Maybe you’re interested in joining the Armed Services, but you’re not quite sure that you’re going to be able to. The Military is full of rules and regulations, and navigating them can be quite tedious. Too often those who are unsure skip the whole idea for the sheer difficulty of looking into it, and those who take the time to enlist are turned away for reasons unbeknownst to them until the last minute. We’ve done some research for you to help you determine what medical or legal conditions might prevent you from being able to join.

Have You Served Before?

This should come up quickly in the first conversation you have with a recruiter, and should be addressed honestly and with integrity. There is a required waiver for any applicant who was removed or discharged from any portion of the Armed Services for a long list of reasons. The reasons include everything from desertion to unsuitability. To keep matters clear for your purposes, the best idea is to discuss any previous service with a recruiter and to be honest with the reasons for your departure from that branch.

Age and Education

If you’re under 18, you may not join the Military without the consent of a guardian. Additionally, a high school diploma or GED is required as a pre-requisite. Some branches actually require bachelor’s degrees (those are usually Officers).

Other age limitations apply to different branches; for example, the Air Force will not take recruits over 27 years of age, the Marine Corps will not take recruits over 29 years of age, the Army and Navy will not take recruits over 34 years of age, and the Coast Guard won’t take those over 39. All recruits must take and pass the Armed Service and Vocational Aptitude Battery test with their branch’s respective passing score.

Medical Issues

The list of medical issues that might disqualify you is long, and should be read tediously. Bear in mind that many of these conditions are not permanently disqualifying, but may require a waiver. To determine the best course of action, you must discuss any issue with your recruiter.

Gastrointestinal issues start the list, with specific conditions ranging from chronic esophagitis, dismotility disorders, gastritis, and active ulcers to inflammatory bowel disease, viral hepatitis and hernias. Other medical conditions including blood and tissue diseases, vascular and cardiovascular disorders, dental diseases, disorders of the genitalia and urinary systems, endocrine disorders, neurological disorders, problems regarding ear, nose and throat, vision and hearing impairment are also common causes for disqualification.

Certain diseases such as HIV, rheumatic fever, sexually transmitted diseases are other known conditions that are strongly considered and possibly disqualifying before enlistment.

Misdemeanors, Felonies, Jail Time

Any action or event in your history that included legal punishment in any form must be discussed and will more than likely require a waiver to get beyond. Serious crimes may not be waived; regardless, any crime or event for punishment must be mentioned to a recruiter. To lie or fraudulently deceive your recruiter and to enlist without disclosing accurate information is cause for immediate discharge and is a crime in and of itself.

Substance Abuse

Drug and alcohol addiction or abuse is one last reason you may not be able to join. While marijuana use and alcohol abuse is often bypassed via a waiver, a history harder drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, or heroine is usually an unchangeable disqualifying factor.

Enlisting in the military requires that you do your homework to determine if you’re eligible or not as it pertains to medical and legal requirements. No matter what, always discuss any items with your recruiter and avoid concealing anything.