DODMERB Question


Jun 15, 2006
RetNavyHM, Welcome aboard. You will be an invaluable asset to this forum. Please allow me to start off. From the day of the physical, how long does it take DodMERB to process the package, assuming that the candidate crossed all the "t"s and dotted all the "i"s and there are no follow-ups required? When does the annual back-up usually start? Are follow-up responses processed quicker than the initial package or do they go to the bottom of the pile? How does the dreaded motion sickness question read on the form? As a BGO, should I inform candidates that anyone who reads a book in the back of a car while travelling on a mountain road deserves to get sick? This question has caused follow-ups to several of my candidates but they have eventually passed (after waiting 5+ weeks in May to get the results). Thanks for your help and again, welcome aboard.
There are 2 ways an applicant can get his/her physical examination done. One is to go to a military treatment facility (MTF), the other is to go through DoDMERB's physical exam contractor. Given a choice, I always recomended going through the contractor. The contractor must fill out all the appropriate blocks or they don't get paid, with the MTF's it all depends on how experienced the examiner is.

The contractor has 30 days from the date of the last exam (the vision and medical are usually done seperately) to get the physical examination to DoDMERB. The MTF's have 10 working days to get the examination to DoDMERB (not always the case and not much that DoDMERB can do except complain to the command). Once the physical examination gets to DoDMERB it can take up to 3 days for the physical examination to be processed prior to getting to the reviewers. The reviewers have 15 days to process the physical (usually done in less than a week though), and if it needs to go to a physician for review it can take a little longer.

If a remedial is needed (extra information or tests) a letter is sent to the applicant and the information is also posted on the DoDMERB applicant website ( Once a remedial is received at DoDMERB (faxes are normally not accepted), the reviewers have another 15 days to process. Again, it can take longer if the information needs to be sent to a physician. Most times it takes about a week.

The reviewers try to split thier time, most will spend half the day working new cases, and half the day working remedials. Obviously it depends on the workload and what is waiting for them to process.

As for the motion sickness, the majority of the questionnaires are cleared with no problem. I have always told applicants and parents that its best to be honest, but then there is always room for a little common sense as well. If an applicant got sick once on a carnival ride, or sick once while deep sea fishing in 20 foot seas, does that need to be reported? Maybe not, but if an applicant has to sit in the front seat of a car to avoid getting sick, or gets sick everytime they are on an airplane, or takes medication before taking a long trip in a car/boat/plane then I would say it definately needs to be reported.

Later this AM I will post my bio as well as the inner workings of DoDMERB. I think that it will definately help, and let everyone see just what goes on at the mysterious and evil DoDMERB! :shake:
Many years ago I was out on my boat sailing with an Academy classmate of mine and our two sons. My friend's son, aged 10, ask his dad if he would get seasick. While they were discussing this, my son, aged 6, stated that he had been sailing "his whole life" and had never been seasick. An hour or so later, after their spending most of their time below decks eating jello squares, the scuppers were running red with jello from both of them. The friend's son, of course mentioned it to DodMERB as did my son. I think it is the only time my friend's son, USNA '94, or my son, USNA '98 have ever been seasick but they both had to sweat out the DodMERB 15+ days. I've had a candidate also in each of the last two years to have to submit remedials on this issue. I dare not, though tempted, brief candidates on how to respond to this question.
My understanding was that USNA was now only using civilian contractors for Academy physicals -- IOW, you no longer could get them done at military medical centers. Have you heard that this has changed yet again?
Do they still set up the physicals like they had them in my day (1985/6)?

I spent an entire day running around the island of Manhattan going from the ear doctor to the eye doctor to the internal doctor to the other doctor to the glass doctor, with my poor mother in tow... OY! :confused1: :screwy:
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DoDMERB is pushing the contractor option, but the MTF option is still open and will always be open. There are those out there who feel that the MTF will do a better job of getting the physical exam completed or would just rather the MTF do it as that is what they are comfortable with. As well as those applicants who live closer to an MTF than a contract facility and those who reside overseas.

In my experience with DoDMERB, as more and more applicants are getting their exams done with the contractor there are less errors and it has decreased the chasing of remedials for information that should have been on the physical examination to begin with.

As this is a physical exam for entrance into a program leading to a commission DoDMERB will never get rid of the MTF option, but as MTF's do fewer and fewer DoDMERB physicals the knowledge base of the examiners will decrease as well and the quality of work will be poorer.

As much as it pains me to say to applicants and parents, I would push the contractor option for getting the physical exam done rather than the MTF.

I have never told an applicant what to put down on a form. If they have questions I'd ask them specific questions. An example:

An applicant asks about the hay fever/allergy question. Applicant states my eyes water and I sneeze a lot in the spring. My response, have you ever been to a doctor for it or taken any medication? If the applicant responded yes to either of those, my question then is, do you have allergies or hay fever? If the applicant responded no to the doctor/medication questions I would ask the applicant, do you think you have allergies or hay fever? What ever the applicant states I would say, there is your answer for the question.

It can be tough as a BGO as well as for DoDMERB to try and answer those questions. You don't want to be seen as coaching, yet you want to help. The way I've described above is the best way I've found to help the applicants/parents in filling out the medical history questionnaire.


Every facility is different, the contractors do everything except the eyes in one spot, the vision exam is usually a different appointment. The physical examination has changed a bit as well, not quite as complicated.
Ret NavyHM, I would never coach a candidate on what to put down on a form. My question above was probably ill-worded and glib. I was just presenting a common situation down here in the mountains of NC. However, like you said, the majority of the remedials come back OK. It seems like a lot of anxiety for no reason, and believe me, I can speak from first hand knowledge that it is anxiety. I know you are on the outside now, but it almost seems like they would change the wording of the question to a more realistic one that would truly detect a problem. Again, welcome aboard.

The way the medical history questionnaire is worded is a little vauge, "do you have now, or have you ever had..", but when you are put into a position where you never put hands on the patient, and yet you have to say "this applicant will have no problems" which is where DoDMERB is, ypu have to make sure the "i" are dotted and the "t"'s are crossed, checked and double checked. When an applicant has problems during the inprocessing phase (plebe summer, doolie fun camp, ect) or, as has happend in the past, dies from an undisclosed or unknown medical issue, the first place people look is to DoDMERB. So there are items that are automatically chased, an applicant checks yes to motion sickness, allergies, headaches, asthma, ect. there is an automatic response from DoDMERB. History has shown that there may be issues that the applicant does not fully explain on the medical history form.

I hope this is a better explanation than before.