Medical Disqualifications Overview
The following is a list of selected disqualifying medical conditions which may or may not be waivable. This list is not comprehensive but is intended to provide some guidance to applicants regarding common disqualifying issues.
Some procedures to change refraction can disqualify you from entry to military service unless specific preoperative conditions are met and the procedure is accomplished more than 180 days before the DoDMERB examination. Applicants who have undergone refractive surgery before this time should expect to provide specific details of the preoperative assessment and postoperative follow-up in support of commissioning clearance or waiver action.
Applicants under orthodontic care (e.g., with braces) must complete the active phase of their treatment plan before entry to the United States Air Force Academy. This means braces must have been removed, though retainers not requiring active orthodontic follow-up are still permissible. In a few cases, orthodontic treatment may be initiated or resumed while at the U.S. Air Force Academy, but no guarantees can be provided in advance regarding availability of these services.
Ears and Hearing Disqualification
Hearing must meet the acceptable levels for commissioning. Current tympanic membrane perforations must be fully healed or surgically repaired before entry to the U.S. Air Force Academy. See Medical Standards for information on acceptable hearing levels.
Allergic Conditions Disqualification
Food allergies resulting in systemic symptoms remain disqualifying for entry into military service. Waiver approval may require food allergy to be formally disproven by an oral food challenge conducted by a board-certified allergist. Immunotherapy for seasonal allergies is not disqualifying for entry to military service and the U.S. Air Force Academy but continuation during the initial years of cadet training may be problematic, and completion of immunotherapy prior to entry is strongly urged.
Chronic diseases of the skin such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and eczema are disqualifying. Waivers may be considered for mild cases of eczema and atopic dermatitis but will not be considered for psoriasis (which is a systemic disease).
The curriculum at the U.S. Air Force Academy is challenging, and many find the environment stressful. A history of depressive or anxiety symptoms may be considered for waiver if treatment has been completed and a period of convincing stability demonstrated without need for ongoing medication or psychotherapy. Those with unresolved mental health issues and those with prolonged/recurrent or more severe diagnoses are unlikely to be considered waivable.
Respiratory System Disqualification
A history of recurrent bronchospasm for any reason, including asthma, reactive airway disease and exercise-induced bronchospasm. Bronchospasm which was reliably diagnosed and treated beyond age 13 is disqualifying for entry to military service and entry to service academies. Waivers may be possible, but only if convincing evidence suggests that a diagnosis was erroneous or that the condition has credibly resolved. Ongoing use of medication to treat or prevent bronchospasm does not convey resolution of such a condition and will result in waiver denial.
Heart and Vascular System Disqualification
Any abnormalities of the heart valves, major vessels, heart rate or rhythm may require additional examination procedures.
Genitourinary System Disqualification
A history of bedwetting that is not convincingly resolved, or any unresolved physiologic or anatomic abnormalities of the urinary tract, is likely to result in medical disqualification.
Gastrointestinal System Disqualification
Chronic disease of the abdominal organs; chronic or recent hepatitis, including hepatitis B carriers; inflammatory bowel disorders are likely to result in medical disqualification.
Musculoskeletal System Disqualification
Un-united fractures, history of instability of a major joint, certain retained orthopedic fixation devices, severe scoliosis, or any condition that could interfere with daily participation in rigorous physical training or athletic programs, wearing of military equipment, or detract from military bearing and appearance are disqualifying. A history of ACL reconstruction is disqualifying but usually waivable. Injuries occurring AFTER the DoDMERB examination may be disqualifying if inadequate time exists for resolution and return to unrestricted activity prior to entry to the U.S. Air Force Aca...
Un-united fractures, history of instability of a major joint, certain retained orthopedic fixation devices, severe scoliosis, or any condition that could interfere with daily participation in rigorous physical training or athletic programs, wearing of military equipment, or detract from military bearing and appearance are disqualifying. A history of ACL reconstruction is disqualifying but usually waivable. Injuries occurring AFTER the DoDMERB examination may be disqualifying if inadequate time exists for resolution and return to unrestricted activity prior to entry to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Neurological and Learning Disorders
Seizure disorders (except febrile convulsions in childhood) and recurrent or severe headaches may be disqualifying and waivable only to be determined on a case-by-case basis. A history of learning disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD) may only be considered for waiver if an applicant has demonstrated successful academic performance off stimulant medication or other treatment for at least 15 months and if no educational accommodations have been required.