Answers to DoDMERB questions from the Deputy Director


10-Year Member
May 31, 2008
:thumb:If you have any questions regarding DoDMERB about policies, procedures, your specific case (I will have to verify who you are), or anything else, I am the DoDMERB official to provide you a response. I'm always available and in most cases, will respond immediately, but will respond within 24 hours on all cases.

Due to access issues while at work, I may not be able to view this website more than once a day (but I'll work on getting access). But, my email address is ALWAYS open. I'm the DoDMERB Bureaucrat Buster. Give me a chance:)

Larry Mullen
Deputy Director, Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DoDMERB)
8034 Edgerton Drive, Suite 132
USAFA, CO 80840-2200
Hi Larry-

I can personally attest to fact that this guy means what he says :smile:

We are one of those that he has helped out and gotten back to asap.

Welcome to the forum. D hasn't heard from admissions and will call them on Monday just so you know.

Kgrmom (Paulette)
Understand. And in fact, CT will prob be in route to Bos to attend the workshop with me. But, I'll ask her if I don't hear from you guys first. Have a great weekend:thumb:
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Enjoy your workshop- We are going to enjoy our Ds last regatta on the Erie Canal :smile:

Thank you - I understood that message completely. That scares me. :eek:

Understand. And in fact, CT will prob be in route to Bos to attend the workshop with me. But, I'll ask her if I don't hear from you guys first. Have a great weekend:thumb:
Welcome, MullenLE! Your support will be most apprecitated by all here.

My son is at West Point (2011) and navigated the DodMerb "maze" by following the DodMerb instructions and calling a few times. Your group always gave friendly and helpful advice but I would have appreciated the ease of access to DoDMERB help from a site like this one.

Thanks for joining us!
Thanks:) I personally appreciate your input. We all grow and learn and here we are now:)

We are also going through a website/buisness process redesign @ DoDMERB that will allow easier navigation through the "maze." We want to make this process, in the mandate from the Director, as seamless, tranparent, and as frictionless as possible. Input like yours, only helps to reinforce that goal. Thank you again:)
I just want to let everyone know that, in addition to MullenLE (Welcome!), we will still have our very own RetNavyHM around to continue offering all the help and advice he has become so well-known for here.

Looking forward to sage advice from TWO experts! :thumb:
Thanks. As the DoDMERB Deputy Director since Sep 92, I look forward to assisting folks with the process, standards, etc. Thx again:thumb:
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And we sincerely look forward to the help. :smile:

In fact, I'm going to take this opportunity to start a thread on a topic that has bugged me since, well, 1985. :biggrin:

The thread has also bugged many of us. We've been trying to 1) Track it down and 2) Vewrfiy them to todays flight requirements OR change them to meet current requirements.
Tremendously Impressed

Larry Mullen contacted me by phone from Boston, within seconds of my email to him with a cry of "Help"...........and this was all late tonight........He had useful info in hand and was very willing to help my son with a DoDMERB/USNA admissions problem..........a big THANKYOU to Larry for your outstanding assistance and degree of concern .

Although we surived a DQ for vision...we made it through the appeal process and will be there for I Day. DODMERB served us well but the one step questions to ask here may be very helpful for those coming on board.
A move in the right direction...good luck to all.
Agree. Thx. We'll do our best to support folks:smile:
I have a couple of questions for Mr Mullen -

My daughter went through the DoDMERB process in 2006-2007. It was a daunting experience. Thankfully for the good advice of RetNavyHM she received a medical waiver to both USMA and AROTC.

A couple of things I have wondered about:
1. What is the volume of physicals that DoDMERB sees in a given year - is the overall trend up, down or stable?
2. Of all the physicals that DoDMERB sees, can you approximately break down the number that are qualified, need remedials, are DQ and of those DQ's eventually given waivers?
3. Is there a trend - either in increasing or decreasing numbers of candidates who are DQ'd?

