On Medical Waivers II

Three Helpful Statements
Megan Hostler, ZAC AFF-CT
Larry Schlanser, Plebe-net Moderator
David Graham, Member, AFF-WA


First Statement
Megan Hostler, ZAC AFF-CT

When dealing with the issue of medical waivers, we must ALL place our reliance and trust in both DODMERB and USMA Directorate of Admissions. They work together, as a team. As a field force representative, and one who attended the last MALO conference, I can assure all that one thing I clearly came away with was an understanding how USMA DAD and DODMERB have been working to streamline the process... Is it cut and dry? No. Just as EVERY medical issue has it's different nuances - when it comes to medical issues, the best advice I have ever received is "never say never, and never say always".

Simply put ... follow the directions of DODMERB. DODMERB acts as a clearing house. Thumbnail primer:

Medical taken - candidate falls in one of three categories: qualified, remedial or disqualified. If qualified, hooray and congratulations.

If remedial, DODMERB requests additional information. Note that a remedial condition may subsequently turn into a disqualifying condition.

If DODMERB discovers, in its review of the file, even ONE disqualifying factor, it ceases its review and forwards the file to USMA. There are two different categories of disqualifiers: rebuttable and non rebuttable. If rebuttable, DODMERB invites the candidate to submit further information to DODMERB and subsequently on to USMA for consideration (such as the condition never really existed). If deemed a non-rebuttable, it goes directly to USMA. USMA (Regional Commander) then determines, based on the candidates likelihood of being successful in the rest of the application process, either puts in for a waiver, or makes a determination not to seek a waiver at that particular time until/unless the candidate's file is more complete and shows promise of ultimately being able to obtain a nomination and subsequent appointment (aside from the medical issue).

IF USMA Doctors determine that the disqualifying factor may be waiver-able under some circumstances, they communicate with DODMERB, who in turn communicates with the candidate and informs them of the required tests. At this point, you could say that DODMERB continues as the clearing house. DODMERB also continues its review of the file, and whereas a candidate may have initially have been informed of one disqualifying issue, more may arise.

PLEASE, let us not get into practicing medicine without a license :) All medical conditions are different - the severity, the regularity, etc.... Just follow the directions that come from DODMERB, and know that they are working in concert with West Point.

Best of luck to ALL of US (yes, I have a prospective ... in the midst of the medical) as we sit and patiently wait for the wheels to grind.... slowly, sometimes ever so seemingly slowly.... but then, there are millions to process and ........

Second Statement
Larry Schlanser, Plebe-net Moderator

The following is a document I wrote a few years back after my son had been disqualified. We worked through the process and eventually got the disqualification removed by DODMERB so didn't have to go the Waiver route. Hopefully there is some information here that will be helpful to you. Remember that I wrote this in 1999 after much research but procedures may have changed some since then. Your admissions Officer at West Point is still your best source of information and action and if your candidate is highly qualified they will work hard to get your candidate into West Point.

Q: Action to take after a DODMERB Disqualification ?

A: First, this is not the end of the world. Many, many candidates get the disqualification removed or get waivers and are eventually admitted. This is just another hurdle in the application process which mujst be overcome. A medical disqualification does not stop anyone from being considered for receiving an appointment to West Point. However, the disqualification must be cleared or a waiver obtained before it is possible to report on R-day. It often seems that any history that may give the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board(DODMERB) a reason to disqualify prospective candidates will disqualify them. They apply government regulations to the letter so qualification or disqualification is a very black and white issue to them. This disqualifying condition may be something discovered during a physical exam or from those conditions on the physical exam instruction (Athsma, Allergies, broken bones etc). which require you to send in your Doctor's medical records. Some disqualifications are virtually automatic. For instance, any mention of Athsma in your medical records will get flagged and cause a disqualification. The letter of Disqualification from DODMERB outlines the procedure for getting a waiver or rebuttal (A rebuttal means that the disqualifying condition does not now exist or had never existed; a waiver means that although the condition still exists, the academy will waive this medical requirement and allow admission.

If you wish to rebut the disqualification, you need to collect as much information as possible which will support your position that the medical problem did not/does not exist/or will not exist when you enter West Point and submit it to DODMERB. This information could include statements from your Doctor, second opinions from another Doctor, statements from school officials ( candidate has not missed school because of the problem), or coaches( problem has not effected athletic performance). Submit any information that you feel might influence DODMERB to remove the disqualification. DODMERB will evaluate as this documentation is received and may order additional testing(either at a military hospital or at your expense), remove the disqualification, let the disqualification stand or let the disqualification stand but review status at a future date(for conditions which are 'temporary"). Even if DODMERB does not remove the disqualification, all pertinent information is contained in the DODMERB file and you can now work on getting a waiver.

USMA automatically considers for medical waiver all candidates who have been disqualified. BUT you need to forward any supporting information to DODMERB and your admissions officer. It is important that this information is forwarded to DODMERB because the surgeons at West Point will get all medical information from the DODMERB files. There is no guarantee that the surgeons will see any medical information that you may have sent to your admissions officer for your file. You cannot be considered for a waiver until your admission file at West Point is complete so be sure and complete the Phase 2 (application [= Candidate Kit/Second Step Kit]) package of forms when it is received in the early fall. Your area Admissions officer at West Point will act as your advocate in guiding your case through the waiver process. Make sure your son/daughter keeps in touch with him/her frequently. This shows interest as well as keeping you informed of where you stand in the waiver process. Naturally, the stronger your overall admission "package" is, the more likely that you will receive a waiver. Your situation will be reviewed by a committee of surgeons at West Point who will decide if a waiver is granted. Even if a waiver is denied by the medical panel, you should appeal the decision. Your case will then be referred to the Superintendent who has the final decision.

Third Statement
David Graham, Member, AFF-WA

The waiver process is started at the discretion of your Regional Commander, who is your main contact at USMA Admissions. Waivers for medical conditions are not automatically sought by Regional Commanders. They are sought at the discretion of the Regional Commander who is in charge of a Candidate's file. If a waiver is sought, it is sought by the Regional Commander from staff at West Point, not from staff at DODMERB.

The place to resolve medical issues, if possible, is upstream, at DODMERB, directly between a Candidate's family/local MD and the DODMERB MD making a determination on a Candidate's medical status. If a medical finding that is eligible for a waiver is reported out of DODMERB to USMA, the Candidate's Regional Commander at USMA, at their discretion, may seek a waiver for that medical finding. However, a Candidate's Regional Commander is not obliged to seek such a waiver.

You may certainly ask your Regional Commander to start a waiver process but your request is not what starts a waiver process. The discretionary decision of the Regional Commander starts a waiver process.