a more limited geographic area. The same thing goes for Guard units. To be clear, the medical standards are the same, however, they may be more willing to work with waivers. Much of it will depend on the MEPS station and the Surgeon General’s office. I would call your recruiter and go from there. Hopefully you will find one who is willing to work with you. Best of luck!

  61. Sam says

    Is you DODI PDF current? I am having trouble with joining and this PDF is making me question if I really can join. So far I keep getting no’s. I don’t want to give up if there is some hope.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Sam, Thank you for contacting me. So far as I know, it is current. The way I look for things is to use Google or another search engine to see what I can dig up. In this case, just search for “DODI Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Military Services” and see if there are any more recent versions. I didn’t find anything.

      You can also contact a recruiter to see if they have any updated information. I hope this helps, and best of luck with your application!

      • Andre Carr says

        Hi Ryan this is Andre….I just got back from MEPS today and was disqualified because of high frequency hearing loss in my right ear. I was told a waiver approval would be sent to the Navy commander and he/she would make their decision…I have read every online article I could find to lift my spirits on my chances of joining the Navy I also have my best friend who is currently serving in the navy ask all around about my situation…I was just wondering because I have read that a waiver for hearing loss of my magnitude does not meet the waiver approval standards and hearing loss is a common condition to try to have waivered only to be denied if my chances of approval is good considering if the people at MEPS and my Navy recruiter know this why send off a request for a waiver unless they believe I have a chance of getting approved…

  62. Brittany M. Scott says

    Hello again, this is Brittany. Another question came to my mind. My ASVAB score expires this coming August. If I was already denied a vision waiver for the national guard, will that mean I will not be allowed to retake the ASVAB test again even after the 2-year validity limit has elapsed when I attempt to join the Army Reserves if you know? Thanks. Oh, just to give an update, I talked to an Army recruiter near where I work and showed him my eye results from the last previous year of February 2014 including my eyeglass prescription still on file. The looks of the results and prescription fills me with surprising and overwhelming hope no matter how old they are. The recruiter referred me to talk to the station commander and have him look at them and see what he wants to do on whether or not it’s worth a shot for joining the reserves. The station commander will be back three weeks from now just in time before my ASVAB score becomes invalid in August and I can hardly wait to see him and show him the eye results. If you don’t mind me sharing this, the refractive error documented for each eye reads -8.00 spherical diopters and -2.25 cylinder diopters in the right eye and -.75 spherical diopters in the left eye, correcting my vision to 20/20 in right eye and 20/20 in left eye and 20/20 with both eyes open. No pathology in eye health and visual fields were ever detected during the ophthalmology examination, thank God. And believe me, this isn’t just a biased opinion that was ever “made in my favor” by the doctor or anything I “wanted him to say.” It’s truthful. I hope that this stands a good case and that the station commander doesn’t see this as a still no-go despite the results I will provide. Thanks so much for the time.

  63. Matthew Rosenhamer says

    Mr. Guina,
    Hello, my name is Matt. I had a couple of questions for ya. I went through MEPS last November (2014) and a red flag came up on my medical history. Long story short, I needed a waiver approval for a past injury to my lower back of which occurred in high school. The condition is called spondylolisthesis, and it basically occurred from an overuse injury from sports. It healed and I continued competing in sports for two more years in high school plus 5 years of collegiate football (recent college grad), no problems. My waiver came back disapproved stating that my condition could “potentially” lead to sacroiliitis (a condition of the SI joint). I understand where they are coming from. I am very familiar with the human body and how it works because I work within a very similar career field. They look at the problem as a liability issue. Also, I have seen and read many situations in which this condition was waived. I know that it is case by case, but what do you think I might be able to do to enhance my chances of getting an approve waiver? Is there even a chance since I was already PDQd? I originally processed through the army, but I also tried through the air force. I talked to a marine recruiter and he said that I was pretty much out of luck. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Matt, Thank you for contacting me. I am not a doctor, and don’t play one on the Internet, so I can’t comment on your specific condition. But I can comment on the process, which is laid out in this article.

      To being with, the PDQ will always be there – but read through the article again, it states that a PDQ is something that is permanent, meaning it cannot be changed. You cannot undo the condition you have. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t healed, or that you can’t get a waiver, it just means you can’t undo it. The same as if you have a surgery. You can’t undo the surgery. But the surgery may have been necessary to make you fit to serve. The military just needs a letter from your doctor on his/her official letterhead stating the history of your condition, the present condition, and if in the doctor’s opinion there isn’t a problem with you performing military duties with your condition.

      As for increasing your odds of being accepted into the military, you may find it easier to join the Air National Guard or Army National Guard instead of active duty. This is because the medical waivers are all processed through the respective Surgeon General’s (SG) office, and the Guard has a different SG office than active duty. If you can find a Guard unit that really wants you, they may put in a good word for you. (No promises, but I’ve heard from several sources that it can be easier to get into the Guard for that specific reason). This may also apply to the Reserves, but I believe the Reserves use the same SG office as active duty.

