Medical clearance is an important but confusing part of joining the military. Attending a military academy is no exception. 

This article will discuss automatic medical disqualifiers for the Service Academies and break down the entire process.

You can also listen to our recent podcast episode on the DoDMERB process at the bottom of this post.

Many candidates wonder what the most common disqualifiers are. Just because these are disqualifiers, there is still hope. Some of these conditions are eligible for waivers, it really just depends on your specific situation.

1. Common Service Academy Medical Disqualifications- DoD Instruction 6130.03

  • Vision – 
    • Your vision must be correctable to 20/20.
    • PRK and LASIK can disqualify unless specific preoperative conditions are met and you finished the procedure at least 180 days before the DoDMERB exam.
  • Currently have braces 
  • Hearing levels outside of acceptable standards for commissioning
  • Food allergies (fish, shellfish, peanut, or tree nuts) 
  • Skin conditions including psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and eczema (after the age of 9)
  • Mental health conditions including a history of depression or anxiety requiring medication (within the last 36 months)
  • Learning disorders after the 14th birthday (ex. IEPs, 504 Plans or work accommodations)
  • Asthma (after the 13th birthday)
  • Bronchospasm (after the 13th birthday)
  • Heart abnormalities and defects
  • Bedwetting and urinary tract abnormalities (within the past 24 months)
  • Hepatitis
  • IBS
  • Scoliosis
  • Major joint issues
  • ACL reconstruction
  • Seizure disorders after the age of 5
  • Recurrent or severe headaches
  • ADD/ADHD

2. Understand the Abbreviations

What is DoDMERB?

DoDMERB is the agency responsible for your medical clearance for your service academy application. DoDMERB is the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board. It’s a big organization and a big bureaucracy so you can expect the entire process to take extra time and effort!

What is DoDMETS?

DoDMETS is an online system that tracks your medical status. DoDMETS is the Department of Defence Medical Exam Testing System. This is the system that tracks exams, making sure scheduling happens, and helping you complete all the medical requirements for DoDMERB.

3. Start the DoDMERB Process Early!

It can take a long time to get your physical scheduled, up to 30 days. We recommend scheduling the physical as early as possible. However, there are different requirements for each service academy so it’s important to understand what steps you need to take to initiate your clearance with DoDMERB. 

Scheduling your DoDMERB Physical Exam

You’ll have three options for scheduling your physical:

  • Concorde contractor
  • Medical Treatment Facility
  • Private doctor

The first two options are both paid for by the government, but if you choose to use your own doctor you’ll need to pay out of pocket for the exam. 

When you get correspondence from DoDMERB once your physical is complete, you could hear 1 of 3 things:

  • Qualified – (also called Q) Congrats, you passed the medical process!
  • Disqualified – (also called DQ) There is a condition that does not meet medical standards, however there is still a chance you may be granted a waiver. It’s not the end of the world and just another hurdle in the application process to overcome.
  • Remedial – More information is needed before DoDMERB can make a decision either way. Make sure you take care of the extra requirements quickly. 

Through the process of going through DoDMERB, you might receive a disqualification code or a remedial code. You can look up what these mean on the DoDMERB website here.

4. Follow Instructions for each Service Academy

Each Service Academy has slightly different methods for the DoDMERB physical. Understanding these differences is key to making sure you are able to complete everything on time! 

USAFA

In order to start the DoDMERB process, you have to fill out at least 3 of these 5 requirements before the admissions team will forward your name:

  • Candidate Fitness Assessment
  • Candidate Personal Data Record 
  • Candidate Activities Record
  • Teacher Evaluations
  • Writing Sample

Find out more specifics on the USAFA medical requirements page.

West Point

The DoDMERB process will start once you have started an admissions file and passed the initial screening process. 

USNA

The Naval Academy has pretty decent guidance regarding medical requirements in their medical appendix.

5. Honesty is Key

Be honest with your providers. Nothing good can come of hiding conditions. The academies will withdraw your application and prevent and disqualify you from applying again.

If you are honest about a condition upfront you may have time to work a waiver. The more time you can provide to get a waiver for your medical condition the better.

6. Each Service Academy Grants their own Waivers

Medical waivers allow applicants to enter military service programs even though they may not have met DoD medical standards. Waivers may be granted by the program to which you’re applying, NOT DoDMERB. The Service Academies automatically consider applicants for a medical waiver if they are competitive for admission.  These waivers are Service (Army, Navy, Force) specific.

You will receive instructions from each academy relayed through DoDMERB, directing DoDMERB to request additional tests, studies, or medical records/information. If this happens, it’s important to get these additional tests done as quickly as possible as the process can sometimes be quite lengthy. 

The doctors at each Service Academy receive all the documentation through DoDMERB to grant waivers, so it’s very important to complete all requirements through DoDMERB. 

Listen to our podcast episode on DoDMERB medical qualification process below!  In this episode, LTC Kirkland explores this subject with a parent whose son recently went through the DODMERB process

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