Waivers for Joining the Military
Enlistment Waivers for Disqualifying Issues
Waivers for entrance into the military are available, but they are not easy to obtain. First, there is a long list of reasons why there are disqualification for certain things ranging from illegal activity, medical ailment, color blindness, and even age. In my time as a military member, I have known people who received waivers for a variety of reasons. Getting approval for a disqualifying issue is easier said than done and you will need a recruiter who knows how the process works as well as one willing to invest his time and efforts into you as a future member of the military.
Regardless, once the recruiter agrees to put in a request for a waiver, the chain of command will have to approve it. The more serious the waiver - the higher up the chain of command must approve thus the longer approval will take.
The most common waivers like eye vision laser surgery has a process that is easy to follow. The more difficult issues like serious medical conditions (cancer, major surgeries) and criminal activity can be waived but there is usually a strict timeline and many hurdles to climb to accomplish waivers in these areas.
Most Common Approved and Disapproved Waivers
There are several common waivers people apply for. Some are almost guaranteed depending upon the job (MOS / rating), some are almost always denied. Here are the waivers most commonly seen:
Morals (criminal history) Waiver - Felonies are seldom approved, but in times of need (war), many of these waivers are approved to meet required numbers of military members. Juvenile records are subject to review as well by the military.
Medical Waivers - There are many ailments that the military will deny entrance to an applicant if he/she has in their record. You will not 100% know for sure that you are medically qualified for military service until after a successful trip to see a military doctor at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station).
Here is a list of the most commonly approved and most often denied:
LASIK and PRK Vision Repair Surgery - Usually LASIK or PRK eye surgery are easily processed but requires a six months post surgery recovery time before you can enlist or commission. After a thorough check up by the MEPS doctors, a waiver will be processed.
Color Blindness - You can still join the military and be color blind but there are some jobs that require red / green color vision to join their ranks. A number of combat operations jobs in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps all require to soldiers to see vivid reds and greens. The same goes for the special operations and aviation jobs.
Asthma - This is a difficult one to approve and it often has to be proven you no longer have asthmatic issues or take asthma medications. The problem is the medication prescribed. You have to be off the medication or symptomatic since your 13th birthday
ADHD /ADD - This one has recently been moved to the "sometimes approved" category from the "never approved". Often younger children can be misdiagnosed or grow out of such behavior / focus issues. Full medical records are required if the applicant was ever treated for ADD or ADHD with any medication other than Ritalin, Adderal, or Dexedrine, or treatment for issues like depression.
Broken Bones - Broken bones that heal without surgery are easily approved. However, surgeries with metal or other instruments to secure bones and ligaments or other body parts can be disqualifying. You will need all associated paperwork from your doctor, surgeon, physical therapist to present to the military medical review at MEPS.
Age - Age waivers in the military do often occur depending upon the job. Jobs in special ops rarely have age waivers, but they do occur on a case by case basis. Regular military age waivers for professional jobs in the legal, medical, religious fields are often waived due to force requirement needs.
For more information on the official military list of medical issues that will disqualify you from service - see link. (DoDI 6130.03, April 28, 2010)