Asthma waiver?


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Feb 28, 2008
My son received a congressional nomination to USMA and a subsequent letter from USMA that stated that the review board found him "academically and physically competitive", but that his medical status was "undetermined".

Four days ago he received a letter from DodMERB that "Disqualified" him for "Asthma" after the age of 13. A general physican my wife takes my kids to determined (and wrote his medical records), a diagnosis of Asthma. My son does not use an inhaler or medicines of any kind and he has not been hampered as a result in varsity sports (he was a little short of breath one time when he first started swimming the 500m freestyle, but just about anyone would be).

I called DodMERB (twice) and USMA (once) to ask advice on how to request a waiver for this (since I know from reading on this website that it is possible). Neither were particularly helpful.

Even more confusing was the USMA representative's response that "no waiver would be requested"? The DodMERB's letter and website both state that waiver requests are automatic for USMA applicants.

Taking matters into our own hands we contacted a Pulminary specialist in our area and my son will see him in three weeks (earliest we could get in). If the initial tests do not disprove the diagnosis, we have further requested that he be given the Methacholine challenge test. We do not know what else to do or where to go for advice. Any help would be appreciated.

I have also posted this response on the DodMERB forum.
My situation was exactly the same (double qualified swimmer disqualified for asthma even though I wasn't on meds). USMA does automatically request a waiver. Since he was disqualified that means you most of already sent his birth to present records. At this point in the process for me USMA ended up requesting a remedial (a methacoline challenge test). After the test I was granted a waiver. USMA seems to like this new test, but if not done throught Concorde it can be expensive.

Hang in there, and best of luck!
kaiserm715 - I am sure RetNavyHM will be along soon and give you some good advice over on the DODMERB forum.

I don't know why they told you a waiver would not be requested because it is my understanding they are automatically reviewed for a waiver if otherwise qualified for admission. I think the person who told you this made a mistake or misunderstood what you were asking.

Good luck and let us know what happens.
The following post was moved to combine two threads of the same title and question. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

By live4ever -
My daughter went through the same thing, but with AROTC. Unlike with ROTC you do not have to send USMA a waiver request, I believe they automatically review the Dodmerb file and will probably request remedials such as a pulmonary function test and or a Methacholine challenge test. No big deal, if your son does not have any trace of asthma the waiver is usually granted. My daughter did not initiate anything, though, she waited for Dodmerb to send the remedial requests and then we took her to the facility to do the PFT. There is an expert on this site who can give you expert advice, I am just sharing my experience with you.
I can tell you the process my daughter has been through for USNA. Their waiver process begins automatically after a DQ. I've included timelines to help show the wait periods:

-Sent in initial medical exam last August. DQ due to asthma past 13th birthday in October.
-Remedial was to answer questionnaire and send all medical records from birth
-DQ remained after review of medical/hospital records.
-Remedial was to have pulmonary function test (PFT) (remedial requested mid-December, results sent to DoDMERB early January (she passed, completely normal)
-Remedial info made available to waiver authorities 3 Feb
-NROTC accessed info 11 Feb, granted waiver 28 Feb

We haven't heard about waiver for USNA yet, but we're assuming that there's a very high probability that waiver will be granted, too.

Hope this helps.
My son's situation was almost exactly as you describe. He was short of breath after swimming a 500 yd freestyle in a poorly ventilated indoor rec pool. Mentioned it next time at dr. and got the asthma diagnosis and inhaler. Son never used the inhaler (fortunately).

He wrote a letter explaining his history with asthma (was diagnosed as a child, but nothing after age 5). In addition, I had the pediatrician write a letter in which he said my son was asymptomatic with regards to waiver.

Waiver received, appointment received, and now he's waiting for June 30!

Good luck with this. The wait can seem unbearable.
Taking matters into our own hands we contacted a Pulminary specialist in our area and my son will see him in three weeks (earliest we could get in). If the initial tests do not disprove the diagnosis, we have further requested that he be given the Methacholine challenge test.

