Medical clearance is an important but confusing part of joining the military. Acceptance into an ROTC program is no exception.
This article will discuss automatic medical disqualifiers for ROTC and break down the entire process, explaining how DoDMERB plays into the process. If you have yet to apply for an ROTC scholarship, learn more about the dates and deadlines for the available programs here.
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.
You can also listen to our podcast on the DoDMERB process at the bottom of this article.
- 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.
- Substandard color vision
- 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)
- Major joint issues
- ACL reconstruction
- Seizure disorders after the age of 5
- Recurrent or severe headaches
Understand the Abbreviations
What is DoDMERB?
DoDMERB is the agency responsible for your medical clearance for your acceptance into ROTC. 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.
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 branch of service 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.
The results after your physical can take from 6-8 weeks to come back with a Q/DQ decision.
Follow Instructions for Each ROTC Program
Each ROTC program in different services has slightly different methods for the DoDMERB physical. Understanding these differences is key to making sure you are able to complete everything on time!
If you want to fly, you’ll need a Class 1 Flight Physical which must be completed by November of your junior year of college. This process happens once you are already an Air Force ROTC cadet.
If you are applying through the High School Scholarship Program, DoDMERB will automatically forward the waiver to the Air Education and Training Command Surgeon General for consideration. You’ll still want to keep a close eye on the status of your waiver.
If you are already in college, the AF ROTC Detachment Commander at your school will submit your waiver.
Navy and Marine Corps ROTC
The waiver authority for Navy ROTC is the Bureau of Navy Medicine and Surgery (BUMED). Once your physical is completed, any disqualifying conditions will begin the waiver process through BUMED. Follow the waiver process closely and make sure you schedule all required appointments as soon as possible.
Be Honest During your ROTC DoDMERB Physical
Be honest with your providers. Nothing good can come of hiding conditions. Your ROTC scholarship will be put in jeopardy if you hide a condition.
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.
If you need a waiver, you will receive instructions from each service 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 waiver authorities for each service receive all the documentation through DoDMERB to grant waivers, so it’s very important to complete all requirements through DoDMERB.
Need help with your ROTC Scholarship application? We provide full assistance from start to finish with the application! View our services here.
Listen below as LTC Kirkland explores the DoDMERB medical process in our podcast with a parent whose son recently went through the process.