Applying for military service means you have to meet specific criteria. You may be disqualified from joining the military if you do not meet one or more of these. Learning how to write a waiver letter for military applications could help you get into the service.
There are several types of waiver letters, but age, drug, conduct, and medical history waivers are the most used. In this article, we will discuss each one and help you distinguish which particular waiver you might need to submit along with your application.
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4 Different Types of Special Permissions
Special permissions like military waivers have been used by hundreds of servicemen in the past to help with disqualification problems.
Various situations require a different type of waiver, so your first step is to determine the requirements of your chosen role or military branch, then learn more about the type of military waiver you can use.
1. Age Waiver
Every military role and branch have age requirements in place. To enlist in the army, you need to either meet the minimum (17 or 18 years old) or not exceed the maximum age requirement (27 to 40 years old).
Suppose you’re too young or too old for a role you want to enlist in or apply for. In that case, you can get a waiver for the Army, Navy, Air Force, or any specific branch of the military to possibly solve age-related, ineligibility issues.
Age eligibility by military branch
Age isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Age requirements also vary between different military branches. For example:
- Air Force/Space Force: To enlist or join the Air Force Reserves and Space Force, you must be between 17 and 39.
- The Air National Guard Reserves accepts applicants between 17 and 39 during enlistment.
- You have to be between the ages of 17 & 41 to enlist with the US Navy.
- To enlist in either the Army or Army Reserves, you should be between 17 and 35 years old.
- The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserves’ age requirements are between 17 and 40 years old. But because of other challenging physical conditions,many recommend 27 to 29 years old as the ideal age cap.
- The youngest age cap is in the Marines. You’d have to be at least 17 and up to 28 years old (for Marines) or 29 years old (Marine Guard Reserves).
Re-enlisting to a particular branch is also tricky because your time served would be added to the maximum limit.
If you do not meet these age requirements but have something to bring to the table, use an age waiver letter to explain your situation. The approval or denial differs from case to case, but you’ll have higher chances if you:
- Have unique skill sets
- Have previous military service rendered
- Start the enlistment process right before reaching the max-age cap (especially when you’re over the maximum age of a specific military branch).
Note that submitting age waivers do not automatically guarantee you’ll be able to enlist.
2. Medical Waiver
Contrary to popular belief, you can still enlist in the military even if you have serious physical conditions or mental illnesses. Medical waivers or medical clearance letter for military exist for this situation.
If a past illness deemed you officially ineligible to enlist in the military, but you’ve undergone treatment (and have records to prove it with up-to-date tests), a medical waiver could help you get enlisted after a comprehensive review.
Aside from physical conditions, mental illnesses are also grounds for ineligibility.
Here’s a brief list of health conditions that need medical waivers:
- aids, HIV
- amputated limbs
- asthma and other respiratory conditions
- Crohn’s disease
- heart defects or disease
- infections in the ear and poor hearing
Common mental illnesses that need medical waivers include:
- anxiety disorders
- bipolar disorders
- drug or alcohol use and addiction
If you have any of these conditions and are taking maintenance medications or have been treated properly, get a medical waiver for the army, Navy, or Air Force. There’s a chance you can still enlist in the military branch you choose.
The medical conditions allowed (there’s a long list provided by the Department of Defense) and process of obtainining medical waivers vary from every military branch. The list of conditions is also extremely comprehensive, with every part of the body detailed.
Anyone applying for re-enlisting in the military has to fill out a medical prescreen form (2807-2). Read this form carefully to get an idea of the health issues you might have/had that could be problematic to your military career plans.
If you are unsure if you need a medical waiver, a military recruiter can help prescreen your medical history and advise on the next best step.
3. Drug Waiver
All would-be servicemen and women undergo physical examinations during the enlistment process. However, if your test returns positive for drugs, a drug waiver may be considered for limited “pre-service” use of drugs.
There’s a guide from the DoD about military personnel’s drug abuse testing program.
But every military branch also has its own rules against drug use. For example:
- Air Force: Disqualifies for a positive drug test (except marijuana) but allows a re-test 1 year later.
- US Army and Navy: Waiver will only be given after six months of the initial test and if the newer test comes out negative for drug use (marijuana and alcohol included).
- Marine Corps: A waiver will be issued after filling out a drug abuse screening form.
4. Conduct Waiver
Suppose you have a criminal record or have ever been convicted of anything. In that case, a conduct waiver can help you get cleared for enlisting in the military. But approval is dependent on a lot of factors such as the type of crime committed, time served if any, your current legal status, and the resolution of your criminal record.
- Drugs Cannot be Waived: A waiver cannot help with some criminal offenses. An individual with a record of drug use, involvement in the drug trade, and possession of illicit products cannot get a criminal waiver.