Having your son evaluated by a pulmonolgist is your choice, as well as if you have a methacholine challenge test (MCCT) done. I would advise your son to write a letter to the waiver authorities (sent to DoDMERB who will forward to the waiver authorities) explaining his history of asthma/reactive airway disease, as well as what activities he currently participates in and how the asthma/reactive airway disease affects him, if at all. Just my observations from being at DoDMERB, the letters from the applicants can carry a lot of weight. DoDMERB and the waiver authorities review medical records and physician statements all day, every day. They do not always convey everything that DoDMERB and the waiver authorities are looking for. Getting the applicants statement can be the difference. If it was my choice I would hold off on the specialty evaluation until requested to get an evaluation or testing by the waiver authorities. The benefit of that is the government will pay for the evaluation.

USMA admissions will tell the waiver authorities which applicants to review, The applicants do not have to do anything. Admissions will normally only forward the names of applicants that they feel are competitive for an appointment. Your quote for the USMA representative worries me for the above reason. I would have your son contact his admissions officer and ask when they asked the waiver authority to review his file.

Thank you for your advice. I will encourage my son to send in a response to DodMERB as soon as possible.

I will contact USMA tomorrow to find out whether or not USMA will request a waiver. If not, is there any benefit to him requesting a waiver on his own? If not, I do not want him to waste his effort on a lost cause.
He can request a waiver, but it is up to the admissions office to let the waiver authorities know who to look at. They are only going to forward to the waiver authorities the names of those applicants that admissions believes they are going to offer an appointment to.
Do you know what the waiver authorities look for? For example, I took the Methacholine Challenge Test and decreased by16% ( I did not exceed the 20% line that indicates ashtma). Will that be an automatic waiver, or is there a possiblity I could still be disqualified? Are the USMA waiver authorities pass or fail?
My main concern was that I was diagnosed with mild asthma and prescribed an inhaler in November. Obviously the PFT/MCT showed that that was a misdiagnosis, but still.
Usually, not always, but usually, if you are below 20% they will grant the waiver. There are no hard and fast rules with the waiver authorities. They review all the information before them before they make their decision, and every applicant has a different medical history.
Partial good news today regarding DodMERB's DQ of my son for "Asthma after age of 13".

1) My son went to a Pulmonologist today for testing to confirm/deny whether he has Asthma. We explained the situation to the Pulmologist and asked him to confirm or refute the diagnosis through further testing. Using advice from some of the responses on this forum to my previous messages, we suggested to the Pulmonologist that DodMERB would likely need "a baseline Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) including the values for FVC, FEV1, MEFR 25-75%, and lung volumes". After the testing and reviewing the results, the Pulmonologist told my wife that he was quite surprised at our "general practitioner's" earlier diagnosis of Asthma (which triggered the DQ by DodMERB)(diagnosis was by the same general practitioner who also diagnosed my son with hypertension - which was later refuted by a Cardiologist after extensive, and ultimately needless, testing). Nevertheless, due to limited family history of Asthma, to completely rule out any problems the Pulmunologist has set up a methacholine challenge test for my son in two weeks (given in a hospital).

2) When my wife & son arrived home a letter from WP was waiting. It stated that WP "IS REQUESTING A WAIVER" for the DodMERB's DQ of my son. Quite a pleasant turn of events.

We are not quite sure how things will progress from here, but his Methacholine test will be in two weeks. We will forward all the documentation to DodMERB soon thereafter. Even if he does pass the methacholine test, we know there is no guarantee that WP will extend an appointment.

Thank you all your helpful advice and understanding. At least things are moving back in the right direction. Maybe there will be light at the end of the tunnel?

So, the pulmnologist who tested me cleared me of all asthma, abnormalties, etc will that be strong for the waiver authorities? My concern, however, is that I have had my share of respatory infections and things of that sort in my past ( i live in MI). Could that hurt?
However, I have never had an "asthma attack"
If this waiver is denied, could I rebut it since it has not affected me especially while playing sports ( I run track in freezing weather and there is no affect on me)

I have an LOA for USMA and the wait is killing me:frown:
Since the waiver authorities requested additional information they were already "on the fence", so having a clear pulmonary test should push them over towards the positive side.
USMA granted the waiver for my asthma!!!!:biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Does that mean I am done with DODMerb for good? (well at least for USMA)

Thanks RetNavy, you've been an awesome source of advice!!!
Once the waiver has been granted, and the DoDMERB web site reflects that the waiver was granted, then you are done. Just make sure there are no new injuries or illnesses between now and R-day!!

