NROTC-Marine Option Process Is A Disappointment

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by boyskowt, May 4, 2012.

  1. boyskowt

    boyskowt New Member

    Mar 19, 2012
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    I'm a 20yr Vet of the Marine Corps (Enlisted) and am very disappointed in how the process has treated my son in respect to what he is currently experiencing. First off, in his application for the NROTC Scholarship - Marine Option, aside from the administration part of the application (e.g. brag sheet, Transcripts, SAT/ACT Scores, rec's from teachers, counselors, writing an essay, etc.) and his medical exam already taken care of since he applied for the Naval Academy (identifying a medical condition before he started the process to which the academy recommended to proceed with an app. and recognized him as a candidate, later was DQ'd for the condition he identified pending waiver review if found competitive by the academy); he's done 2 interviews (all suited up) and completed 3 full Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (Dead hang Pull Ups, Crunches, 3 Mile Run) to show his conviction and of course get the very best score to be competitive. You'd say, yes.... he's doing all he can do to be competitive. That's not what tripped my trigger in respect to the process. Last March, he was notified that he won the scholarship (no "contingent upon..." statement) by a Marine Captain and then later by a Sgt. I of course had to check my son's DoDMERB profile on the website and had to validate his medical status. He was still pending a waiver review by the USNA and a new statement in respect to NROTC - Marine Option was added showing that he was DQ'd for the same problem (which I wasn't surprised) pending waiver submission/review.

    Now the following situation is where I go high and to the right! After notifying the Sgt that contacted my son and briefing him of his medical status, they still wanted to present him with the scholarship stating that they were very confident that he would get waiver approval- I submitted, who was I to question their confidence. So there they were, In front of God, Country Corps (to include my son's HS's Faculty, parents and students), at my son's HS's Awards Night, telling the Marine Corps Story, and putting my son on a pedestal; recognizing all his accomplishments and PRESENTING THE SCHOLARSHIP IN A FORM A BIG FAT CHECK EXCLAIMING THAT THE MARINE CORPS IS PAYING HIS FULL RIDE THROUGH COLLEGE. Least to say my son was very proud that night. Fast forward 2 days later. YES, FOUND OUT HIS WAIVER WAS DENIED. The Marine Reps are telling us that they are appealing the decision but told us that chances are slim.

    After doing my own research, going to the DoDI 6130.03; found out that my son was qualified. Called up DoDMERB. Even though they reference DoDI 6130.03 in the Waiver process, they stated that unfortunately each branch have more restrictive stipulations on the matter (so wait a minute, is it the DoDI or the Navy Reg you all go by - this needs to be corrected). And get this... HE'S MORE THAN QUALIFIED TO ENLIST INTO THE NAVY AND MARINE CORPS IN THE VERY SAME REG THEY USED TO DQ MY SON FROM THE SCHOLARSHIP THAT HE WORKED HARD FOR.


    Now here's the Enlisted Man talking with 20yrs backing him. In my years of observation while in uniform, what sets aside the enlisted ranks from the commissioned ranks in respect to coming into the military is of course maturity (since most enlisted are barely out of high school), intellect, academics and of course high morals/ values and leadership qualities (being vetted the way they do). what DQ's a person in one community should be used in another community (Enlisted and Commissioned Ranks). I can understand if certain physical attributes are needed for a specific job however, I don't understand how if I AM FOUND MEDICALLY PHYSICALLY QUALIFIED TO BE ENLISTED, ANDTHOSE SAME PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES THAT I HAVE AS ENLISTED, WOULD DQ ME FROM BEING ELIGIBLE TO GO TO THE COMMISSIONED RANKS (aside from specific job requisites and career paths - e.g being a pilot).

    I take my son's whole experience in the matter an insult.
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  2. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

    Dec 13, 2010
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    Boyskowt: I am very sorry to hear of your son's experience. Perhaps the waiver being pursued will bear fruit but doesn't sound too promising.

    In regards to the Sergeant and Captain who presented the scholarship I am torn. The facts as you present them sound bad and I would never question your experience nor your interpretation of the situation. At first, I was right there with you. Then I got to thinking and pulled out my DS' paperwork. His acceptance letter from the USMC states that he had "successful completed the selection stage" of the Scholarship process. It advised that he had been "nominated for a scholarship" but that it was contingent on completing all requirements noted including: 1) formal acceptance; 2) gain admission to the assigned school; 3) "must be found physically qualified or receive a waiver" and 4) maintain academic performance and personal conduct at present levels.