      But here is the deal – in my experience, you need to find a recruiter that is willing to work for, and with, you. You will need to do things on your end and show the recruiter you are willing to put in some work on your package.

      To be clear, there are no guarantees, and it is true that joining the Guard is different than joining active duty. But there are still excellent career opportunities, and in some cases, you may be able to get a full-time billet, which is similar to active duty, but you stay in one duty assignment. If you truly want to get in the military, this may be your best shot if you have exhausted all other options.

      So to start with, I would visit a doctor, get a letter as described, then contact a recruiter from a Guard Unit you are interested in joining. Arrange a visit, and be prepared to explain everything up front. Have all your documentation filled out and ready to go, and proceed from there. If the recruiter is good, he or she will be willing to work with you to submit your application and work with you through the waiver process. Expect the process to take some time, potentially up to several months. Best of luck!

  64. John Kazimer says

    Hey Ryan, I had surgery on my labrum in December of 2012. The next year I spoke to a USMC recruiter and decided to enlist. I told the recruiter about my surgery and now i regret I did. First, I was disqualified by MEPS so we decided to submit a waiver to BUMED. It has been kicked back about 5 or 6 times and I’m starting to lose hope. All I want to do is serve my country with honor. Any advice on where to go from here? Thank you sir.

    • Ryan Guina says

      John, Thank you for contacting me. You did the right thing by letting the military know about your shoulder surgery. Lying about it would be a federal offense and could get you dishonorably discharged from the military if they found out you lied on your entrance paperwork (it’s happened to many people for fraudulent enlistments and similar misconduct).

      Regarding the disqualification – that is to be expected for almost any surgery on a major joint. I needed waivers due to my knee surgeries. That said, it may be possible to get a waiver, though it can be a labor intensive and frustrating process.

      The best advice I have is outlined in this article. You need a letter from your surgeon stating your medical history, current status, and that you are physically fit enough to serve in the military and do not pose any additional dangers to yourself or others. Make sure you have every bit of information required for your MEPS pre-screen form, and work with your recruiter to follow up on the process. There isn’t much else you can do other than be professional and diligent when following up on the status.

  65. Chavez, Cody M. says

    Hello, I tried to join the National Guard when I was 18 and a junior in high school. Unfortunately when I was 12 I was put into foster care. during that time I had to see a therapist. I will admit i did shut out the world because I was just wanting to go home. I was diagnosed with depression and put on a low does antidepressant, for about 7 months. I didn’t get to go home to my bio mother but i found a loving family that took me in as a foster child but loved me enough to do legal guardianship, where i lived until i moved to Texas shortly after graduating. I had made it all the way to MEPs, had my physical etc. but while i was there filling out paperwork it asked if i had seen a therapist, i didn’t lie and said yes. Everyone was impressed by my background and my urge to better my life. They requested all my paperwork but a week later I got a letter saying i was disqualified for having ptsd, as well as severe anxiety/depression. I felt that was wrong because i was as happy as can be and looking towards having a great future. I guess my question would be is there anything i can do to join a different branch other then the army? I have always felt the call to serve my country.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Cody, Thank you for contacting me. I would contact a recruiter from a different branch of the military and be upfront and honest with the recruiter about everything that has happened so far with your attempt to join the military. It’s possible the military doctors made their diagnosis based on information from your old medical records and didn’t have any up to date information to use in their statements. If you believe the diagnosis to be incorrect, then it would be a good idea to obtain a letter from a doctor stating that in his or her opinion, you do not have PTSD or any lingering effects from severe anxiety or depression. This would be required for any waiver request you submit. A recruiter can help you with the process and give you more information. I hope this helps, and best of luck in your journey to join the military.

  66. ang says

    I am wondering about getting in the Navy. In 2013 I had ovarian cysts. these are not permanent and I haven’t had symptoms in a long time. I took the Navy test already and am waiting to hear from a Lt to tell me if I can get a physical. People said ovarian cysts are an automatic disqualifier. Since so many women get them and often don’t know, is it really a disqualifier? Is it something I could waiver if disqualified? Thanks.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Ang, Thank you for contacting me. I do not know the specific regulations for a history of ovarian cysts. The best thing to do is reference the DODI, referenced in this article, and see if it is listed in the document. If it is listed, then you will want to go to a civilian doctor to get a letter from him/her stating you do not currently have a health risk, and in his/her opinion, you are fit to serve in a military capacity. This letter will be required if you need a waiver.

      Also, don’t panic if you receive an immediate disqualification. A disqualification is automatically given if a health condition exists that requires further information before the military doctors can make a full determination. It’s a preventive measure to ensure people with potentially serious medical conditions are examined before they are allowed into the military.

      So research the condition, find out if it is something that will be a disqualifying condition, then get a letter from your doctor. Having this letter is required for a waiver, and having it early in the process will speed things up on your end, and make things easier on your recruiter. Best of luck!

