Community Forum

Getting into the military with epilepsy.

Hello, I tried to get into the Army when I was 18 but they denied me because they couldn't guarentee that I would or could get my medication on a daily basis!  It makes sense!  Now my 17 year old son has plans of joining the Navy.  I've told him what I went through and what they told me but he's already talked to recruiters that have told him that he could get in.  Do different branches have different rules for enlistment?  I've already made my son promise me that he wouldn't enlist until after Bush is out, but Bush has created such a mess it's going to take years to clean up his mess and to get our troops out safely!  My son's grades aren't good and I've already been told that the Navy won't take him unless he has at least a C average, so that sets my mind at ease!  Does anybody have any first hand knowledge regarding getting into the armed forces with E. 


I'm glad to hear your son will be joining the Navy after the war in the desert of Iraq is over too, I don't see the Al-Queda Navy getting any stronger anytime soon, and real men and women in The United States Army are fighting the war in Iraq. Besides that, a C average won't get him into The Air Force. I can't remember the last time the Navy fired a shot in a the war, or in self-defense during the Iraq War, so it sounds like he's joining the right branch of military service to me. I hope he enjoys floating around the world on a boat full of men.

Have the rules changed over the years?  Can he actually get into the military with having epilepsy?   Without the guarantee that he can get his meds on a daily basis?  I haven't had a chance to talk to a recruiter yet and my son is afraid of me talking to one because he knows my feelings and knows that  I was turned down for the army!  I won't lie, I don't want my son to join because I know that he needs his meds every day and neither one of us wants him to get as bad as I got with E, and he's only heard stories about my E!



Worked in stress in a police dept. setting, did not tell them of my sz.  You are in a different pressure setting and the need of medication.  One time had to do a double duty w/ no food and no medication  and no sleep and I was strong and felt I could do anything.  I could do it a few times and then one time I woke up in a hospital setting and did not know where I was, and found out I had status. Beware  I do not mean to  put you down I changed my mine and ended my field of work and ended in a work in the health field that is in demand and you get health insurance,  my Neurologist gave me suggestions on where to start and now I am married and have 2 children. I have a sz disorder.  I lived in Oceanside near a Marine Base.  Now I live on the East coast and see a lot of injuries of the dedicated soldiers of terrible injuries.  

If you feel it is your duty go for it! 

You can try to get waivers, if your son scores high on the asvab and does exceeding well on the physical fitness tests and they really need him they could push for a waiver.  That's my plan today actually, but due to issues with my most recent seizures I also got a whole new diagnosis, new medication and am finally myocholonic jerk free, and feel no auras when I miss a single dose, drink too much, or am exposed to stress.  My second to the last seizure occured in the work place from stress, combined with a single missed dose.  I work retail and had a knife pulled on me after I pursued a man trying to pass a fake a traveler's check in my store.  Then had a chain of events afterward happen that just made the whole night a pain.  Then all of a sudden I woke up and there was an ambulance and another one of the managers jumping out of a car in front of the store totally drunk telling me he had the store that  I've learned to keep meds on me at all times.  Anyway I'm hoping I can get the waiver just based on my college experience, work experience, physical fitness, and a high asvab score.

The only real thing to do is go to the Navy recruiter. I have had 2 seizures one when i was 14 and the other when I was 15. I went to the Navy recruiter and he was able to get me a waiver in a day. the important thing to have is documents stating that your son is clear of epilepsy!!has he had a normal tests nothing abnormal? If so then just go get another one done and see a neurologist and have him clear your son then take that documentation to  the recruiter and he should be able to get you a waiver thats what i did when I got into the Navy. Good Luck it's a little bit harder to get into the other branches if you've had seizures.


Hi all. I was forced to retire after 13 years due to Adult Onset TL Epilepsy. I was also a Navy Counselor Chief, Career Recruiter during that time. I can tell you that with a diagnosis of Epilepsy your son can not join.  A waiver can be obtained if a person (without Epilepsy who has a seizure) is seizure free for 5 years, but in 9 years I never saw one get through. If a recruiter tells you he/she can get a medical waiver in one day, it's bologne these days! The physical alone is an all day process and if a waiver is required, it takes in some cases up to 2 weeks or longer. I have also heard of recruiter's telling applicant's to lie, stop taking meds, etc.. but like someone mentioned earlier, you would most definitly have to have records from your Neurologist stating he is seizure free and it was a childhood illness, he grew out of it, etc.. It's unfortunate, believe me, but it's for his own good. We are considered a liability regardless of where we're stationed or in what compacity we work in. If he were to have a seizure, he would have to abide by the laws in the state in which he was stationed. I was not able to drive for over a year, shower alone, live alone, etc... The Navy can't be responsible for that, not to mention if we were to have a seizure while on deployment. I was forced to move home at 30, sell my house.. needless to say I was not a happy camper. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don't want your son to get his hopes up. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me.