    I suppose if one receives this notification late in the spring of senior year and everything was not completed prior to the high school awards night it becomes a judgement call. The "experts" advised you that it looked probable that his waiver would be accepted and your family took the advice. In hindsight, bad judgement, bad advice, embarrassing and frustrating. But was it dereliction of duty? I suppose you would have the best view on that - especially given your 20 year career as a Marine. If (in your judgement) there were deficiencies with how the recruiters handled the situation, you may want to consider advising their chain-of-command for coaching and personal improvement going forward.

    On this forum, we have seen cases where scholarships have been lost for failure to get into the assigned school (and inability or lack of desire to transfer); existing physical conditions that do not get a waiver; physical conditions that develop between now and commissioning; academic performance, legal issues, etc. Many of us know of recruits who start the journey but fail to complete boot camp. Stuff happens. In your case, the set back came right at the front end of the process and that is unfortunate. I am just not sure I see the action of the recruiters as out of line. Just unfortunate.

    In the case of different standards for enlisted and officers. That is interesting. You didn't state the exact nature of the physical condition so my comments are more on the broad nature of differing standards. It has been my experience that different standards have existed for some time: There was a time where officers couldn't have tattoos, or legal issues on their records. Enlisted men were not entitled to marry until the NCO ranks. Not sure but I thought color blindness standards were different for officers and enlisted. On the surface, you would think the medical standards should be the same within a military branch - I certainly can't think of a reason why they shouldn't. I hope someone reading this has a better view on this.

    Many waivers are probably a direct result of the economy and the needs of the Corps. When we are downsizing, they are probably a lot harder to get. When growing, easier.

    I want to stress again that I am not discounting your experience or judgement. You and your son are living it. You have the view and scope of a 20 year veteran so I trust you are reading this right. I just wanted to provide a different view from the cheap seats.

    Thank you for your service and thank you to your son for his interest in serving his country. I wish you the best of luck and if this door closes, I hope you experience another that opens.

    Semper Fi!
  3. boyskowt

    boyskowt New Member

    Mar 19, 2012
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    USMC Grunt:

    Thank you for your reply and being the Devil’s Advocate and no, I do not take your response offensive. In respect to my son’s situation and the whole process, after doing some research (Trust but Verify as they say – with no disrespect intended to the powers that be;….. however, this is bureaucracy at its best), I will reference all pertinent policies in regulations that bring me to my conclusion in the matter.

    First off, in the matter of the Marine Recruiter and his seniors, in MCO P1100.73 "Military Personnel Procurement Manual, Volume 3 Officer Procurement (MPPM OFFPROC)": P1100.73B.aspx

    In paragraph 3001 3-4 under the "Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (Marine Option)", sub-paragraph 16 a. "Presentation of Marine-Option NROTC Scholarship Award", it states that:

    "Subsequent to the scholarship selection boards, we will forward the certificates to the appropriate districts. We will not forward certificates for any selectees declared not physically qualified for the scholarship program. We will, however, forward certificates if the physical qualification is unresolved or in a remedial status. Districts are responsible for monitoring physical qualifications for the program, and ensuring no certificates are presented to any selectees declared to be not physically qualified."

    The last sentence in this reference speaks for itself. And yes, I was aware of the statement “Contingent Upon……” and that is why I briefed the Sgt. in my son’s medical status after he told my son that he won the scholarship (with no mention about “contingent upon…….” ), and again calling me after the fact that they plan to award the scholarship at my son’s HS Awards Night. I only submitted during that time for the fact that I didn’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and gave the professional courtesy of Trust being a Retired Marine. I uncovered all this information after getting confirmed word that my son’s waiver was denied (mind you that the presenters already publicly awarded the scholarship with no “contingent upon….” Statement to the audenience), trying to make sense of this mess.

    In regards to my son's medical disqualification; though he was found disqualified by DoDMERB (and later Waiver Denied by the Waiver Authority at NSTC, Pensacola) for having Distant Visual Acuity not corrected to 20/20 in each eye -D155.41 (My son was assessed with having 20/20 L and 20/200 R corrected) this would be a dead issue if indeed he was found medically disqualified from military service however, in reading DoDI 6130.03 (which DoDMERB references on their website:

    -under Medical Waiver Considerations on the bottom left of the website), and MANMED NAVMED P-117 (which BUMED adheres to), he is qualified.

    In respect to DoDI 6130.03 "Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Military Services":

    Enclosure 4, Paragragh 1, sub-paragraph (e) reads:

    "1. APPLICABILITY. The medical standards in this enclosure apply to:

    e. Applicants for the Scholarship or Advanced Course Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and all other Military Services' special officer personnel procurement programs."