Congrats on the waiver!
Asthma Waiver denied

My son received an email from his regional representative at WP today informing him that the doctors at Keller had denied his request for a waiver for asthma due to "a feeling that there was a high risk of continued "reactive airways or Asthma like symptoms".:mad:

We find this result unbelievable since he took the methacholine challenge test and passed it with flying colors (lung capacity never dipped below 93%). His pulmonologist told us his results were excellent. He further detected no significant breathing problems. Yet the army doctors simply repeated the original diagnosis. It is almost as if they did not see or completely ignored the results of MCT test. DodMERB confirms that they sent my son's letter and MCT test results onto the waiver authorities, but have no information about any denial.

We have asked our regional commander at WP to verify that the doctors considered the test results. Unless it turns out there was a screw-up or oversight on the part of the Army doctors, it looks like time has run out on my son's WP aspirations.:frown:

West Point was the only service academy my son was interested in attending.
Asthma Waiver Denied - Travesty!

My son is a candidate for the USMA class of 2012. DodMERB disqualified him medically for "asthma after the age of 13". The diagnosis was erroneously placed in his medical records by an old general practioner who is the only doctor in a walk-in setting in a strip mall. This was but one of two erroneous diagnosis he made on son (other was refuted previously):thumbdown:

In response to the DQ, my son was fully examined by a Pulmonologist (breathing specialist) who gave him a full lung function test (results normal) and who only agreed to further testing due to the medical DQ. Two weeks later he underwent the dreaded methacholine challenge test (an hour of testing in the hospital - cost of $1,500). His lung function never dipped below 93% (80% being the threshold). Son sent to DodMERB a letter explaining the misdiagnosis and the results of the methacholine challenge test and his overall physical condition (including the fact that has had no breathing difficulties). I called DodMERB thereafter and the nice lady I talked to claimed they forwarded the rebuttal materials onto the waiver authorities in early April.

Earlier this week son received an email from his regional commander at USMA. Apparently the doctors at "Keller" (not sure if this is Keller Air Force Base or it it refers to somewhere else) DENIED his waiver request due to "high probability of continued reactive airway breathing problems or asthma".:mad:

We contacted the regional commander at USMA the same day and asked him to verify whether or not the "doctor(s)" evaluated the rebuttal materials in their determination? Two days have passed without a response.:mad: It is hard for us to believe that they rendered this decision with the rebutall materials in front of them.

Today a letter came in the mail from director of admissions at USMA telling son that his medical disqualification is FINAL!:mad:

Son went back to see his Pulmonologist today - and he is appalled! He said that his test results are 98% conclusive that son does not have asthma or any other breathing problem! You cannot get any better evidence than this! Pulmonologist said he is fully qualified for military service. His DQ should be withdrawn - not just waived since there is no evidence he ever had the condition after age 13. I know waivers have been granted this year for others at USMA for asthma with no additional testing.

I can understand this mistake if the doctor(s) did not have the rebuttal information in front of him/them, but if he/they did, such a determination is irresponsible in my opinion. No call to our Pulmonologist, no request for additional information (we offered previously to send full chest x-rays to DodMERB but were told NO, the test results were sufficient), no nothing - just a rubber stamp of the original erroneous diagnosis!

So, you have my son, who wants to serve, but cannot due to a misdiagnosed medical condition by an incompetent non-expert. Expert indicates that not only does he not have a "mild" case of asthma which should be "waived", but that he does not have asthma at all!

The ironic thing is that were the draft still in place, there are those who would pay big money for his disqualification. Son, on the other hand, wants to serve, has no medical problems, but now cannot because he is MEDICALLY DISQUALIFIED!

We called our nominating Congressman's office today after receiving the final medical disqualification and they have agreed to help son to the extent they can in rebutting the disqualification. I am not sure there is anything else we can do at this late time.

Son now, however, is beginning to wonder whether or not it makes sense for him to aspire to a career in an organization where facts and reason do not seem to matter, and no one seems to care. To me, this is the real travesty.:frown: