By Buddy Blouin

ADHD military policy is complex. While those diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) aren’t explicitly disqualified from joining the military, there are stipulations troops must adhere to in order to serve in the American Armed Forces.

There are tens of thousands of troops with ADHD in the military; however, everyone who joins the military must go through an evaluation process at the Military Entrance and Processing Station (MEPS) to assess whether or not they are capable of serving.

The criteria involving ADHD and the military aren’t limited to the disorder alone but also apply to other health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and various mental health disorders.

All of these are capable of disqualifying you from service but must meet certain criteria during your examination at MEPS that will assess your aptitude, various skills, and physical abilities.

To be disqualified from the U.S. military due to ADHD, you must meet the following criteria, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD):

  • You have been recommended or prescribed an Individualized Education Program, 504 Plan, or work accommodations after turning 14.
  • You have a history of comorbid mental disorders.
  • You’ve been prescribed medication within 24 months for ADHD; or
  • There is a documented history of adverse performance in an academic setting or occupational/workspace.

Additionally, if a doctor determines that you have had mental health issues with school or work since turning 13 years old or have a history of issues with work, school, or social groups, you may also be disqualified.

Can You Join the Military With ADHD Medication?

If you are taking ADHD medication when tested at MEPS to help you in academics, you can be disqualified. If you require certain accommodations for test taking, MEPS will not provide them.

When dealing with ADHD and military enlistment, planning ahead is key.

You’ll want to have the proper methods of taking tests and thriving in a work environment without medication in place. Speaking to your healthcare team is essential.

How to Get a Military Waiver for ADHD

Getting an ADHD military waiver is possible, which can help you enlist by proving that you are capable of succeeding in classroom and work environments.

To get your ADHD waiver for military service, you’ll need to request one by contacting either your doctor or psychiatrist.

These medical professionals can provide you with a statement showing that your ADHD won’t hinder your military service.

Keep in mind that a military ADHD waiver can help you enlist but the branch you are enlisting will have the final say.

Remember to plan ahead when requesting your ADHD military waiver as you must be able to show proof that you have not taken medication while also proving stability and the ability to succeed in the classroom and on the job site for a year.

You must also be able to pass a psychological evaluation without the use of ADHD medication.

Failing to Disclose Your ADHD Military Status

Serving in the military and ADHD history don’t have to be kept apart. As stated above, you can still join, there are just a few considerations to keep in mind when doing so.

The majority of applicants disclose their ADHD history when speaking to a recruiter or throughout the MEPS process. There are several medical documents that you’ll need to provide when enlisting.

Finding out every little detail of your medical history may not come out at first as the U.S. military is largely working off of what you provide them when enlisting. However, depending on your security clearance, more may be asked of you.

Being open and honest about your ADHD and medical history as a whole is the best route. This includes your mental health history.

For a number of reasons, failing to disclose your ADHD to the military can be detrimental to your personal well-being as well as the operational readiness of the American Armed Forces.

Furthermore, if you’re thinking about lying or hiding your ADHD, you may want to think twice before doing so.

Anyone who doesn’t disclose their ADHD and becomes a part of any military branch can be charged with fraudulent enlistment, which is a federal felony under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

The UCMJ Article 83 provides violations for anyone guilty of fraudulent enlistment, which includes a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and two years of confinement.

Dealing with ADHD and military enlistment can be a challenge; however, the measures in place help work in the best interests of both individuals and those serving to maintain their safety and ensure they are getting the most out of themselves.

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