    Furthermore, in the same enclosure (disqualifying conditions); Enclosure 4, Paragraph 5, sub-paragraphs (a through e) reads:

    "5. VISION

    a. Current distant visual acuity of any degree that does not correct with spectacle lenses to at least one of the following (367):

    (1) 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other eye (369.75).

    (2) 20/30 in one eye and 20/100 in the other eye (369.75).

    (3) 20/20 in one eye and 20/400 in the other eye (369.73).

    b. Current near visual acuity of any degree that does not correct to 20/40 in the better eye (367.1-367.32).

    c. Current refractive error (hyperopia (367.0), myopia (367.1), astigmatism (367.2x)), in excess of -8.00 or +8.00 diopters spherical equivalent or
    astigmatism in excess of 3.00 diopters.

    d. Any condition requiring contact lenses for adequate correction of vision, such as corneal scars and opacities (370.0x) and irregular astigmatism

    e. Color vision (368.5x) requirements shall be set by the individual Services."

    My son was medically disqualified and coded with D155.41 by DoDMERB which is again "Distant Visual Acuity not corrected to 20/20 in each eye" with my son being assessed as having 20/20 in his left eye and 20/200 in his right eye corrected. In reading the Department of Defense Instructions presented above, my son is qualified for the Scholarship and take part in an ROTC program under the authority of the Department of Defense.

    With respect to MANMED NAVMED P-117 (BUMED) "Change 139 Manual of the Medical Department U.S. Navy NAVMED P-117 24 Jan 2012": Changes 128, 130, 135-139 below).pdf

    Article 15-35 "Vision-Enlistment":

    The standards for enlistment, commission, and entry into a program leading to a commission are different; refer to the appropriate section.

    (I) For Enlistment

    (a) Current distant visual acuity of any degree that does not correct with spectacle lenses to at least one of the following (367) is disqualifying:

    (1) 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other eye.

    (2) 20/30 in one eye and 2011 00 in the other eye.

    (3) 20/20 in one eye and 20/400 in the other eye.

    (b) Current near visual acuity of any degree that does not correet to 20/40 in the better eye (367) is disqualifying.

    As you can see, my son is qualified to enlist in the Navy's eyes however, in Article 15-36, Paragraph 4 (a) "Vision-Commission and Programs Leading to a Commission" it reads:

    (4) For Commission in the United States Marine Corps

    (a) Current distant and near visual acuity of any degree that does not correct with spectacle lenses to 20/20 in each eye is disqualifying.

    This is where I believe gives authority to BUMED to deny my son his waiver without even assessing the situation.

    In MANMED NAVMED P-117, Article 15-31, the Waiver process in itself is so vague and subjective. There are no specific parameters in respect to what degree a condition is waiverable or not waiverable; other than that BUMED is the organization to recommend waiver disposition and that the Waiver Authority has the authority to approve or deny a waiver (if someone has other references to dispute this or give a better light into the waiver process, please do chime in). So if you’ve been reading other Threads on applicants being DQ’d and undergoing the waiver process, DoDMERB can only states that they cannot speculate an outcome of a waiver request because it is all on a case by case basis and dependent on BUMED’s recommendation and the Waiver Authority’s decision. This is where the unfairness begins because, again as seen on other threads, you can have let’s say two young men; heck..... let's say they are both identical twins with the same medical conditions and applying for the same branch of service. Both waiver requests goes up but one request goes to one assessor and the other request goes to another assessor. One comes back approved, the other comes back denied; with the Waiver Authority trusting in the judgment of the BUMED assessors. Where's the justice in that.

    Now back to my son situation and serving. I’ve taught my son to respect those in government and of course those serving; wearing our country’s uniform. With what I have just explained in what my son experienced, how would you feel if you were in his shoes? Again, being a Vet (enlisted) and a parent, how would you feel knowing in what I have just laid out (references included)?
  4. EDelahanty

    EDelahanty 5-Year Member

    May 7, 2010
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    USMCGrunt's comments were thoughtful and accurate in my view. While your frustration is understandable, it doesn't look like anyone acted in bad faith. Overenthusiasm, perhaps. One thing is certain, it would create choking bottlenecks to medically qualify or disqualify everyone applying for scholarships in advance, especially with the extended time often needed for the remedial and waiver process following DQs.

    I hope your son will meet this disappointment with resilience.

    (Boyskowt, having seen your followup explanation, I wonder if you have investigated corrective surgery for your son. Although somewhat expensive, this could be a solution. Note that if such surgery occurs within a specified time period prior to accession, it would even if successful set off an automatic DQ, which in turn would be cured by the passage of time.)
    Last edited: May 5, 2012
  5. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

    Dec 13, 2010
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    I would feel frustrated and ready to fight.

