Is asthma a disqualifier?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Gsverdrup, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. Gsverdrup

    Gsverdrup New Member

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    I just finished my sophomore year of high school and I was just diagnosed with mild exercise-induced asthma. I am a varsity athlete and it hasn’t hindered me noticeably, does this disqualify my application? I was just put on an inhaler today but I function well without it.
     
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    Part of the application process for any officer accession program is going through the medical review portion. You will fill out medical history forms and provide requested docs. DODMERB is the entity that Q’s or DQ’s using the standards at the link below. The SAs may choose to waive some conditions, and the Services have different waiver policies for some conditions, because of different missions and operating environments.

    Recommend reading USNA.edu thoroughly, every web page, link and dropdown. Recommend going to the DODMERB forum here on SAF; read the Stickies at the very top. Lastly, use the Search function. There are dozens of threads on asthma.

    https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodi/613003p.pdf?ver=2018-04-09-114201-123

    https://www.usna.edu/Admissions/_files/documents/MedicalAppendix1.pdf
     
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  3. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    As a general rule, asthma after age 13 is disqualifying and very difficult to waive. However, nothing is impossible and every person/condition is unique. Thus, if USNA is your dream/a strong desire, suggest you pursue it but be realistic.
     
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  4. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    The terrific advice from @Capt MJ and @usna1985 boils down to two things:

    1) Don’t self-diagnose (or guess) when it comes to DODMERB and perceived disqualification. Make sure it’s a physician and DODMERB making the diagnoses and decision, not you based on your understanding of the rules.

    2) Work on a strong and viable Plan B and C and D... This is true whether you have DODMERB concerns or not.
     
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  5. shock-n-awe

    shock-n-awe Member

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    Definitely worth pursuing an appointment if that’s your goal. Let DODMERB tell you no before you DQ yourself, and see what happens.
    Meanwhile, It may help to revisit your Doctor to discuss and reevaluate your condition. Maybe your “official “ diagnosis would be recorded differently if an error in judgment has occurred. I’m not a Doctor, but It is possible that you were misdiagnosed, it happens. With your dream of attending USNA on the line, it’s worth a second look. Or better yet, seek a second opinion.
    Don’t self diagnose, or discontinue using your inhaler if your Doctor feels you need it however.
    Best of luck!
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
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  6. Overwhelmed

    Overwhelmed Member

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    DS was in similar position. He was able to receive an asthma waiver and an USNA appointment. It was very difficult and he was disqualified by many other SAs/ROTCs.
     
  7. Stork103

    Stork103 Member

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    and also, not sure if this is you, but never underestimate the power of being a candidate that USNA needs to meet strategic appointee objectives (e g recruited athlete, prior enlisted, college reapplicant, diversity candidate). Mountains can move if you help them complete their puzzle in some way beyond being generally academically qualified.
     
  8. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    Or brilliant student. Or brilliant leader. The SAs will find a way to appoint those whom they really want.
     
  9. stanfordovaly2k

    stanfordovaly2k Member

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    I was wondering if a SA candidate can get and submit a letter regarding medical conditions from his/her primary doctor during a DoDMERB appointment/meeting.

    If a doctor’s letter says that he/she won’t have any medical issues due to mild asthma, is it acceptable or helpful?

    Or

    A candidate just submits a DoDMERB form and waits for a waiver, tests, or any response?

    What would be the optimal process between a proactive action and a long wait?

    I am sure that OP must keep trying based on other experts’ advice above rather than a self-diagnosis.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  10. Flea

    Flea Member

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    I have been wondering the same thing for awhile and we finally decided to be proactive about it. I have a DD who has not used an inhaler in several years but I would refill it after age 13 as a precaution. She has an appointment next week with a specialist (allergist) who was a physician with USAF. Their practice has been very helpful and they deal with requests from candidates who want to enlist all the time although they told me that my DD is the first request for a SA. They are going to run some basic tests and then maybe a methacholine challenge depending on what the doctor thinks after her appointment. I don't know if we are doing the right thing or not, I have read different opinions on this board. We decided to go with what I think is the best route for her, and if it works in her favor then great, if not, then it wasn't meant to be.
     
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  11. stanfordovaly2k

    stanfordovaly2k Member

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    @Flea

    Wow, you are very proactive on your DD’s asthma issue.
    Please keep us posted. My DS’ situation is very similar to yours, e.g., renewing inhalers several times without using them. My DS got inhalers since Sea Cadet training required a similar document as like DoDMERB. If he/she ever used inhaler, they had to report and bring medicine to training.

    I believe that it’s all about liability issues that can influence DoDMERB and DQ significantly.

    DS’ primary doctor said that no more asthma, i.e., cleared, since it’s more than 2 years without inhalers or minor seasonal allergy/wheezing.

    But as a parent, we still shall face and deal with stringent DoDMERB requirements.

    My DS may see his primary doctor sometime in late July after a USCGA AIM program but we are not sure yet if a proactive action can disturb even more dust.

    OP and we might be in the same dilemma. I will also keep sharing any updates in the future.
     