  67. Dan says


    I was trying to join the Marine Core in High School and was PDQ’ed due to having the digits on my left hand are about half an inch shorter than my right. It doesn’t restrict me to any movements. I was not approved of a waiver with the Marine Core so I tried the Army. The Army approved me all the way through the physical and I got my ship date. On my ship date they gave me the physical and they said I “Might have Scoliosis.” The Regulation is under 30 degrees, the most my doctor could find was 3. I was still disqualified and did not get a waiver on my back condition. Along with that I was also required to get a waiver for my hand even though they already cleared me through the physical 3 months prior to my ship date. I have been working on trying to join. I tried the National Guard but that did not work out either. Is there any way I can get another physical at MEPS and show them I am fine? I took a Green Leaf Test with a hand surgeon and he said my hand is fine, I even have a packet of test results that show my hand has the same range of motion, grip strength etc.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Dan, Thank you for contacting me. The best I can tell you is to follow the processes outlined in this article – go to a doctor and get the tests and documentation showing you are physically healthy and there are no physical restrictions in place. Get that documented on the doctor’s letterhead along with a statement that you do not pose a risk to yourself or others and that you are physically qualified to serve in the military.

      Then you will need to work with a recruiter and with MEPS to go through the MEPS physical and waiver process. If the recruiter won’t work with you because you have not passed the previous physical, then try a different branch of the military. Beyond that, I don’t know what else you can do. I know it’s a cumbersome process, but there isn’t anything we can do to change that. Just have your documentation in a row and do your best. Best of luck!

  68. Ken Belanger says

    This info is awesome but my question is very specific. I am and always have been for 30 plus years a air reserve technician. I recently received a disability comp from the VA. The rating I received was 10%. Recently it is now being raised to a combined of 50%. I understand the whole process about receiving dual comp and filing the proper 21-8951. My BIG question is there a magic number be the rating where I will be forced to retire. Remember I am not joining or rejoining I am in the reserves currently. I can perform my job and pass all physical/mental requirements??? Do I even need to contact HR because right now they do not even know. Please help I do not want my career shorted or ruined before I reach retirement??

    • Ryan Guina says

      Ken, To the best of my knowledge, there is no limit for a disability rating that will force you to be removed from service. The “30% rating” has often been mentioned, but it refers to the military disability rating in a Performance Evaluation board, which is different than a VA disability rating. Here is a reference.

      Personally, I’ve known many people with higher ratings than 30% who have served in either the Guard or Reserves. The most important thing is whether or not you are physically able to perform your job. From my understanding, you should be able to remain in the military unless you go in front of a military evaluation board and they give you a rating. Again, that is different than the VA rating.

  69. Belinda says

    Hi Ryan, just wanted to get your opinion on my situation. So I am reapplying for active duty Marines. I applied once when I was in senior year of high school in the delayed entry program for reserves, I was scheduled for boot camp in June but was given an early dismissal due to missing out quite a bit on weekly training and physical tests because of AP exams and school things getting really busy towards the end of the school year. But they did told me that I was more than happy to reapply again if I wish to do so in the future. So after that, I went to college, finished my BA, did a semester at law school before that didn’t work out, and my mind went back to wanting to rejoin the Marines again. This time I was going for active duty. I went through MEPS and everything else was fine other than I told them that a year ago I had an MRI taken on my back because I was feeling some pain there and some numbness in my thighs, I wasn’t sure if it was serious or if it was because I was just exercising too much or something else as about 10 years ago I dove wrong off a high dive board and kinda hit the water pretty hard and hurt my back, though five minutes later I was fine and I never went to the hospital and it was never a bother. My doctors who did my MRI told me everything was fine, that there was nothing wrong with my back at all and everything was normal. The doctors at MEPS told me that my physical would go through when I get the MRI results sent to them, so I got the hospital to mail the documents. A few weeks later my recruiter told me MEPS said I needed a medical waiver to explain my back situation (he didn’t say it was DQ or anything) so we sent the waiver in as well. My recruiter said it would take maybe 1 to 2 months and that it’ll likely go through. I’m just wondering if a situation like this, is my recruiter correct in telling me that it’s likely that my waiver will get approved?

    I’ve never had any other health problems, no allergies, no broken bones, or any injuries of any kind. I pretty much have a clean bill of health and records other than this MRI which more or less I did as a precaution because I was concerned but the doctors who did the MRI basically told me nothing was wrong with me. I haven’t had any pains since and I do exercise and sports and my back has never caused me any issues. My current job basically has me standing for whole 6 hour shift a day and I’m fine. And I wrote all of this in my medical waiver.

    Do you think there is a good chance? I mean, one of the Marine Officers at the MEPS office who does the interviews/checks records saw my files and he told me that I shouldn’t worry, that he had plenty of sports injuries and head trauma and MRI stuff before he joined and all he had to do was send in all his documents and he was accepted in so I should too. I just don’t know what to really believe, I don’t know if I’m just being told what I want to hear before I have “denied” slapped on me.