- Ongoing legal cases: Applicants with ongoing legal cases will also not be allowed to enlist. Although misdemeanor charges could be overlooked (depending on the case), having more than five misdemeanor cases filed against you before you enlist is also grounds for disqualification.
- No exemption for serious crimes: Individuals with 3 counts of serious crimes and convictions like theft, rape, and crimes that are sexual in nature will not be allowed to enlist in the military.
The only acceptable offenses you can use in conduct waivers are minor offenses. These include traffic offenses, offenses charged as a juvenile (including dismissed, expunged, cleared, or sealed cases), minor civil charges, and driving under the influence.
This military waiver doesn’t erase minor offenses of a person either. There are also limits to the number of offenses a person can have on his/her file to be able to use a conduct waiver.
If you have a pattern of minor offenses, meaning you’ve been caught jaywalking several times or getting drunk in public, you won’t be able to use a conduct waiver to help your case.
How to Write a Waiver Letter
Before you format and write your letter, establish what type of waiver letter you need. Pick from an age waiver, medical waiver, or felony waiver based on your circumstances.
There is no one size fits all approach to writing a waiver letter. Variations in waiver letters depend on your circumstance and the military brand you are enlisting or re-enlisting to.
If all things are considered, and you still feel you have a fighting chance, ensure that the reasons and justifications you include in your letter hold up.
3 Tips to Write a Waiver Letter for Military Effectively
Use these three tips as your Navy, Air Force, or marine corps waiver guide if you’re trying to craft a letter and get enlisted in your dream military branch.
Tip 1: Go with professional tools and formatting.
A military waiver is an official letter that will be saved in your file. Choose an appropriate tool or program, so the letter looks professionally done.
Use a Word Processing software that meets current standards.
Aside from the wording of your letter, pay special attention to your formatting as well.
Follow these basic letter format rules:
- Begin with the name of the recipient, their address, and then the date.
- Your own name and address should follow next, underlined or highlighted.
- Align paragraphs to justify left
- Setting margins to 1 inch.
Tip 2: Be straightforward and stick to three sections (intro, body & conclusion).
Yes, there is no specific template for writing a waiver letter since every individual has different sets of circumstances. But you can follow this sample of age waiver request letter as a guide:
- 1. Introduction
Use the sample above as a Navy, Air Force, or Army age waiver example to get your introduction down before proceeding to the body.
Keep it simple, fact-based, and straightforward. For example, if you are writing an age waiver, introduce yourself and express this right away.
“Dear (Name of recipient)
I am (Your Name). I am writing this letter to request an age waiver for my enlistment application. I failed to meet the age requirement, several weeks before my birthday”
- 2. Letter body
Be straight to the point, and be completely relevant to your situation.
This part of your letter should also include all justifications and reasons why they should approve your request/waiver. Express in a clear and professional manner the reasons why you believe you should be considered to be granted a waiver.
Present or express only what is relevant to your case
“05 September 2023, I will be 17 years of age and will be eligible to join the Marine Corps.
I have passed all entry exams and physical examinations with flying colors. I have graduated high school with honors.
I am ready for the The Initial Strength Test and Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery test and willing to serve.”
- 3. Conclusion
Finish your letter with a clear message. Make it short and sweet. Lastly, express your appreciation for the time they took to read your letter.
“I can be reached at the following address: 5678 Maine St., Washington, US 67890, (012) 345-6789, or [email protected]
Thank you for the time.
Keep in mind that lengthy, roundabout letters will only bore your reader. Even if it is tempting to explain your case comprehensively, avoid a lengthy introduction and body.
Tip 3: Documents help make your case
Just don’t attach any files for the sake of bulking up your letter. The documents must be relevant to your waiver request and are legible copies.
Add or attach supporting documents if your case needs them. If you had LASIK eye surgery to correct bad vision, include a medical report or doctor’s certificate summarizing your case. If you had a juvenile offense, get copies of your legal documents showing you’ve completed your time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long before you get a result?
Submitting your waiver letter could take up to 3 months before you hear back from the military.
Approval of waivers will depend on several factors, including the complexity of your case and the availability of the people required to approve/deny your request.
Is there an official age waiver template I could follow?
Unfortunately, templates for waivers specific to a branch of the military do not exist. There are no official age waiver sample, usmc age waiver, or reserve age waiver templates that you can copy or follow.
Before you write your waiver letter, review your circumstance, and apply what is relevant to your situation.
Learning how to write a waiver letter for military enlisting or reenlistment could give you an edge. However, approval and granting of your waiver depend entirely on several factors, such as the branch of the military you are applying for.
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