From my own experience, my daughter nearly did not even apply. Many people told her- incorrectly obviously - that she would be DQ'd and not get a waiver (the services don't waiver asthma) or just that she would be DQ'd and that would be the end of the road.
I have read countless stories on other forums of candidates who just could not get past the process.
I just spoke with a young man a couple of weeks ago, he was DQ'd for being overweight. Here was this very nice looking young man who obviously was very fit and trim - my eyes bugged out and he went on to explain that the physician at his dodmerb physical wrote down his height wrong. He wrote 62" instead of 6'2"!
Even after sending in physicals from his own doctor and a photo of himself he was denied an appointment because of this snafu and had to wait another year.

I know my child could never have navigated the DoDMERB maze by herself and I am not sure I could have done it with out advice support and encouragement.
What can DoDMERB do to make sure all of our kids are getting a fair shot?
I just gave a lengthy reply, but must have been timed out when I hit SUBMIT. I'm running to catch a plane back from DC to Colorado and will return to the site late tonight. If the reply didn't take, I will send it again tonight. Thx for the opportunity to answer your questions:smile:
I’m glad your daughter received her waivers

1. The volume of exams requested runs between 28-35K per year. These exams equate to an applicant (person). I state that, because many applicants submit applications to multiple programs (Service Academies and/or ROTC). The number of applications runs up to approximately 60K per year. So an applicant that applies like your daughter to USMA and AROTC, has submitted two applications, but only undergoes the one exam.

2. Approximately 85-88% of the applicants get qualified, while the others are disqualified (do not meet standards). Of that remaining group, only 3-4% do not get waived. There’s a delta in there, because not everyone pursues a waiver. These applicants have many opportunities. Their decision not to pursue a waiver often reflects the fact they have received other offers and chose not to pursue. Your daughter was NOT required to submit anything for USMA to consider her for a waiver, but was required to submit a letter requesting a medical waiver for AROTC. For this next class, all of the programs will automatically review applicants who did not meet medical standards. Again, there is not a direct correlation to those that receive a waiver and those that go to that program….again, your daughter. She is going to one or the other of the two programs and could have just as well decided to go to a civilian school, but pursued these options to broaden her opportunities.

Remedials are too complex to discuss here at length. There are two types: Administrative and medical. Administrative can run the gamut from failing to sign the form TO asking the applicant to complete a focused questionnaire TO a request for medical records. Medical can also run the gamut form a repeat blood pressure test TO an orthopedic evaluation TO a cardiology consult with an echocardiogram. Remedials are determined on an individual basis and are not definitively reflective of the system being wrong; the applicant not doing something correctly; or an exam of poor quality. There are a myriad of reasons on why DoDMERB orders remedials.

3. In overall DQs (failing to meet standards), no, there are no gross trends.

Your next area leads to why we’re trying to help. It’s a daunting task at best, but we’re trying to explore as many venues as possible to assist applicants. We are pressing ahead full bore with a replacement Information Technology initiative that will further the assistance effort tremendously. The Director, DoDMERB is committed and dedicated to the goal of a seamless, transparent, and frictionless system. The staff fully supports that goal. But it’s one that is not achieved over night.

Sometimes applicant stories need a dose of Paul Harvey….and now, the Rest of the Story. I can tell you categorically, that the example you cited has additional information in it which would lead to a different outcome. Face it, each and every one of us and every organization, military and civilian make mistakes. It’s highly possible that someone could record and/or read the results of a height measurement incorrectly. But with the submission of timely, accurate, and supporting data, correcting that mistake would have been exceptionally easy.

So, in sum, DoDMERB is doing everything we can to help applicants through the system. We look at every case with the full intent to qualify an applicant. Our Docs are very flexible to allow applicants to be successful. That said, we also must ensure we don’t take anyone in that fail to meet standards. ( DoDMERB is responsible for implementing DoD policy.

“It is DoD policy:

3.3. To ensure that individuals under consideration for appointment, enlistment, or induction into the United States Armed Forces are, as follows: 3.3.1. Free of contagious diseases that probably will endanger the health of other personnel.
3.3.2. Free of medical conditions or physical defects that may require excessive time lost from duty for necessary treatment or hospitalization or probably will result in separation from the Service for medical unfitness.
3.3.3. Medically capable of satisfactorily completing required training.
3.3.4. Medically adaptable to the military environment without the necessity of geographical area limitations.
3.3.5. Medically capable of performing duties without aggravation of existing physical defects or medical conditions.”