    I got through MEPS 5 years ago when I was 18 and things were all fine before my early dismissal during DEP, it would just be really upsetting if this one MRI test result that told me I was perfectly fine is gonna be the reason that I can’t even make it through MEPS this time.

    Thanks for any advice or opinion you can give!

  70. Keisha Parker says

    Hey Ryan
    I recently got permanently disqualified from the army for having hidradenitis suppurativa (its genetics and is found in African American females, I’m African American also). My hidradenitis suppurativa isn’t painful and doesn’t affect my work. My health history is great, I don’t have any issues with the law, I don’t smoke or drink. I was wonder if you know anybody with the same condition as me. The meps doctor (was black) who I saw at meps told said I was fine and just needed a doctors note saying I could participate and to return back. When my recruiter sent my doctor note to a meps the doctor (who was a Chinese male) who permanently disqualified without giving me a good explanation or a waiver. I could understand if I didn’t have a good history background but I do I was thinking about seeing another doctor and writing a letter to the Commander of MEPS and explaining my complain of why there aren’t many African Americans female in the Military; first, the hair issue and now this. I condition I have isn’t bad and I know people who gotten a medial waiver with conditions worst then mine. Any advice would be nice and helpful.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Keisha, Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for you. I can’t really speak on specific medical conditions because I am not a medical expert, and nothing I can say or do will have any effect on military entrance standards or what the doctors at MEPS say or do. So the best I can do is speak to the process, which I documented in the article I wrote.

      Usually if a medical condition is waiverable, the doctor at MEPS will annotate that, and you can request to get a waiver. I would contact your recruiter and ask if it is possible to request a waiver for the PDQ you received. Remember, a PDQ doesn’t always mean you can’t ever serve, it just means that the condition is a permanent condition that cannot change. Beyond that, I’m not sure if there is anything that can be done. I wish you the best in your journey to joining the military.

  71. Eddie says

    I am currently trying to get back in the national guard, I am at 60% service connected 50 for PTSD and 10 for hearing loss. I just went to the recruiters office yesterday and he will be sending out the paperwork to MEPS shortly. Just wondering whats your opinion and I am willing to set aside the VA compensation to get in.

    Also I didn’t get out with the disability it was after I ETS’d. What’s your opinion on this? I am really hoping to get back in. I really miss it a lot. Do you think I need a medical waiver or will the Drs. be able to review my paperwork and clear me there or not? I talked to 2 other recruiters that just turn me down and said it wouldn’t happen. But I finally got someone who rolled the dice on me. I am just awaiting to hear from MEPS… oooooooh boyyyyy

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Eddie, I won’t pretend to make guesses about who can or will receive a waiver from MEPS. These things are out of our control and are based on a set of standards that are the same across all branches of the military. The big questions that have to be answered are: do your current physical or emotional issues allow you to serve at full capacity in the military, or would they potentially put you or others in danger? The doctors at MEPS and the Surgeon General’s office will make a determination based on the information they have at hand. So it’s important to give them letters and statements from your doctors stating that you are fit to serve. Then MEPS will review all evidence and make their decision. Once they make their decision, it is final, at least until there is a material change in your health. The most important thing you can do is provide documentation from your doctor(s) stating your capacity to serve and that you will not be a danger to yourself or anyone else. Beyond that, you have to let your application go through the system. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  72. Casey Kim says

    Hi, my name is Casey and I truly appreciate this helpful and informative post!! I wish I knew this kind of things when I was first applying for a officer program.
    I had eye surgery (PRK surgery) back in 2008, and applied for a naval officer program on 2011 in San Diego. I turned in all surgery documents that I got from my doctor, but my recruiter kept saying I have to provide enough pre and post surgery information to be approved. Never reached to the final agreement with that recruiter, so I moved on to Air Force in Los Angeles MEPS but I wasn’t really prepared for the test. No physical examination for any branches. I spent more than a year trying to join military but I had to move on. Finally, I ended up getting a job up in northern California area but I could not get away with how much I want to join military so I contacted another recruiter in Navy (figured Navy is the most branch that I want to join). Provided him same exact surgery documents, told him that is what I provided to Navy before, told him I tried Air Force as well. Never try to lie because I heard that could back fire on me in the future. After couple weeks, MEPS up in northern California (San Jose) area approved my surgery documents and everything seems to be getting along pretty. But couple hours later, my recruiter called me and said since we located medical records in other MEPS and there is PDQ condition on one of your records and those records must be checked. I never knew that my documents were disqualified until then.
    Now I have been waiting for 3 months but I never heard anything back from my recruiter, neither from Chief in San Jose MEPS. Maybe it was my fault moving MEPS to MEPS but I was just trying my best to join military and do what i wanted. Is there any can be done here to correct this situation? I really just want a chance.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Casey, Thank you for contacting me. Contact your recruiter and ask where you are in the application process. Having a PDQ on record won’t completely stop your application. It just means you need an approval waiver to join the military. I would contact your recruiter, inform him or her you are using a different MEPS because you relocated, and let your recruiter know you are still very motivated to join the military. Ask where you are in the process and see if there is anything else you can do to speed up the process. On your end, make sure they have all required documents to process a waiver application. The most important thing you can do is to regularly follow up with your recruiter. They are probably busy and you need to keep this fresh on their minds and in their processing file. Best of luck with your application!

