DQ'ed Misc. Orthopedic/Spinal Condition


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Aug 8, 2008
Hello. I am new to the forums except I seem to be having a very common problem. I was disqualified for having congenital scoliosis. Now I understand this is a very serious condition from which I have been treated for since I was an infant, however, it has never dissabled me in any way. I work on the truck team at Kohl's Department Store frequently lifting 100 lbs boxes. I am a volunteer fireman for the city of Gibraltar which requires me to climb a 75' ladder as well as wear the required equipment which includes full bunker gear and an SCBA (with steel tanks, I wish we had carbon) on my back. I lift weights and I can easily deadlift my own body weight. I also have letters from my store manager and the fire chief stating that my condition has never interfered with any of the expected tasks.
Technically I believe I fall well below the qualifications for a spinal deformity which is 30 degrees thoracic. Most of my scoliosis is in my thoracic vertebrae and my spine only has an 18 degree curvature. In my lumbar column I have almost no curvature. The only curvature resides in my L4 and L5 and its only a 6 degree curve. Army qualification standards state that anything up to 20 degrees is qualifiable.
My medical records which were sent to DODMERB stated that this condition has never interfered my my athletic abilities in any way. I have never worn a brace. I have never had surgery. My orthopedic doctor stated that my condition was purely cosmetic.
Now I can not possibly understand what goes into a DODMERB medical review and I am sure that it is a lot more complicated than what I think it is. It seems to me, however, that I was DQ'ed solely on the fact that I have scoliosis and not the severity of my condition or how it affects me in day to day life. I do not mean to sound condescending to anyone who happens to read this. My intentions are as professional as I can make them. I have already lost my room mate over this situation and we have 4 weeks until school starts up. I had my exam the 12th of June so I have been at this for a while.
Mainly what I would like to know is how can I make it clear to whom ever is going to be reviewing my records for waiver that this condition has never affected my ability to perform any task that I must perform as a fireman or any task I have ever been asked to complete? What would be the quickest way to go about this? Has anyone had a similar experience? And, can anyone read this do anything to help me directly?
Again, I do not mean to come to these forums and demand answers as to why I have been DQ'ed. I'm simply another frustrated ROTC applicant who has been disqualified for conditions they are not affected by. Thanks for your time for anyone who reads this. I would be happy to supply any additional info on my condition of status.
-Signed, AROTC Applicant
Dear Tboy,

No offense taken, nor do I perceive it as condescending. I understand your frustration. It is 2:20 AM as I write this from a hotel room in Newport News VA, so I can ASSURE you, I take your concerns VERY seriously. Sooooo, as we tried to do this through private email, I’ll expand on what was already provided you below. In that your privacy is protected via this forum and you are asking the questions, there is NO violation of rights contained herein.

8/6/2008 8:54:16 AM General

Congenital scoliosis documented in medical records from 19 months through 15 years. Needs waiver review.
Applicant is active in softball and is a volunteer fireman.
D228.00 - Miscellaneous orthopedic/spinal condition Complex congenital scoliosis with multiple rib and vertebral body anomalies of upper thoracic spine and L4, L5

Your ability to function at a high level, was NOT dismissed. Matter of fact, as shown above and provided to you, it was strongly considered and noted. It was the “condition” that did not meet medical accession standards; NOT your inability to function. In essence, we’d be derelict in our duties, if we did NOT notify the Army ROTC Command Surgeon of the significance of your “condition” so he could perform the risk analysis as to whether you would be successful to train, commission, and be world-wide deployable. All the factors you described below are in your favor and WILL definitely be considered during the medical waiver process. The Command Surgeon will make one of three decisions and will notify you of his decision: granted, denied, or he’ll ask for additional test(s), consult(s), and/or information PRIOR to rendering his decision.