    Just like you, I would seek understanding. I would exhaust every avenue to find the resolution we sought - knowing all along the chances of winning against the bureauacracy that exists in our military and government.

    I would sit my son down and drive to the heart of "why" he wants to serve then help him explore other options including alternate USMC commissioning programs and then investigate alternative officer commissioning programs (Army, Air Force, Coast Guard). If the military path was blocked I would help him find other ways to serve his country and fellow man.

    At least I hope I would.

    Best of luck to your son (and to you)
  6. shdabn1

    shdabn1 5-Year Member

    Jan 16, 2012
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    Thought out these posts, it seems that when the subject of medical waiver denials are addressed that the same response comes out. When we are downsizing, they are probably a lot harder to get. When growing, easier.
    How and why can we have differences in what is medically qualifying and disqualifying. And that it is based on the times and needs for our military.
    There are several factors, which command surgeons from each service are to consider prior to making a waiver decision. These factors are the following:

    a. Is the medical condition progressive?
    b. Is the medical condition subject to aggravation by military service?
    c. Will the condition preclude satisfactory completion of prescribed training and
    subsequent military duty?
    d. Will the medical condition constitute an undue hazard to the cadet or others in a
    field environment?
    e. Will the medical condition require an excessive utilization of medical resources
    on active duty?

    I believe that the above hold true of all service? If so, how can one service approve when another denies?
    This factor does not or should not change based on downsizing or growth of our military. If the condition is truly disqualifying today, it should be disqualifying tomorrow.
    Consideration and offer of appointment should take into account all aspect before someone receives an offer. This should include medical, to be offered an appointment or scholarship and then right before acceptance or enrollment to be denied a wavier is both unacceptable in today’s environment and also a major waste of government money and resource.
    This is just my opinion as I understand the frustration that Boyskowt feels.
  7. boyskowt

    boyskowt New Member

    Mar 19, 2012
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    USMC Grunt and shdabn1, thanks for understanding and validating that I do have a legitimate complaint.

    USMCGrunt: In reading other service branches medical disqualification policies outside the DoDI 6130.03 that DoDMERB references, my son no matter what, is disqualified vision wise for all service branch commissioning programs; still requiring a waiver to be qualified for these programs. Again, waiver policies in each branch are still vague and subjective. I still don’t understand why the Department of Defense states in their instructions manual for inducting personnel, that a person like my son and his specific medical condition is qualified for such a commissioning program yet, each service branch says otherwise.

    Shdabn1: The questions you posed are definitely the answers I’m seeking to include the medical regulation disparity between inducting persons interested in enlisting and those interested in a commissioning program (e.g. Service Academies, ROTC Scholarships, etc. – not everyone wants to be a pilot or special operations/SF).

    EDelahanty: In respect to an early disposition of an applicant, regardless of branch an applicant is submitting their application to and taking into consideration the budgetary scope of the inducting year (if money is the driving forces that weighs heavy on a waiver decision), each service branch should identify and publish those medical conditions they will not waiver that year or identify permanent disqualifying conditions that do not warrant a waiver (or at least specific parameters of medical conditions – a certain degree of a medical condition- that are waiverable or not waiverable). A screening process, administratively per service branch program, should be done before an applicant starts the whole process (asking the applicant of known medical conditions – in the case of my son, he was well aware of his vision and as I said earlier, did disclose this with the Naval Academy before starting the process, they in turn notified him to proceed with the process and did recognized him as a candidate- he assumed that since still within the realm of the Navy; that it was ok to apply for the NROTC Scholarship). If identified early administratively (medical conditions that do not warrant a waiver), the process will not create a bottle neck as you’ve explained because most applicants will not proceed if their chances are slim to none. It is a disservice to the applicants and as shdabn1 stated, a waste of money and resources pushing those applicants through that will most likely be disqualified and not receive a waiver because of constraints due to budget.
    If money is not the driving force of what pushes a waiver request’s outcome, then why the disparity (if ok one year, why not ok the next; if ok for service branch a, why not ok for service branch b; if ok to be enlisted, why not ok for a commissioning program –less being a pilot and/ or special operations/SF, etc.)? Are applicants truly being fairly assessed of their medical conditions in respect to risk analysis and waivers or, is this bureaucracy at its best? My son was recognized as an NROTC Scholarship recipient contingent upon being medically qualified which means to me, that money has already been allocated to the scholarship recipient and can be used if medically qualified. After reading the DoDI 6130.03 and MANMED NAVMED P-117, what would you conclude in respect to my son's situation (my son doesn't want to be a pilot or special operations/ SF and understands that he is limited to certain occupational fields)?

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