      • Brittany Scott says

        Phew, that’s a sigh of relief for me to learn that a previous permanent disqualification may not necessarily cease a new application because I have been worried that it could happen to me when I try to join the Army National Guard again this fall. And I don’t plan on lying about a previous disqualification either; it just isn’t worth it.

  73. Dan says

    This is by far the most informative article on the internet on this subject, thank you for writing and posting it. I’m an active duty Navy officer, and my son has wanted to enlist. He is in good shape, 98 on the ASVAB, smart. However a few years ago he developed a series of intestinal issues that required surgery, but that now that he is grown are fully resolved, with only residual issues that can be managed with OTC medication like Tums and the like. He went through a full 3 month back-and-forth with MEPS, providing additional information, endoscopies, colonoscopies, CT scans, and doctors’ opinions on his fitness for service. Here’s the part I don’t understand: The recruiter worked with MEPS to send up paperwork to the medical folks at the Navy’s recruiting command (not BUMED). Recruiting command medical folks essentially said they would not issue a waiver for his medical history/current condition. My son wasn’t offered the option to self-submit a waiver request… does this sound right to you procedurally? Again, thanks for the very informational page.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Dan, Thank you for contacting me and for the compliments about this article. Going through the waiver process was complicated and eye-opening, which is why I wanted to document the process for others.

      From what I understand, only recruiters can submit the waivers, and only if it’s recommended by the doctors at MEPS. If the MEPS doctors don’t recommend the waiver, then the process stops at that point. There is no way that I am aware of to self-submit a waiver.

      The best course of action is to speak with the recruiter to get an official response from them regarding why the application was denied by the MEPS doctors. Then dive into the DODI to see how the military views that PULHEES code and see if it is a waiverable condition. However, just because a condition is waiverable, that doesn’t mean the doctors will recommend a waiver based on the medical history, the applicant’s profile, and other factors. In short, medical waivers are a complicated process and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, or way to predict an outcome.

  74. cathy carlisle says

    hello im trying to find info for my son …he has been trying for 8 months to join army /reserves. he was involved in a car wreck when he was 4 was a head injury were he had a couple 1/2 stitch stitches were a couple pieces of glass were nothing else…we got all hospital records followed up with family doctor records he is current seeing did a e g g with specialist neurologist passed (never had any medical problems not even been sick really most of records was just check up and shots. very fit only 7%body fat very active in sports and etc )and released on both doctors …finally got to get a chance at meps he was told he passed all their test but they gave him a medical wavier because of his medical history of the head injury from a car wreck when he was a kid. we are not sure whats going on and what this means. and if there anything else we can do this has been his dream since he was a lil guy thank you for your time

    • Ryan Guina says

      Cathy, Thank you for contacting me. This article and podcast explains the process as best I can. To get specific information, your son will need to work with his recruiter to find out where things are in the waiver process. His recruiter should be able to tell him if the waiver package has been submitted, or if more information is required. If the package has been submitted, then the only thing you can do is wait. Best of luck.

      • cathy carlisle says

        thank you for geting back with me. the only thing that was told to us was the information was sent fort myers and they have 10 days to decide . i guess what we were wanting to know is it just a flip of a coin over something as minor as a couple of stitches from childhood that never lead to any problems? and if it comes back no then what.. is he done for good? another way?is there anything we can prepare to do? thank u again ( he has been thru 3 recruiter in past 8 months they pass us of to higher people or have deployed out im sorry but it just sound like noone cares if he gets in or not he just getting passed around

      • Ryan Guina says

        Cathy, It sounds like your son has done everything he can at this point, and it’s just a waiting game (I know, waiting is the hardest part – it took me months to get back into the military!).

        You should have an answer soon. If he is approved, then that’s the answer. If his waiver claim is denied, then this may be the end of the road. The medical waiver process is more or less the appeals process for joining the military.

        As for his odds – I can’t make a realistic guess. Each decision is made on a case by case basis, and I’m not a medical professional. I can say that the military is taking head injuries a lot more seriously based on the proliferation of head injuries suffered by deployed servicemembers over the last decade. That doesn’t mean your son won’t be approved – that’s probably just the cause of this having to go through the waivers process. The best advice I can give is to sit through this, then contact the recruiter for next steps. Best of luck!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Cathy, ADD conditions are tricky and vary for each individual. That depends on whether or not you need medication for your condition, which medication(s) you take, your history of using ADD medications, and other factors. Your best bet is to speak with a recruiter for more information. The recruiter will be able to help you better understand more about the process. Best of luck!

