So, you receive a letter that says you are DQ, what next. The letter will explain exactly what your options are, so read the letter carefully. You basically have two options if you don’t want to give up and accept the finding. You can respond to DODMERB with the argument that your medical information is erroneous, and you really don’t have the disqualifying condition. This shouldn’t be an emotional “yes, I’m blind in one eye, but I’m able to do just about everything someone with sight in both eyes can do”, it needs to be “although I was diagnosed with blindness in one eye, I have subsequently seen a specialist who has determined that I have perfect vision in both eyes”.
Alright, you were disqualifed by DODMERB, and you can’t make a strong argument that you don’t have the conditions all your medical records say you do. If DODMERB denies your rebuttal the next step is for your physical to be passed to Cadet Command for waiver consideration. Each branch of service has the ability to waive the medical disqualification, or to say “although the applicant has a condition that does not meet DODMERB standards, we will take the risk of waiving that DQ and allowing the applicant to serve”. Using asthma as an example, the Army may have decided that although someone has been diagnosed after the age of 13 (a DODMERB DQ) if the applicant can pass a pulmonary functions test, and hasn’t used medication to control breathing difficulty then they will allow the applicant to serve. The Army is governed by an Army Regulation 40-501 standards-of-medical-fitness. The Cadet Command surgeon will review your file, and any additional information you and your doctors provide regarding your condition. You may be directed, as with the DODMERB, to provide additional information and undergo additional tests. These are known as remedials.
Some articles about he waiver process from the USMA website Some of this information is USMA specific, but the general information about the process is helpful.
The military has standards for a reason. We are not an equal opportunity employer when it comes to conditions that would make you unfit for service. You may think that your condition wouldn’t hinder you, but the Army has their reason. Every employee in our corporation needs to be able to go to places where medications may not be readily available. They need to go to places where regular hygiene may be an issue. They need to be able to walk, run, carry heavy stuff, and otherwise do what soldiers do in difficult conditions. If someone becomes sick or incapacitated in a forward deployed area, it won’t be just them that will be taken out of the fight and put at risk. A buddy or medical personnel will have to tend to them. Medical vehicles or aircraft will have to travel to evacuate them. Personnel and assets that could be used in the fight, will instead be dealing with a sick or injured soldier. That is why we have medical standards.
Final words of wisdom…be honest…be thorough…be persistent.
In part 3 I’ll cover some common disqualifies.