So in sum, while I understand your frustration, pls don’t think we were dismissive or batch processing bureaucrats. From the enlisted Reviewer that performed the initial review and responded to you and me while I’m traveling (to expedite your response), to the Doc who takes each and every case for review as though it were her own son or daughter, to me who’s responding to you in the middle of the night, we are giving you our 101% very best efforts. Ensure you follow the waiver instruction for AROTC in the letter you receive. I will also have the Sergeant email you privately with those instructions to ensure your opportunities remain the highest priority. Understand also, that the AROTC Command Surgeon will be on well-well-well deserved leave for the next 10 days, so the decision won’t be instantaneous. Thx for the opportunity to assist you through the process.:thumb:


Thanks for all your help on this forum. You have made much easier what I know is a complex and frustrating process for so many applicants. Even so, you've really gone beyond the call of duty on this one. :thumb:
TBoy -

I understand your frustration - Do I understand correctly that if you don't get qualified then you may not be able to start school? This indeed puts you in a position of not wondering what your future holds.

Larry's explanation demonstrates that all DQ's are not created equal. When Larry says the waiver authorities will consider your statements concerning your physical abilities - believe him. You have a DQ now but there may be a waiver waiting right around the corner as the waiver authority takes into consideration your medical history.

No way am do I want to sound like I am disrespecting the waiver authorities or those at Dodmerb - they have a huge job, many cases and many medical records to wade through.
There are times to sit and wait - and times to get busy.
What I have heard over and over is not knowing WHO to call and HOW to get someone to help you. Your situation - at being DQ's for a condition that does not trouble you and the delay in getting a medical waiver - is not common at all.
It is good that you have found Larry and he can help you - I know this isn't much consolation to you but there are plenty of other candidates who have hit the Dobmerb/Waiver "brick wall". My own daughter hit a brick wall with Cadet Command - it was very frustrating but we worked through it. Hopefully you can work through it as well.

I hope this issue is resolved soon for you and you can be sure your tuition will be paid and you can start school.
Best Wishes in school and thanks for willing to become a Army Officer.

My son went through a waiver process for a "history of a spinal condition." With letters from the doctor (stating that he was fit for military duty), coaches, and a personal statement how this condition does not effect his life in any way, he received a waiver.

It is anxious period, going through the process; but, be persistent and calmly present your argument.

Good luck!
:biggrin: This is exactly why I decided to post on these forums. The support and feedback you receive is second to NONE. With that being said. Theoretically I will have 2 weeks for my file to get reviewed and have a decision made on it. This is a little frightening but as you all have said it is beyond me at this point as it has been for quite some time now. I thank Mr. Mullen for his diligence in this matter and I look forward to any communication we may have in the future.

This does in fact put me in a situation where if I do not receive a waiver by Aug. 29th (or a disqualification) I can not go to school in the fall and I lose my insurance and all of that good stuff that goes along with being a moocher off my parents.

Mr. Mullen words can not describe how much I appreciate your post this morning. It seems as though I emailed you one day and the next my file was reviewed. For this I am truly grateful. My frustration stems from the fact that I may lose all my benefits as well as puts a hold on my potential admission to nursing school. As you have stated, you can understand why I am so persistent at getting this done in the most timely fashion that I can manage.

Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement. Since I was a little boy I have been drawing pictures of what I thought the US Army was and I have always wanted to be a soldier. I hope this matter is resolved quickly enough to start my journey. Thanks everyone.
Aww - I feel badly for you and can hear the desperation.
I sent you a PM....
Let me tell you this fact: The Command Surgeon has stated as recently as yesterday at 10 AM EDT, that between what DoDMERB determines MEETS medical standards, combined with what he has currently waived, only 3% of the folks that apply to Army ROTC do not get in becasue of medically related issues. Granted, if you are in that 3%, there's no consolation; but there are not many other things you can point to in life where you have a 97% chance of success.

While I appreciate all the personal accolades, I must also infuse this into the discussion. I find the words "brick wall" not helpful. On of the reasons I come onto this site every single night and several times on the weekend (a few months ago) is to have "implode" that perception. I am the Bureaucratic Buster at DoDMERB. More specifically, the Director of DoDMERB has the same passion for doing what we're doing here. It was his idea:smile: The entrie staff at DoDMERB supports this initative and as many of you have seen, while I'm traveling, I electronically communicate with folks back at the office to keep things moving. Soooooo, when the top two guys supply this relentless dedication to helping folks, the only brick wall that remains is the one established by the folks that don't try and help themselves.