    • Jake says

      Hello Cathy. I have ADHD. Basically, I was told that just having ADD/ADHD doesn’t automatically disqualify you. I was told thati would be allowed in after stopping taking medication for a year with proof, so long as I was able to function pretty normally.

  75. AJ says

    Thanks For responding my question Ryan. The CMO at Meps disqualified me with PULHES 300000 and asking for medical waiver from General Surgeon. My question is what are the chances of waiver approval and how long it takes for surgeon to make the decision. I am having no issues with stone at present.
    Appreciate your time in advance.

  76. AJ says

    Hello, We applied for medical waiver for my case today after CMO at MEPS review my case initially. I suffered from kidney stone once in 2010 and the stone was dissolved and passed away by itself. I submitted urologist letter along with other supporting docs that clarify that i am not having any kidney stone. What are the chances of getting the approval of medical history for my case? Appreciate your help.


  77. Daniel Carrillo says

    Any insight on chances of getting a waiver for a shoulder surgery. I was hoping maybe the fact that I speak 2 languages, was a college athlete and will graduate with a B.A. might make a recruiter look at submitting a waiver for my past shoulder injury. I talked to a Gulf War and Bosnian veteran she said as long as you had full range of motion and no hardware you should be fine. I have full ROM and no hardware, but the Gulf War and Bosnia were awhile ago. Any thoughts??

    • Ryan Guina says

      Daniel, Thank you for contacting me. Here’s the thing about medical waivers: they are blind to your abilities. You could speak 20 languages, have a 4.0 GPA, and be an Olympic caliber athlete. But if you can’t pass that military physical, you won’t get in. All that matters is being able to pass the military physical. That said, a history of surgery doesn’t necessarily preclude you from serving. The military doctors will want your medical records and a doctor’s note stating your physical capacity and ability to perform activities, and whether or not they believe you would be able to perform military duties without being a harm to yourself or others.

      Then the military doctors will review your DD Form 2807-2 and all associated medical records you provide to decide if they will give you a full physical. At that point, they decide if you are qualified to serve, or if you will need a medical waiver. It’s quite possible you might need a waiver due to a history of surgery. But if you follow the process laid out in this article, then you should have a good idea of what to expect. The best thing I can say is to contact a recruiter and start the process of joining the military. Be sure to be honest about everything on your application forms, and take each step as it comes. Be sure to have patience, as getting a medical waiver may take several months (or longer) from start to finish. Best of luck in joining the military!

  78. Vivian says

    Thank you Ryan but one last question are you familiar with how the air force handles blood pressure waivers all my readings are now of standard so I was wondering if you knew anything about that sort of waiver?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Vivian, Unfortunately, I don’t know much about that. My knowledge is limited to my experience, which is laid out in the article. I would focus on the information in the DODI, and work with your recruiter from there. Your recruiter should be your point of contact between MEPS. They will tell you the status of your application once it has been determined. If you aren’t initially approved, then be sure to get new doctor’s notes and talk to your recruiter about the waiver process. Best of luck!

  79. Vivian says

    My recruiter contacted me today saying that my blood pressure waiver looked like it had been rejected but she was not sure and maybe it was a bad idea she called me before figuring it all out she was still looking into it she felt like since my readings were of Air Force standards there’s no reason that I could not have gotten in and approved then she said she was looking into it and trying to see whats going on….Sidenote: im not on bp meds I had a perfect physical at meps my blood pressure was just high i came home got the 3 readings i needed they were lower and healthy and submitted them for the waiver….do recruiters have any control over swaying MEPs decisions when it comes to waivers?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Vivian, MEPS has written standards they must follow; recruiters don’t have any control over the outcome of your physical. I recommend waiting until your recruiter receives the final answer before worrying about what will happen. Once your recruiter has the results from MEPS, you will know how to proceed, whether that is requesting a waiver, getting another physical, or obtaining additional exams or letters from your doctor. Best of luck.

    • Rachel says

      Hello Vivian , I was just wondering when you sent in your waiver? My son is going through the same thing. Everything was fine with MEPS except for one high blood pressure reading. Same as you he does not take meds and has no medical history of high bp. We turned in the separate readings( all normal) at the end of May last year to his recruiter to start the waiver process . I am just trying to get a time frame of how much longer he has to wait .

  80. jenna Mason says

    A friend of mine is in process of enlisting in the Marines. He was given a DQ on medical prescreen due to an allergy to sulfa that has not been an issue since he was a baby. There are no records saying the exact reaction to the med just a “will note as possible allergy” How do we prove an allergy doesn’t exist when there is no testing available for this problem? Sent paperwork showing the original doctor note and then a later note stating he has no known allergies. His doctor will not write anything as an update because he has not been given the med again since he was a baby. Is this waiverable?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Jenna, Thank you for contacting me. To be honest, I don’t know if this is a waiverable condition or not. I recommend your friend start by looking at the DODI as instructed in the article. The DODI is the same reference document the doctors at MEPS use to determine which conditions are waiverable, and which are not. A recruiter should also be able to give some insight into the waivers process. Your friend may also consider finding a different doctor if he can find one who specializes in allergies or is able to provide some form of test for this allergy.