So, my family member can get accepted to med school to train as a surgeon, with an active medicated diagnosis of epilepsy, and the military won't touch him? Something about this is messed up. So does the military accept diabetics? People with high blood pressure? Bipolars? Because they also need medication on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, that's how it works. As far as the military accepting someone with pre-existing diabetes or bipolar disorder; they're also denied entry. They're a liability any way you look at it. If they're out to sea, on deployment or even TDY and run out of medication the consequenses could be fatal. It's not discrimination; it's for the protection of other service members as well as the individual trying to enlist. You have to look at it from a liability stand-point. Although i was devistated when I was forced to retire after 13 years, I understand why I was no longer an asset, but a liability. As you know when you have uncontrolled seizures, you're not allowed to drive or live alone. This kind of care is impossible in the military for long periods of time. Even if seizures are controlled, there's no guarantee. It's not just medication supply; if an epileptic were out in the field and suddenly had a seizure it could not only endanger his or her life, but the life of those around him. The medical field is quite different than being in harms way on a consistent basis.

There are exceptions for diabetics "if" the member becomes a diabetic on active duty. On a case by case basis, based on the level of severity and medical care needed, the service member may be allowed to stay on active duty in a non-deployable status. If it can be controlled by diet alone, then it's also allowable. Bipolar disorder is another "if". If diagnosed on active duty, then a medical determination can be made to see if the member is still fit for duty.

I'm sorry you feel this is unfair, and in some ways I agree with you. However, I can tell you from personal experience of being an Epileptic - the Navy did me a favor and took care of me. My seizures started somewhere around 3 years ago. It was horrible to say the least. I could barely function before my diagnosis and had no idea what was happening to me. Once diagnosed and medicated, it was even worse adjusting to the medication. I wish your family member great success in becoming a Doctor.

God Bless.

Angela Sanders

In Victoria, Canada we have a police officer who has epilepsy and he is still employed because the seizures are controlled. I wouldn't be surprised if they do the same for the military. Of course, it can be a stressful occupation which might provoke seizures, depending on where the superiors post their recruits once they're in. But it doesn't hurt to try. It's a free country. 


No, your son cannot join any branch of the service if he has epilepsy. Generally, an applicant must be seizure free for a period of 5 years without the use of medication in order to be allow to enlist.

Exceptions are made and waivers are issued. But only in cases where an applicant had a single seizure incident within 5 years but has not been diagnosed as an epileptic nor has had any other history of seizures. The Army and the Marines are the only ones that I've heard of issuing these waivers.

But a person diagnosed with epilepsy and is currently on medication under the instruction of a physician most definitely will not get one of these waivers regardless of the branch. A person with epilepsy is considered non-deployable and is therefore not wanted.

Also, just FYI: Good or bad high school grades do not matter when joining any branch of the military as long as one has a diploma. How much aptitude a candidate has for each branches MOSs, ratings, AFSCs, etc is dependent on his or her ASVAB score.


Thank you so much or your reply, it's the best one that I've received!  Don't get me wrong, I fully support our troops whom fight for our freedom but I didn't think that my son could enlist.  I didn't think think that the rules would have changed over something as important as getting your meds on a daily basis!  Thank you again! 

Happier Mom

Common sense is not so common!

I think he can get into the military. The footage of that soldier home on leave that had the seizure and the homeless guy robbing him.

Hi, my son who is 17 had his 2nd grand mal on Labor day.  He has not had one since his first one 4 years ago.  He was on depakote until 2 years ago, as he had no seizure activity on his EEG, and doc. said he was clean.  He wants to join the Navy or some other service like Marines, and is now so dissapointed that he can't.  Is all this true?  What if he goes to college on ROTC and does not have a seizure for 5 years???  Could he still be in ROTC?  Thanks.  BTW his seizure was so severe that he dislocated both shoulders anteriorly vs. posteriorly.


Gern (not my real name of course)

i passed all the tests with flying colors and was denied access to the military because of this sz disorder....  granted this was a while ago... but it's still a sore spot that i couldn't get in and serve my country like my friends did....good luck with trying to get in but i doubt it very much......

I was in my first semester of college on a full ride from the Air Force ROTC scholarship when I had my first grand mal and was diagnosed.  It only took a matter of weeks for them to revoke my scholarship and say "thanks but no thanks".  The college kicked in and replaced the scolarship with their own, but it was still a horrible thing to happen.  I had plans for a career.  So, the answer is a most definate NO for the air force, and I am pretty sure that most other services would be the same way.