One other issue. The Cadet Command Surgeon started leave today for the first time in one year longer than 72 hours. He will be gone, deservedly so, for 10 days. So, if there are outstanding issues that require resolution, I submit that TBoy deal directly with me at my email address. That, is where I have access 24/7/365.
Please do not be offended by my use of the term "brick wall" - for many applicants including Tboy this is surely what they are up against. I do not mean any disrespect to you or Dodmerb by using this term.

Surely you can see that Tboy - through no fault of his own is without an answer and may not be able to attend school because of this. I am not "blaming" any one here. It is what it is but frustrating and agonizing nontheless.

My own daughter was in a similar situation 18 months ago with Cadet Command and honestly she NEVER would have been able to navigate this maze by herself. It took a lot of phone calls for me back and forth between her Battalion recruiter and the fine folks at Dodmerb to get her file looked at and this was two months after her remedial testing was completed. I won't go into the gory details here but suffice it to say that once it was looked at she had her waiver in 24 hours.

Larry, thank goodness you are here and Tboy found you. He might have a chance. Without you intervening, I fear his chance to start school would be slim to none. Even with you promising to help - it looks slim.

One more thing - many kids in Army ROTC would be in college anyway. Their scholarship keep mom and dad happy and fluffs up financial aid. In these cases they may start school and resolve these issues in the fall. As long as they are resolved before the end of the first semester then Cadet Command will kick in the scholarship - if the issues are not resolved they lose the scholarship and move on with their life.
There are some kids who simply cannot matriculate without the scholarship in place - they have no other way to pay. Tboy appears to be one of these kids.
While everyone understands that the Cadet Command Surgeon is on a much needed 10 day leave this does not negate the fact that because of his 10 day leave Tboy may not be able to start school.
How can you NOT see this as a brick wall? Tboy, deserves an answer. It would be a shame for him to be sitting home in early September and get a congratulatory letter from Dodmerb noting his waiver had been approved.

All your inside help is appreciated here - you certainly do good work.
Let me be crystal clear in a very positive way. This is not defensive in nature; it is to provide greater clarity. As I just told TBoy offline, the Forum served its purpose. He got his point across to the Forum audience and I definitely got my point across. The Forum system works I understand unequivocally applicants who express “frustration” with the system…any system…The Director, DoDMERB understood the general nature of some of the Forum folks too; hence, that is why he put me here. His motto for DoDMERB is to make our system as “Seamless, Frictionless, and Transparent” as possible. Our Director of Operations also coined a motto we express extensively, “Leave no applicant behind.”

I've only been on the Forum for a few months, but I’m here nonetheless and we’re making a difference. I will also tell you that I have received triple the number of inquiries from people who visit the Forum; do not want to post for their own reasons; but have benefitted from the Forum being there and my information being out there. That said, we are employing the same approach for ALL our applicants, Forum connected or not.

The one other issue that is very relevant, is in-college ROTC applicants have a Commander. In those cases the Commander is the only one that has the authority to request the waiver. That decision is based on a number of reasons, not just medical. I will be in contact with the Commander this weekend. Rest assured if the Commander wants the case reviewed, it will be reviewed. If that’s the case, I will communicate the urgency to the Surgeon’s lead staff, so it will be reviewed upon his return.

Finally, in general, there are timelines involved in all cases. Time when DoDMERB/the waiver authorities in those cases when warranted and time when applicants must accomplish things. Often times, applicants are stymied by access issues….getting into a specialist or sub-specialists office is not an easy task indeed. It may take in excess of 30 days. Also, applicants are asked for copies of records or questionnaires from time to time. There may be significant delays in the applicants obtaining this information. Often times, because it’s difficult and “frustrating” in penetrating those systems and often times because the applicant urgency index may not be what it is later on down the road. DoDMERB is extremely sensitive to applicant issues and we handle each case as if it were our very own. Again, I thank you all for the opportunity to assist and we’ll continue to do the best job possible:thumb: