What Happens If MEPS Disqualifies You? Next Steps and Options

by | Joining the Military | 1 comment

Facing a disqualification at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) can feel like a major setback, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your military aspirations. MEPS plays a crucial role in determining if you meet the medical, physical, and moral standards required for service. If you find yourself disqualified, it’s essential to understand the reasons behind it and what steps you can take next.

You might be wondering what options are available if MEPS disqualifies you. Whether it’s a temporary issue that can be resolved or a more permanent condition, knowing your next steps can make all the difference. This article will guide you through the process, offering insights into potential waivers, appeals, and alternative paths to achieving your goal of serving in the military.

Understanding MEPS and Its Role

What Is MEPS?

The Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) plays a crucial role in the enlistment process. MEPS evaluates whether applicants meet the medical, physical, and educational standards required by the military. With 65 MEPS locations across the United States and Puerto Rico, it ensures each recruit is fit for service, adhering to stringent guidelines and protocols. Understanding MEPS helps you navigate the enlistment journey more effectively.

How MEPS Evaluates Applicants

MEPS conducts a comprehensive evaluation process to assess potential recruits. The evaluation includes medical examinations, aptitude tests, and background checks. Medical tests cover vision, hearing, blood pressure, and other vital health metrics. The aptitude tests, like the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), measure cognitive abilities and technical skills. Background checks ensure there are no disqualifying criminal records. Each step at MEPS ensures only qualified individuals join the military, maintaining high standards for service members.

Together, these evaluations determine an applicant’s eligibility and readiness, providing a thorough assessment to support a capable and competent military force.

Common Reasons for Disqualification at MEPS

Several factors might lead to disqualification at MEPS. Knowing these helps you better prepare for the process.

Medical Disqualifications

MEPS often disqualifies candidates for medical reasons. Common issues include:

  1. Vision and Hearing Problems: Vision impairments like myopia and hearing deficits are scrutinized. You must meet specific thresholds.
  2. Chronic Conditions: Asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy frequently disqualify applicants. These conditions impact your ability to perform physically demanding tasks.
  3. Mental Health Issues: Depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders might lead to disqualification. MEPS evaluates your mental fitness for service.
  4. Substance Abuse: A history of drug or alcohol abuse often disqualifies candidates. Expect thorough screening during the medical exam.

Moral or Criminal Disqualifications

Criminal records and moral conduct also affect your eligibility. Common reasons include:

  1. Felony Convictions: Serious crimes typically lead to immediate disqualification. The military maintains strict standards.
  2. Misdemeanor Offenses: Repeat offenses or severe misdemeanors, like theft or assault, may disqualify you. Each case undergoes individual assessment.
  3. Drug-Related Crimes: Any involvement with illegal drugs often results in disqualification. The military enforces a zero-tolerance policy.
  4. Behavioral Issues: Patterns of antisocial behavior or dishonesty during the application process impact your chances. Integrity is crucial.

Understanding these disqualifiers helps you approach MEPS more confidently, knowing what to expect and prepare for.

The Immediate Aftermath of a MEPS Disqualification

Getting disqualified at MEPS can be disappointing. But, understanding what happens next is essential.

Notification and Documentation

You receive formal notification of your disqualification from MEPS directly. This notification includes detailed reasons for the disqualification, referencing medical records, test results, or background checks where applicable. You may get a copy of the documentation to review.

Counseling and Guidance Provided

After receiving notification, you’re provided with counseling to understand your options. A counselor explains possible next steps, including waiver requests or corrective actions. You’ll also get guidance on how to address any disqualifying conditions, whether they pertain to medical issues or other factors.

Exploring Your Options Post-Disqualification

Being disqualified by MEPS can feel like hitting a brick wall, but several pathways could still lead to a successful military career. You can explore different avenues to overcome the disqualification.

Requesting a Waiver or Appeal

You can request a waiver or appeal if a medical condition or legal issue is the reason for disqualification. MEPS provides specific guidelines for submitting these requests. The waiver process involves gathering additional documentation, such as detailed medical records or legal certificates, showcasing your current status. A waiver requires patience and diligence since military review boards meticulously evaluate each case.

If the disqualification involves a minor medical condition, MEPS may approve a waiver more readily. For example, applicants with a controlled and documented case of asthma could qualify for reconsideration. In legal scenarios, demonstrating rehabilitation or community service can significantly sway the decision in your favor.

Alternative Paths to Military Service

Even if a waiver isn’t granted, alternative paths to military service exist. The military offers various roles that may not have the same stringent requirements as combat positions. For instance, technical or administrative roles could be viable options.

You could also consider enlisting in a reserve component or National Guard unit, which sometimes has more flexible entry standards. These options provide valuable military experience and training without the initial full-time commitment.

Finally, meeting with a recruiter is crucial. Recruiters possess up-to-date knowledge on the latest entry requirements and can guide you through the maze of military jargon and procedures. Focusing on positions aligning with your skills and interests maximizes your chances of finding a suitable role within the military framework.

Exploring every available option and staying informed and persistent can establish a path to military service even though initial setbacks.


Facing a MEPS disqualification can feel like a major setback, but it’s not the end of your journey. Understanding the reasons behind your disqualification and exploring the available options can help you navigate this challenging period. Whether it’s pursuing a waiver, taking corrective actions, or considering alternative military roles, persistence and patience are key. Use the resources and guidance provided by MEPS and your recruiters to make informed decisions. Remember, many have successfully overcome initial disqualifications and gone on to fulfilling military careers. Stay determined and keep exploring every avenue available to achieve your goal.


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