JME - Diagnosed in 2000

It ain't gonna happen. Not allowed.

I was dx with epilepsy over a year ago and still serving in the Navy, however, I'm in the process of being discharged. I'm waiting on my informal medical board, which I'm sure will come back as recommending me to the permanently disabled list. Then theres the formal board, which I can drag on for years but have no intention doing.

Even though I have been seizure free and not on meds for the last year...they still don't want me. And to tell you the truth I don't want them much either. Given the fact that we are still "at war", and I have been without incident, having not missed a day of work, I am fully capable of doing my job. After 13 years, they have beaten me down; taking me off of the watchbill, reducing my responsibilities, not allowing me to do my job, they are forcing me out. I have given everything to my country and the Navy. I have served in war, saved lives and never complained. I may not be deployable but there is a billet out there that I can fill. Waivers happen everday in the military. When they want you out, that's it, no waiver, no nothing.

I speak from expierence, I'm a Physician Assistant. I have had several patients who have had strokes, heart attacks, diabetes...they still serve. At this point in my career, I'm ready to move on. I'm done fighting...

So, the answer to the question is, NO, you cannot serve your country, on active duty, with epilepsy. I encourage you parents to make sure your sons and daughter do not make the mistake of joining. Even if they have been seizure free, we have no guesstimate as to when another one might occur. The last thing anyone wants is to have their child put themselves in harms way or anyone else for that matter.

Thanks for listening,

Proudly serving, for now

Firstly, Thank you for your service.  It was very selfless of you.  I am sorry for your hardships and hope this opens a door to a whole new world for you.

My son wanted to be a Marine.  He had planned on finishing his 4 yr degree and joining as an officer.  Well you know they wont take him on E BUT let me share some of the unethical things recruiters have told him:

1) Lie

2) Dont tell

3) Stop taking your meds

4)Get a Congressman to write you a waiver

My thoughts on this is, it made my son hurt? angry? disappointed? enough to not be able to join the military, this like rubbing salt in a wound.  My son knows if he lies or omits the E part, he can be dishonorably discharged.  For someone who wants to serve in honor?  Thats not the way to get what you want.  I understand the deployable aspect but also know many military never see combat.  Why couldnt they take folks with E and let them be cooks, mechanics, engineers.  There seem to be alot of jobs in the military that dont get deployed.  I am sad for my son and hes sadder for him than I am.  I am trying to get him refocused on another career but its not easy. 

Hang in there and be well






Son lamictal 19 Grand Mals Daughter lamictal 15 Juvenile myclonic Both had first issues at 15 - gotta love puberty : ) * Both dealing with it* Live, Laugh, Love

I'm sorry. The same thing happened to me. I'm now a retired Chief, forced to retire after 13 years. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy in June 2007 and retired July 2008. I was so angry and it still bothers me to talk about it sometimes. Unfortunately for me, it took over a year to get my seizures under control; I couldn't drive, live alone or care for myself...So you can see I was definitely no longer an asset to the Navy. It sucks, but I'm here to tell you something better is right around the corner. Getting angry only hurts you, the Navy will still go on without us. Took me a while to figure that one out;-) The hardest part is being forced out against your will; I know your pain. If you ever need anything or just want to talk, please email me. Take care of yourself and God Bless.

I'm an O-3 in the Air National Guard and suffered five tonic-clonic seizures two weeks ago and was diagnosed with Epilepsy (EEG confirmed). This all happened overseas in the UK while on a long leave of absence (my civilian husband was working overseas and I accompanied him). My husband and I were going to travel around the world until February but due to the seizures I've come back to the states. I've notified my chain of command about the seizures and they told me to get a second opinion from U.S. doctors -- in the meantime they'd also research medical waivers because they don't want to lose me. After reading this thread the reality has hit that pursuing a waiver will be a fruitless process. When I was in the emergency room and was told about the seizures, I immediately broke down because I knew my military career was finished (served 4 years AD, 4 years ANG). Ugh, but I'm an optimist and was holding out hope I could still serve.

As mentioned before, my leave of absence was supposed to last until February. Do you recommend I insist on commencing the discharge process immediately so that I don't prolong suffering through bureaucratic shenanigans?

Hi Alyson,

I would do as the ANG told you and get a 2nd opinion in the states, then proceed with your medical discharge. They're going to need a paper trail to forward your medical board. The longer it's drawn out, the more it will hurt you. I'm so sorry. I know how you must feel, but believe me - things will get better. The most important thing for you right now is to continue to follow up with a Neurologist, ask for additional testing in order to find out what type of Epilepsy you have and where it's originating in the brain. Once you and the Dr's have this information, it will help in the treatment process and you may be able to get your seizures under control.

