Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DoDMERB)

DoDMERB is most cadets’ greatest fear while in AFROTC, and for good reason. It’s also the source of a lot of memes.



What is DoDMERB?

DoDMERB is the medical examination process that all cadets must go through to determine if they are medically qualified to serve in the military.

The process is managed through the DoDMETS web site, and requires a physical examination with a contracted medical doctor, as well as optometrist. The cadet or applicant does not have to pay for these examinations, but may have to pay to get medical records from old doctors, or for some specialized tests in the attempt at getting a waiver.


Most cadets will start the process in the freshman or sophomore year, unless they receive an HSSP scholarship and then they’ll start it earlier.

Cadets must have a certified DoDMERB before competing for PSP, going to Field Training, and commissioning.

The biggest advice I can give anyone in regards to DoDMERB is to get it done as quickly as possible. Do not make them wait on anything from you. When the detachment NCO tells you how to setup your account, get it done immediately and get the appointments scheduled right away. Make sure you make it to the appointment on time, and if asked for documents about your medical history, get them as quickly as possible!

In my time as cadre we ‘lost’ many good cadets due to them not having a clear DoDMERB in time for PSP. Sometimes it’s out of their control, but other times they delayed getting started on the process and they ended up not having enough time to get it done.

DoDMERBs are good for two years, until you contract and then they are extended to four years. They can also be extended upon request in order to maintain clearance until commissioning.


After completing the exams, your information will be sent to DoDMERB where they will make a determination of ‘Meets’ or ‘Does not meet’ in regards to the medical standards of joining the military. The medical standards they go by can be found in DoDI 6130-03, Medical Standards for Military Service. These are the same for all branches of the military.

If you ‘Meet’ the standards, then you’ll have a clean DoDMERB and will be good-to-go for PSP and contracting.

If you ‘Do not meet’ then your DoDMERB will be denied, and you can attempt to request a waiver. Most likely they will ask for additional documentation from old doctors, perhaps new exams to see if you have recovered from whatever the issue was, etc.

The waiver request then goes to the Surgeon General to be waived or denied. DoDMERB is not the one that determines a waiver, but the branch’s Surgeon General.

This is why you may get a waiver for a certain condition from the Army, but not the Air Force, because they have different Surgeon Generals with different levels of risk tolerance, and different recruiting requirements.

Common issues

The most common medical issues that lead to denial of DoDMERB clearance include:

  • Learning disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • History of mental illness
  • Self harm
  • Asthma
  • Heart issues
  • Joint issues
  • Some allergies
  • Eczema
  • Severe Headaches
  • Scoliosis

Please understand that everyone’s medical situation is completely unique. Just because you have been diagnosed with one of the medical issues above (or any other medical issues) doesn’t mean that you have zero chance of joining AFROTC.

Also understand that just because someone else with the same diagnosis did or did not get a waiver, doesn’t mean you will or will not get a waiver. People very frequently ask others if they got a waiver for condition X, but it really doesn’t matter because their situation will be different than yours. Just go through the process and hope for the best.

Be honest but don’t self-diagnose

It is critical that you’re completely honest with the doctors and throughout the entire DoDMERB process. Lying or omitting information would be an integrity violation that could lead to fraudulent enlistment, or dismissal from the AFROTC program.

However, I would encourage you to not self-diagnose. You’re not a doctor, so don’t volunteer more information than you’re asked for.

For instance, if you had a family member pass away or your parents got divorced or your dog died and you were sad, don’t diagnose yourself with depression and disclose it on the DoDMERB form. But if you were seen by a doctor and they diagnosed you with depression or prescribed you medication, then you must disclose it.

If you have dry, itchy skin sometimes, don’t diagnose yourself with eczema and disclose it. But if diagnosed by a dermatologist that you have eczema, disclose it.

If you get distracted sometimes, don’t diagnose yourself with ADHD. But if you were diagnosed with that by a doctor and had medication for it, or were on a special learning plan in high school, then you must disclose it.

If you get headaches every now and then, don’t diagnose yourself with ‘severe headaches.’ But if you have actual migraines and have to go lay down in a quiet place, or have seen a doctor regarding headaches, or are on serious medication for them, then you must disclose them.

Hopefully that makes sense. Be 100% honest, but disclose official medical diagnoses, not symptoms.

Change in medical status

Cadets must disclose to the detachment NCOs or APAS any medical change, within 72 hours.

For example, an injury, or a new diagnosis, a surgery, etc.

Medical Recheck Status (MRS)

MRS is for contracted cadets, and allows a cadet that is temporarily medically disqualified to still compete for selection boards and receive monetary benefits.

A Detachment Commander may place a cadet on MRS for up to 30 days for a minor injury such as a twisted ankle, flu, etc.

MRS status for up to six months is determined a higher level medical department.

MRS status for over six months must be granted by the Region Commander.

Cadets on MRS will not take the fitness test and will likely participate in a modified version of PT that aligns with their condition, or no PT at all.

Upon coming off of MRS, cadets must pass the PFA within 60 calendar days, unless they already have a passing score for that semester.

Cadets on MRS cannot attend field training, or commission as an officer.

Non-contracted cadets that have a medical issue change will have to be re-evaluated by DoDMERB before they are cleared again