ADHD: A Parenting Guide

Want To Enlist In The Military But Had Childhood Asthma? Here's What You Need To Know

If you would like to enlist in the military but are concerned about having asthma when you were younger, you may be wondering if military service is possible. Before, having any history of asthma would have been disqualifying. Today, however, asthma is only a disqualifying medical condition if you have asthma after your 13th birthday. However, if you have had asthma after you turned 13 years of age, you may still be able to get a medical waiver.

While you could wait until you go through the medical evaluation process at MEPS, it's a good idea to be proactive beforehand. That way, you will go into the process fully aware of your medical situation and with supporting documentation, if necessary. Here's what you would need to do. 

Gather All Medical Records 

Go to your primary care physician or pediatrician's office and obtain all of your medical records. Delve into the records thoroughly while listing dates of asthma-related office visits, emergency department visits, or hospital admissions relating to your childhood asthma. If the dates are well before your 13th birthday, you may not need to disclose the information to your recruiter or to the MEPS personnel. Ask your recruiter for guidance. However, due to the rigors of military training, it's important to have a medical evaluation done on your lungs regardless of when your last asthma issue was noted in your medical records, just to be on the safe side.

Have Pulmonary Function Tests Done

A pulmonary function test measures your lungs' ability to work well. Various measurements are taken to determine how much air you are able to exhale and at what rate they flow. Tests also measure how much lung capacity you have and how well the oxygen from the air you breathe gets into your blood. These tests can be performed by an asthma center.

It's important to understand that asthma is sometimes induced by exercise and since exercise is a huge part of military training, you'll want to be sure to include an exercise challenge as part of your pulmonary function tests. This involves having pulmonary function tests before and after running on a treadmill or using a stationary bicycle to determine whether or not there is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. 

If you had asthma after your 13th birthday, ask the doctor to provide you with a written and signed statement stating the results of the tests and their evaluation of your previous medical records. You will need to attach these documents to the medical pre-screening form, which you can obtain from your recruiter.