I was a skeptic at first; I saw multiple Dr's, but to no avail the original diagnosis was correct. I knew at that time, I had to do what was best not only for the Navy, but myself.  The beginning stages of treatment can be scary, especially in cases such as ours where we're diagnosed as an adult. I was heartbroken - devistated! I allowed the loss of my career and independence bring me into a severe depression. Not to mention, the medication I was on had it's share of additonal side effects, including making my situational depression worse. It's ok to be sad, but don't let it consume you. Although I still miss the Navy, Epilepsy has given me a new appreciation of life and given me opportunites I could only dream of :)

Once your stabilized, you slowly gain some of what you've lost. Originally I thought E was a death sentence; I had no idea a lot of what I was initially experiencing was temporary. After a year, my seizures were controlled, I was able to drive again and live alone! Woo hoo! :) I then met my husband and we now have a precious baby boy...all of which I would have never had if I didn't have E.

If you need to vent, rant, scream, cry... you can email me directly from the website by clicking on my profile. I'm hear if you need an ear. I know what you're feeling - you're not alone! You're in my thoughts and prayers!



i tried to join the navy.  told them i had Epilepsy, but had been seizure free for 5 years.  i took all of the test and qualified for anything they had.  then at the finish, the doc ask if i had any medical problems as a child.  i told him about the siezures, and they stamped me good-bye.

I then did the thing that i should not have done.  i went across the street to army and took all the same test, including the medical.  when i was asked about child illnesses.  nothing other than the normal stuff.  fevers, tonsils, that kinda of stuff.  i spent the next 6years in the army.  i had a seizure about half way through and spent the rest of the time worried that i would get someone killed.  i was lucky.  i agree with the bush thing, but that is another thing.  my time was in nam.  the rules havn't changed.  you have seizures, you don't go.  that was as of 6mts ago when i was ask a similar question.  the answer included past history or present illness with control.  sorry about the situation,  glad you ask the question.

Thank you to everyone that has replied to this thread!  Currently my son has chnaged his mind and now wants to go into the Air Force and fly planes.  Now, I'm trying my best to be a person of reason but when you're talking to a brick wall and nothing penatrates my hands are basically tied!  I know that the Air Force is the toughest to get into.  As far as my son flying planes, I've asked him what he's going to do when he seizes while flying or in battle and the response that I get is "that won't happen to me!"  I have a little or should I say a big numbskull as a son.  He just doesn't understand the ramifications of his actions.  I've copied this thread and e-mailed it to him and he says that everyones against him.  Now being his mother I know that that's not true and I told him point blank that I'm just trying to save him from embarresment in front of friends "because none of his friends knows that he has E., he's to ashamed to admit it and I think that he hasn't admitted it to himself yet that he has E. 

I think that he changed his mind from the Navy because he talked to a recruiter and the recruiter told him the same thing that dear old mom did.  What's a person to do but go into another branch right.....  just yesterday He got a recruitment package in the mail from the Army; 'sounds like he's trying every branch that he can.

Now please don't get me wrong, I think that the military would do my little numbskull a world of good.  If you can't tell already from what I've written just in this, he's a persistant little buggar that doesn't want to listen to moms advice.  So from now on I'm going to keep my mouth shut and let him find out on his own what branch he can "cannot " get into!  He's off to a good start! 

Common sense is not so common!  I would definitely have to say that this comment suits my son to a T.

Proud mom of a child with E. trying to help him help himself!

Again I would like to thank everyone that has given advice and told life experiences.

I plan on trying to join the Army. I want to be a chef, but I do have epilepsy. But, I haven't had a seizure in 2 years. I mean, why can't I be in the military as a chef if I have epilepsy?!? All I want is to be a cook. I need the money for college so I can go to culinary school. If I could get a scholarship instead than I wouldn't try to join the military. I don't want to put anyone in danger, but how can a chef do that?!? Doesn't the military need cooks?!? (Of course they do!) I've read every other post and it seems that after 5 years of being seizure free this is possible. Doesn't the job you do matter? I would just be cooking. The only way for me to find out is to go to the recruiter myself.

 We shall see what happens. Will I need a waiver? Will I get in?

