Joining the military can be a daunting task, and during the process recruits may be asked to disclose information that may make them uncomfortable or possibly cause them to be ineligible for the Armed Forces.
Once a recruit pursues a career in the military, they will have to talk to a recruiter for an initial screening. The recruiter will likely ask about health history; however, medical questions may be delayed until the recruit is sent to a Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS. All answers provided at MEPS help determine if the military needs to pull the recruit’s medical records.
When you visit MEPS, the military conducts a medical evaluation to verify that a recruit can withstand the rigors of military service without complications. In addition to a physical exam, recruits must complete a medical history questionnaire. If recruits have an issue of concern with their medical record, they can discuss it with a recruiter. The military can and does issue waivers to recruits who are no longer affected by a prior health problem.
Also, some medical diagnoses are disqualifying. While recruits may feel the desire to hide such an ailment, the military can check and will check medical records if something makes them suspicious.
If a recruit lied while enlisting, which includes failure to disclose previous medical diagnoses, a service member would be discharged for fraudulent enlistment. The recruit would be given an administrative discharge for fraudulent entry, with a Reenlistment Eligibility (RE) code of “4” and would never be able to enlist again. A fraudulent entry discharge will follow them for the rest of their life.
Failure to Disclose Information
The Enlistment Contract or DD Form 4/1 signed and acknowledged by the recruit includes Paragraph 13a of the contract, which specifies that acceptance for enlistment is based on information given in the application and that the enlistment may be voided or terminated if that information is false. The recruit may be tried by Federal, civilian, or military court and may be punished.
Knowingly giving false information, which includes withholding information on any recruiting form, is a criminal offense when such information would have made an individual ineligible to enlist or require a waiver for enlistment.
Such violations are a felony offense, punishable by a $10,000 fine and three years in prison. If a recruit is found lying to get into the military, they are guilty of committing a felony. While recruits may be able to enlist, they are usually caught later. Such recruits may also be prosecuted under Article 83 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which states that “any person who…procures…enlistment or appointment in the armed forces…” or, “procures…separation from the armed forces by knowingly false representation or deliberate concealment as to his eligibility… shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
Violation of this article carries the maximum punishment including dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay/allowances, as well as confinement at hard labor for two years.
The military may not pull a recruit’s medical records during or after MEPS if there is no prior history of medical problems or irregular test results. However, if a recruit becomes ill or injured after enlistment, the military can pull medical records to search for a pre-existing condition. If the recruit has failed to disclose relevant information, the military could discharge the recruit for fraudulent enlistment, which prevents future reenlistment and access to certain benefits. Honesty is always the best policy, which goes double if enlisting in the military.