  81. Brittany M. Scott says

    Thanks a lot, I appreciate the helpful and mature responses. These responses are more knowledgeable than what I have read on other sites like and People currently serving or retired vets on treats the person inquiring about another chance to enlist like he/she is a stupid loser, outcast, or a nobody or something. Not that I expect sugar-coated answers but I find responses on like “What part of no is so hard to understand?’, “You’ll never see a day in the military,” “Why would the recruiter waste time on someone who doesn’t meet standards when he’s got plenty of applicants who aren’t as much work and don’t need waivers for anything?” and “The military has less time and money investing in someone who doesn’t meet standards when there are plenty of applicants who can get in with no issues waiting in line. You won’t be getting in, sorry” very unhelpful especially if the posters then goes on to nourish their cockiness by posting up what they do/did in the military, their rank, and what military branch they are in/were in along with their avatars after posting up condescending statements like that. Really? In those cases, they are basically saying “I’m better than you. You’ll never become one of us, Loser.” Those kind of statements are not helpful advise at all; they are juvenile and nothing but a bunch of bull. It’s like excluding a new kid from your playgroup at recess in school because he/she is different from everyone else and you don’t even know this new kid and that’s mean. It’s nothing wrong with speaking reality, but some people go too far with bluntness. And I really appreciate that you, sir, didn’t post anything like that to me and it’s better to share your own experience humbly with enlisting with a waiver with perseverance and give advise to those in similar situations as you were. I am more likely to take advise in stride from people who dealt with trying to get a waiver to enlist and finally got in more than what I have read from yahoo. Thanks so much.

    • Ryan Guina says

      My pleasure, Brittany. I wrote the article based on the information I wish I had when I went through the process. It would have saved me a ton of time! Best of luck with your application!

  82. Brittany M. Scott says

    Thanks for the quick response, sir, I didn’t expect it to be that fast. Yes, I am going to check out the Army Reserves this coming October after I visit the Eye doctor because I want this bad enough. I find this article and response knowledgeable because at first I believed the Army Surgeon General was for both Active and Reserve components of the Army including the Guard and I always thought the ASVAB score was valid for two years. And the fact that I was denied a vision waiver in the past has had me worried that it’d happen again this time with the reserves after they look at a past application simply because MEPS and some recruiters wouldn’t want to waste time on someone who was already disqualified and denied a waiver in the past. That would suck bad. I have to admit that this anxiety-provoking situation is hard to stomach, but because I want in the Army, I’ll do whatever I have to do to get in even if that means taking another physical all over again. Thank again.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Brittany, I stand corrected on the ASVAB scores. I was basing my answer off personal experience instead of research. It appears as though we are both correct, depending on the circumstances. ASVAB scores are only good for 2 years if you have not yet enlisted. However, your ASVAB scores become permanent once you enlist, unless you wish to retake the test in order to try and improve your score. I based my answer on personal experience because I rejoined the military after a long break in service and did not have to retake the ASVAB. I apologize for giving you incorrect information in the previous response.

      The best I can tell you is to get all your medical issues straightened out before you try applying again. That is the most important issue at hand. Once that is taken care of, you can go through the application process, even if it means taking the ASVAB again and starting the application from the beginning. Best of luck!

  83. Brittany M. Scott says

    And I don’t believe in the “Contact your Congressman/woman” myth because all they’ll do is asked why I was disqualified only to learn that the military followed regulations and did not violate any and then say “Sorry, can’t help you.” ******* off Army recruiters and station commanders and the Army in general is not the route and risk I am willing to take because the military probably wouldn’t appreciate disqualified applicants getting political leaders involved in their business and decisions they make.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Brittany, You are correct – don’t contact your Congressman or Representative. We specifically state this in the article. Congressional representatives can’t help you here; this is strictly handled by the military and their respective Surgeon General’s office.

      Regarding waivers – I don’t believe the military is rejecting any applicant that needs a waiver. I joined the Air National Guard last summer, and I needed a waiver to join. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t being more selective with which waivers they approve. If you are planning on getting a new medical exam in October, then that may be a good time to start with a new application. The military will consider your application based on the evidence you provide. They may look at previous applications, but it’s the information in your file at the time you apply that will have the most bearing on your application.

      You may also consider trying to join the Army Reserves, which I believe has a different Surgeon Generals office than the Guard, or you could try joining the military in a different branch, such as the Air Force Reserves, Air National Guard, or something else.

      (this section corrected) ASVAB cores are good for only two years if you haven’t yet joined the military. Once you join, they are good for life, unless you want to try and improve your scores to get into a different career field. So once you get in, don’t take it again unless you prepare for it and believe you can score substantially better than you did the first time. Otherwise, it’s not worth taking it again.

