Possible medical separation


Nov 11, 2022
My plebe has had some health issues since arriving at USNA and is awaiting the results of medical testing. He's been told if one of those tests is positive, he will likely be separated. It's September. He's only been in class a few weeks. What options would he have for transferring to another university? Will he need to sit out a whole school year? Will USNA help with that transfer at all or just pack his bags? (Yes, I know the test may not be positive. I'd just like to be armed with a plan if he suddenly gets told he's being kicked out.)
Anecdotally from friends who have had kiddos separate, both medically and not, the process was not quick. PM me if you would like me to put you in touch with parents that can speak to their experience. Although I would wait until it’s a for sure thing.

I would not count on being able to join a program starting this fall. Perhaps spring session.

Best wishes for your plebes health.
Best of luck - I hope it is negative.

I know someone who separated in plebe first academic semester from USMA. Went to a university second semester.

If he applies now - he could get in. And the separation will take awhile - hopefully he can secure first semester credits.

If he clears medical and isn’t separated - no harm no foul.
I am sorry to hear this is happening, with a potential med sep hanging.

With luck, he would be allowed to stay the rest of the semester and separate in December, earning some credits. He should not hesitate to ask for that. He should remain positive and professional, making it easy for his chain of command to support and advocate for him. Applying elsewhere will be up to him. The Registrar can supply a transcript.

He would get discharge paperwork. It is important to keep good track of that, especially the DD-214 form, which documents time in military service.

He would be briefed on any VA medical benefits he is entitled to. Once out out of the military, the VA, not DoD, deals with medical benefits.

He may or may be eligible for other federal VA benefits, given the short duration of his time on active duty and that it was considered entry-level. There are certified veteran benefit counselor volunteers at your local veteran service organizations (VFW, AL, AMVETS, etc.), who can help navigate. No membership is required.

All states have their own unique veteran benefit programs, separate from the federal VA program. Look on your state website for something like “department of military affairs” or “veterans’ benefits bureau,” as they have different names. Many times state veteran eligibility criteria is less stringent than federal, and there are educational benefits that can be used. We had a USNA sponsor son who was medically separated during flight training. His home state veterans’ benefits included either undergrad or master’s tuition and fees at any one of 3 state universities.

State, county and larger cities often have a veteran assistance office with trained counselors on federal and state programs.

Let us know how it goes.

There is no barrier to him going to work for federal civil service, as another way to serve, unless it’s a special agent role with medical screener. All kinds of undergraduate programs. Examples:

Google any big federal department or “ABC” agency and student programs.
If you want to be proactive, you might research schools that are acceptable to DS both socially (i.e., would like to go there) and to you / DS financially that do accept students starting in second semester and, if so, what requirements exist to access that option. Also look at community college. Another option is for DS to do a "gap semester" and work or do something else productive.

Hopefully, DS gets good news and this is all for naught.
That's a lot for your son and family to process - best of luck to you and hope it all works out.

In the event that he parts ways with USNA, were this one of my children, I would confirm when he'll hear back but organize a "go" short term plan he can put into motion in the event he needs to pivot away from the academy.

As noted above confirm options to earn credits from USNA for this semester. That would be ideal to get these. Fair warning others have reported it's a cold world when you are identified to separate at SAs but are still there, breathing. You may end up with whiplash on how quickly that process moves once a decision is made... Explore any veteran benefits he may be entitled to.
Find a local comm. college/ online school you can afford that offers asynchronous learning - explore options to get credits even this fall, even if he doesn't start until 10/15 or whatever. Take courses likely to transfer- you can use his new target 4 year school's transfer credit portal or registrar to confirm exactly what will transfer if he moves quickly, so that he doesn't waste time taking courses that won't.
Apply for internal and external scholarships. File the FAFSA, which may also trigger additional aid even if you don't need it (no guarantee - never did for us, but worth a shot).
Identify and apply to schools for Spring 2024 enrollment - get letters of rec from teachers, coaches (Hi-remember me, well...) SAT/ AP/ACT scores sent to target schools.
Once he has a decision, utilize each month including this coming summer to continue earning credits and moving forward toward a degree.

I imagine he is dizzy/ overwhelmed with this PLUS the normal rigors of that program - but try to assure him "you got this, and we'll help" in aligning his next moves.
If your child got into another civilian University, have them talk to the admissions people about the possibility of a spring start.
If you start the conversation now there's a small chance you could retain some of the financial aid as well. Be clear about the tenuous nature of your inquiry, but if your plebe got into USNA it's likely they'd still be attractive to most civilian schools.