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  12. Flea

    Flea Member

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    Trust me, I am very concerned that we might end up stirring up some dust! I figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least meet with the physician and ask questions and hopefully walk away with a letter to take to her medical exam. Not sure Dodmerb will accept it but we are willing to try. My DD’s
    Boyfriend will be at AIM at the end of July too.
     
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  13. stanfordovaly2k

    stanfordovaly2k Member

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    Thanks for sharing the info. We are leaning toward taking a proactive action. When my DS saw a primary doctor for an AIM medical form, he explained about DoDMERB. The doctor was willing to write a letter saying that a couple of asthma issues occurred when he was younger had been cleared.

    When he sees the doctor again, she might coordinate a Methacholine challenge test (MCT) or something to prove “No Asthma”. However, some members here advised that MCT is not accurate, either..........ahh...

    I am sure though that this issue won’t stop his willingness to serve this great country!

    I am going to pick up my DS at the NASS session 3 soon. :)
     
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  14. ThePatternisFull

    ThePatternisFull BGO

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    At a WP briefing the Major said be proactive not reactive concerning medical issues.
     
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  15. A6E Dad

    A6E Dad BGO

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    My DS had a DODMERB DQ for asthma, and eventually received a waiver and appointment, but it was a VERY complicated road to go down, and the odds of success are not high.

    Before you send ANY documentation to DODMERB, you need to research and understand the DODMERB standards and ensure that you are not creating problems that could be avoided. Only answer the questions that are asked, do not provide any extra info, and make sure you understand the standards: https://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmotc/nami/arwg/Documents/WaiverGuide/DODI_6130.03_JUL12.pdf

    Getting a letter from a doctor "clearing candidate for military service" is not useful at all. Only the military clears candidates. They are only interested in receiving descriptions of conditions and diagnosis from civilian doctors, then DODMERB and SA make a judgement. So, the important thing to do is to understand the standards, and help the civilian doctor understand the standards, so that the doctor can provide documentation that the candidate does in fact meet the standards - if that is what the facts support.

    If you already have medical records that include a definitive diagnosis of Asthma, after age 13, (mild, exercise induce, or whatever) you will certainly get a DQ. There is no grey area.

    However, you CAN get a waiver, but you need to be proactive. In our DS case, the diagnosis was based on a few episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath during exertion. There are many possible causes, but the doctor put "likely exercise induced asthma" in the record - automatic DW.

    At the time, we knew that would be a DQ, so we took son to a pulmonologyst. He underwent a PFT, which showed normal, and we even got the doc to do a methocholine challenge test, which was also normal. We showed the DODMERB standards to the doc, so that he could make sure he used the right terminology to leave no doubt that there was in fact no asthma. He also wrote a letter stating his opinion very clearly that DS 'did not have asthma' and summarized the data to back that up.

    All of that info was provided when DODMERB requested remedial info, and DS still got DQ'd. After the DQ, we went to another pulmonolgyst and got a second opinion that said the same thing as the first. After many months, DS eventually got a waiver, but it was far from certain.

    best of luck
     
  16. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    Note in the above example, the candidate ultimately was able to demonstrate through medical tests and write-ups that he did NOT have asthma. If you actually have asthma after age 13, your chances of a waiver are very, very small. Not impossible, but very unlikely.

    The reason, BTW, is that the military is a high-stress, high-activity environment. People deploy to areas where there's a lot of dust and other stuff that can trigger an asthma attack, and do stressful things where it's hard for "normal" folks to breathe. The military is concerned that someone with asthma may have an asthma attack under these conditions. An inhaler may not be at hand. Even if it is, someone having an asthma attack puts him/herself in jeopardy, puts his/her shipmates in jeopardy, and puts the mission in jeopardy. The USN/USMC isn't willing to take that chance.

    As stated above, you definitely should go through the process. Maybe you don't actually have asthma. Maybe you will get a waiver. You won't know if you don't try. Just remain realistic.
     
  17. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    ^ This is probably the most important factor -- make sure the Doctor knows what DODMERB/USNA is looking for, so the Doctor can address their concerns appropriately. No reputable doctor is going to change their diagnosis or records to accommodate a patient's application to a Service Academy, but there are subtle things a Doctor can do to phrase a diagnosis to improve chances of a waiver.
     
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  18. stanfordovaly2k

    stanfordovaly2k Member

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    Thanks for all invaluable info and advices!

    A long process will be taken but it’s all about the process.

    My DS is very sure that he will get a waiver since USNA will see his potential future as a leader and the minor medical issues which is mostly administration issue associated with Sea Cadet training documents.

    As a parent, I am supporting his confidence and goal to server the country but I will still need to help to administer exams/proper documents.

    We truly appreciate all great write-ups and recommendation.
     
  19. Humey

    Humey Member

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    I think you are shooting yourself in the foot by saying the the candidate has asthma but wont have any medical issues. The asthma is the medical issue. The trick is he doesnt have asthma and whatever he had was a result of a cold or whatever. Like others have said it can be waived but usually those who do get waved seemed to prove they no longer have it even though it may have occurred after they were 13 or it was misdiagnosed..
     
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