      I recommend printing this article for reference and listening to the accompanying podcast (you can download it as an mp3). There is a lot of information about how the waiver process works. I hope this helps. Best of luck with joining the Army National Guard!

  84. Brittany M. Scott says

    Hello, I am Brittany and I have been trying to get into the Army National Guard since August 2013. I was disqualified at MEPS that year for excessive refractive error in right eye and it’s also a lazy eye a.k.a, amblyopia. Amblyopia basically means that my right eye isn’t correctable to 20/20 with glasses. Glasses can only correct it to 20/40. My left eye is fine and correct to 20/20 with glasses. The physical ended in a PULHES code of 3 in the eyes area and all 1’s on the rest. A waiver for my vision was recommended. Because decreased dept perception and stereopsis vision is associated with amblyopia, the guard denied the waiver even though both eyes are healthy otherwise. Because I still would like to become a new soldier part-time, I’ve been doing some eye-patching of my good eye to force the weaker eye to work and increase depth perception and stereovision. I am going back to the eye doctor in October 2015 and trying again for the Army. My guard recruiter stated that because the military is downsizing and not needing many people right now, they are pretty much rejecting all waivers altogether and not entertaining any more so it isn’t just me they keep denying. He also stated that I can either wait until the military starts needing people again, which could be 20-40 years from now, or wait two years until my physical expires and try again. My physical becomes obsolete in August 2015 so I want to try again in October even if that means starting all over with a new ASVAB score and new physical and include new medical eye results for the doctor to see when asked about why I was rejected for the military in the past. Do you bring medical documentation with you to MEPS to prove remedial of a previous disqualifying condition? Is it really true that one can try again in two years for one branch of service if rejected by it the last time? Or are you done for life and will never be able to try again, ever, if you have been denied a waiver in the past? Please help me. Vision was the only thing that got me rejected, nothing else. I have no drug history or past law violations. Oh, no exotropia or esotropia is present in my eyes. And most important, I am not joining just for the “benefits and money,” I just want to serve.

  85. Vladimir says

    If I’m going through a waiver process for the Marines, can I back out and try the Army? I saw a counselor when I was 8 and was on anti-depressants until I was 10. Reason being because my dad beat my mom and I quite a bit. But they got divorced and now everything’s good. I can assure that I’m perfectly fine. Athlete, honor student, etc. I’d actually forgotten about most of that stuff until I went to MEPS and it was brought up. I was actually listed as qualified first but when I was waiting to do my background check a doctor in medical told me that I’d be DQ’d and have to go to a psych consult. I went, and now I’m on a BUMED board. If I’m on the BUMED board, can I back out of it to join another branch? Or do I have to wait for the results of the BUMED board?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Vladimir, Thanks for contacting me. You should speak to your recruiter about this. But in all honesty, it’s probably best to let the BUMED board play its course. You can’t apply to MEPS when you have another pending application. That will cause a red flag and may slow down the process or even get you denied from serving.

      Once you know how the BUMED process will end up, then you can look at joining a different branch of the military. Remember, even if you have been approved through MEPS, you don’t have to immediately swear in and ship out. You can still take your time to think things through. Can you join the Army at that point? That depends. At that point, you would need to contact an Army recruiter and explain the entire situation, including the need for a waiver for the Marines, and the BUMED process. The Army recruiter can then discuss your options with you and advise you on whether or not you would need to reapply for the Army, or if the MEPS process you already went through would be sufficient. Best of luck!

  86. Dan says

    Awesome article. Wish I had known about this last year. Tried to apply, and was turned down due to having cancer 5 years ago. Even though I’m cured, I was PDQ. Didn’t know about the PULEHS, or the Surgeon General, as my recruiters never mentioned them. I’d still love to serve, so do you think that someone with a history of testicular cancer has a shot at getting a waiver?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Dan, Glad you found this article helpful. I wish I had it when I went through the process too!

      I’m happy to hear you have gotten over the cancer. I hope you will remain cancer-free. To be honest, I don’t know much about how cancer is viewed or rated by the medical professionals at MEPS. The best I can say is to look through the DODI and read what it says about your condition, then armed with that information, contact a recruiter. You will want to be up front about the situation, but let them know you have researched joining the military and you are willing to work with them to help you obtain a medical waiver if possible.

      Keep in mind the military is currently in a drawdown, meaning they are reducing the number of troops they have. Most active duty branches aren’t having any troubles meeting their recruiting quotas, which may make it a little more difficult to get in than in times when they are having troubles meeting quotas. So you may consider working with different branches of the service if your primary branch won’t accept you. You could also consider joining the Guard or Reserves if you are unable to get an active duty slot. Important: please do not try to join more than one branch of the military at any given time. This can cause problems through MEPS and with your recruiters. This can be a time-intensive process, so you will need to be patient.

      I wish you the best!

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