The Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DoDMERB) has an interesting comment posted on its website: “…70% of young Americans are not qualified to serve. Part of that 70% are disqualified because of a medical condition.”
That does not mean that 70% of ROTC scholarship applicants are not qualified to serve, but it does give you an idea of how important a medical clearance is before you can be considered.
DoDMERB is the entity specifically tasked with reviewing and medically qualifying Military Academy and ROTC applicants. If you read the DoDMERB website, they are very clear about the way they must interpret the regulations. The Review Board has little leeway. If, for example, the regulations say that you are disqualified if you have been diagnosed with a heart murmur after age six, and you were diagnosed at age six and one week, they will disqualify you. Whether or not you currently run marathons weekly and have never experienced any outward effects of a heart murmur is immaterial.
DoDMERB lists some common medical conditions that are considered disqualifying. Some of the ones that most often can affect ROTC scholarship applicants are:
- Uncorrected vision worse than 20/400 in either eye
- Vision that is not correctable to 20/20
- Eczema after the age of eight
- A history of TMJ
- Psychotic episodes
- History of depression requiring meds, outpatient treatment or hospitalization
- Bedwetting/sleepwalking/eating disorders past the age of 12
Many times, the Board will ask for clarification on something. Both my twin boys (one already on active duty and the other starting in a couple months) were diagnosed with very slight heart murmurs at the age of two. Common with twins, they usually outgrow the murmurs. Knowing this, knowing their government medical records would reflect it and knowing that the examining physician would likely detect it, I made sure that they brought all the documentation including the extra cardiograms over the years and examining physician comments that the State Department made me obtain. Copies of each report were given to the ROTC examining doctor, and they were both cleared without further requests for more tests or clarification.
Another common problem, according to my boy’s ROTC units, is weight. As is well known, many American youths suffer from obesity. In both of my son’s ROTC battalions, each had at least one cadet who ultimately could not get commissioned due to a weight problem. These were cadets that joined ROTC in college and were hoping for a two or three-year scholarship.
Scholarship recipients must meet the Army’s standards, or they will not be considered. This is part of the DoDMERB responsibilities. Army Regulation 600-9, The Army Body Composition Program covers active duty as well as ROTC cadets and cadet-hopefuls. Relatively short for an Army Regulation, only 42 pages long, it gives you a specific range you must fall in if you want to serve in the Army or be allowed to stay. Unlike years ago, it is not just based on your weight in pounds. Where you place on the body fat index is also considered.
For example, someone six feet tall can weigh between 140-190 pounds, with a 22% body fat index.
If you are overweight, the ROTC units will do whatever they can to help you meet the requirements. Several previously overweight cadets in my sons’ units were ultimately able to get commissioned through dedication and perseverance. The cadre helped them in their spare time with a PT and diet program.
High School ROTC scholarship candidates, however, don’t have the luxury of cadre assistance. If you are overweight, in High School, and want to be favorably considered for a scholarship, talk to someone and get on a diet and exercise program that will get you in shape before the medical exam and physical fitness test.
Next Week, ROTC Application Process, Part III: Fitness Requirements
Disclaimer: The content of this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical
As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.
As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.
Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.
Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.