Medical Standards for the Military

Disqualifying Issues for Enlistment, Appointment, or Induction

Military service member seeing a doctor.

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc./ Getty Images 

The military does not allow people with certain medical conditions to join the ranks for many reasons, but it mainly stems from caring for the safety of all service members. Often in military service, those with special needs are unable to get the care or treatment they need while in the field, which can be dangerous not only for the ailing service member but the entire troop.

Many deployments with no access to medical facilities occur, especially within the Navy but also on certain bases in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Without proper access to their treatments, those with mental or physical disabilities may be rendered incapable of doing their jobs while deployed, making them all but a burden on the armed services.

Where to Find Out About Disqualifying Conditions

The information in this article comes from Army Regulation DOD 6130.03, DODD6130.3 and DODI6130.4, which provide complete information on all the medical fitness standards for induction, enlistment, appointment, retention, and related policies and procedures in the U.S. Armed Forces.

All disqualifying medical issues are determined by the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), which directs the use of Army Regulation 40-501, Chapter 2 for medical qualifications for all branches of the Armed Forces (including the Coast Guard).

The Reason for Medical Standards

The purpose of DOD medical standards is to ensure that medically qualified personnel who are accepted into the U.S. Armed Forces are properly evaluated for duty before and during enlistment so as to ensure the safety of the individual as well as other troop members.

These rules outline that military personnel must be free of contagious diseases that would likely endanger the health of others; of medical conditions or physical defects that would require excessive time away from active duty for treatment or hospitalization or would result in separation from the Armed Forces for medical unfitness; medically capable of satisfactorily completing training; medically adaptable to different environments without necessity of geographical area limits; and medically capable of performing duties without causing further harm to existing defects or medical conditions.

A recruit who fails to meet any of these requirements would be deemed medically unfit for service in the U.S. Armed Forces, though the specific regulations for just how mentally or physically disabled a service member can be and still enlist are constantly evolving.

Disqualifying Medical Conditions

Since the protocol for what medical conditions disqualify service members from enlisting constantly changes, it's important to stay up to date with military policy regarding medical standards for service.

The main medical or physical defects that can disqualify a recruit or service member from the Army are as follows. If you have any of the following conditions or defects, check specific requirements for medical standards before you enlist.

  • Abdominal Organs and Gastrointestinal System
  • Blood and BloodForming Tissue Diseases
  • Body Build Deficiency
  • Advanced Dental Diseases
  • Ears and Hearing Loss
  • Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders
  • Loss of Function in Upper Extremities
  • Loss of Function in Lower Extremities
  • Miscellaneous Conditions of the Extremities
  • Mental Health Issues
  • Eyes and Vision Loss
  • General and Miscellaneous Conditions and Defects
  • Genitalia and Reproductive Organs Diseases and Defects
  • Head Trauma or Defects
  • Heart and Vascular System Defects
  • Height and Weight Deficiencies
  • Lungs, Chest Wall, Pleura, and Mediastinum Defects
  • Mouth Disease
  • Chronic Neck Pain or Immobility
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Nose, Sinuses, and Larynx Defects
  • Skin and Cellular Tissue Defects
  • Spine and Sacroiliac Joint Defects
  • Systemic Diseases
  • Tumors and Malignant Diseases
  • Urinary System Disorders

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