Hopefully, that gives you and the other readers a more informed perspective on what we do and why we do it. Thx for the opportunity:)
Thank you for your in-depth and informative reply.

I had no idea how many kids went through DoDMERB each year. I think that's amazing that 85-88% get qualified just knowing how little it takes to become disqualified!

I think it's great that all programs are on board to automatically request a waiver! That should make it easier for kids who are applying to multiple programs.

About remedials - my daughter had a couple for things other than the condition that she was dq'd for. Even though we expected the DQ we were not expecting the questionnaires and it was a little difficult to try to figure out why and what it all meant. For instance she had had a slight concussion a few years ago - getting the head injury questionnaire we were nervous - afterward, I could see that you folks were just trying to get to the bottom of what happened - how severe and how often.

I apologize for putting you on the spot with an anecdotal incident - that was uncalled for. I was just trying to illustrate the frustration that can occur.

Other questions I have - Can you address when the different Dodmerb programs put kids into the Dodmerb system. For instance, I have been told that AROTC submits names immediately after the application is started while NROTC waits until a scholarship has been awarded.
I am also wondering if all programs use the same criteria as to when to seek a waiver. I have heard that some kids get "conditional" appointments - that is an appointment pending a waiver, but I don't know if this happens with all academies.

So, in sum, DoDMERB is doing everything we can to help applicants through the system.
This indeed was our experience with Dodmerb. My daughter had her physical in Mid- October, received one waiver in March and the other the end of April. When we had to "push" Cadet command, my contact with Dodmerb was very efficient and helpful.
You are entirely welcome

You are correct, DoDMERB utilizes questionnaires for two reasons…To gain the required information necessary to render a decision AND to reduce the hassle to the applicant (your daughters case – if the questionnaire would provide what we require, why not use that instead of requiring a neurology consult?)

Specific questions regarding when Service Academies and ROTC programs submit applicants to DoDMERB for medical exam scheduling should be directed to those programs for the highest degree of accuracy.

These are the general guidelines that apply. Service Academies review pre-candidate questionnaires. If they determine the applicant merits a full application, they send the applicant the full application AND notify DoDMERB to schedule a medical exam. Again, regardless of how many and when an applicant applies to a program(s), one DoDMERB exam is used for all programs applied to, within 2 years from the date of the exam (the validity period is two years from the date of the exam, before an applicant would be required to obtain a new exam).

(The guidelines below may be adjusted to fit the recruiting needs of the Service. AROTC is in the process of adjusting their process at this time. More detailed guidance should be directed to US Army cadet Command. ) ROTC programs (high school applicants) “usually” submit the names to DoDMERB for scheduling after it’s been determined the applicant will be awarded a scholarship…contingent upon medical qualification or medical waiver. ROTC programs (on campus applicants) are capable of directing a medical exam be obtained after the Commander of the respective ROTC Detachment/Battalion has determined the applicant meets the criteria for that particular ROTC program and wants the applicant to join that ROTC unit.

Finally, a medical waiver is only required when an applicant has not met the medical accession standards. “Conditional appointments” are used by the Service Academies as just that; they are conditional. The conditions are specified by the Academy as they apply to that specific applicant. When it applies to medical, it “usually” refers to the applicant receiving a unconditional appointment when and if they meet medical accession standards or receive a medical waiver.

In summary, while I stepped a little outside my lane or authority, I take your questions at face value as just wanting to know the overall picture. It is with that spirit that I have answered you. I have attempted to balance the complete response without passing the buck bureaucratically, but may have strayed outside total accuracy regarding how specific Service Academies and ROTC programs operate. That said, DoDMERB is charged specifically with responding to the Service Academies and ROTC programs medical qualification determinations. We schedule, evaluate, and render a decision on whether or not an applicant meets/does not meet medical accession standards.

Hopefully, this has helped you and the other forum participants gain additional insight.
I take your questions at face value as just wanting to know the overall picture. It is with that spirit that I have answered you.

I understand that and appreciate your candor. Many thanks.