No you wont get into the military with E.  My son so wanted to be a Marine, then a cop.  No to both.  BUt : ) what he could do and is doing is Firefighting.  Not exactly what he had in mind but seems to suite him.  He was sworn in last week and starts the academy this week.  Your dreams may change but continue to dream**

I wish you well


Son lamictal 350 mg a day 19 Grand Mals - Stable Daughter keppra 750 16 Juvenile myclonic - On MAD since 6/09  doing GREAT!!!! yet Both had first issues at 15 - Both JME - gotta love puberty : ) * Both dealing with

When cooking do you use sharp knives or even hot water that you could throw or drop during a seizure?  I broke so many of my moms glasses and dishes and also have thrown a few knives throughout the years "seizures, not on purpose!"   I know that you probably don't want to hear this but we "people with epilepsy" are more of a danger to ourselves than we realize when we are active!!!! 

My son got denied from all branches.  He's never had a Gran-mal aka Tonic-clonic seizure but due to the fact that he does need medication on a daily basis, the military cannot gaurantee that they can get your meds to you on a daily basis especially in the dessert!  That's the same thing that they told me 20 years ago when I tried to enlist in the army!  Thank you again to everyone that has commented on this topic.  I hope that this helps anybody interested in the military!  I'm sorry about the answer on getting in.  Trust me, it's not what I wanted to hear either when I tried to enlist in the Army, but they are only trying to protect you and others that could get injuried or even killed if we had a seizure and the wrong moment!  I know that there's no right moment to have a seizure, but in the middle of combat with 20 or so people watching your back and you watching thier backs it could get real ugly!  That's something that I had to come to realize over the years and am trying to let my son know from my experiences but he has to learn them on his own I guess!

Good luck to you in everything that you do! 

Common sense is not so common!

I think there is a serious misconception in this statement.  Not every form of ep. is the same!  If I say "I have seizures", people automatically assume I have full seizures, and that , like you say with the person who posted this comment, I will have one and toss knives everywhere.  I presently cook professionally at a grocery store, using sharp knives, boiling water, etc every day.  I've never once had a problem- but I don't have grand mal seizures.  The only full one I've ever had was when I was 18 years old, during my initial and first onset of seizures.  I am now 29 years old, and have not had a seizure that has caused me to loose consciousness since.  Since I started my medications at age 18, the only "seizures" I have had have been "partial complex seizures".  That is, I am conscious, aware, and in control- I remember every moment, and am able to function.  The only sign of the seizure is slight twitches of my lips, sometimes into a frown... also, during the seizure, I have some emotional effects, something like the feelings you get after waking up from a strong dream.  I am aware immediately that I am having the seizure, and am able to compensate for the "lack of processing power", and even try to hide the fact my lips are twitching (twitching lips are the worst of the side effects, as well).  It has been this way for 9 years.

 Now, if I did not have access to my medications- yes, it is possible I could reach the level of grand mal, full seizures again.

I'm on here looking at the military myself just as this fellow is- but it looks like the real risk is that the military does not want to risk us NOT having access to our medications.  If supply lines are cut off, if for some reasons meds are not available... if we're captured and held hostage, etc... they don't want their soldiers going into epileptic fits.

But, I do not like you making a blanket statement about epilepsy and cooking, or other jobs that require a steady hand and consciousness.  I have safely operated heavy machinery and delicate equipment for 9 years now without fail or danger- not every "seizure" is the same.

I served 13 years in the Navy. I was forced to retire last year because of Adult onset Epilepsy (TLE) that came out of nowhere. I had no family history or head injury; the cause is still unknown. It was devistating, but I came to realize that I was a huge liability and a danger to myself and others due to Epilepsy. As much as I loved the Navy and wanted to stay, I had to throw in the towel. I'm sorry kiddo, but as someone else stated earlier there is no way you can get in the military, (any branch) with E. Before I retired I was a Navy Counselor Chief, Career Recruiting Force, so I'm speaking from experience. The only way a waiver can be processed is if the seizure was an isolated incident, that requires no medication, not diagnosed as epilepsy and hasn't happened within the last 5 years. If a recruiter tells you otherwise, he or she is lying. In which case, you may be asked to lie and let me warn you - If you lie it will come back to bite you later. The govt. can and will find out when they run your background check. By no means am I trying to scare you or question your integrity, only trying to help. I've worked with so many kids that would do anything to get into the military and serve their country and because of medical circumstances beyond their control, they're not eligible. I wish you nothing but the best. There are so many other ways to fulfill your dreams, never give up!! God Bless.



Unfortunately my son inherited E from me.  I was 4F because of my condition and unable to join but that was back in the 60's.  I thought the military would have evolved by now. My son went down to the Air Force recruiters office and was told he was not eligible due to his E.  I have preached God and Country all his life and he really had his heart set on joining the military.  Is there no post or position in the military where he could serve without putting anyone else in danger?  His seizures are controlled with medication much like high or low blood pressure or any number of other conditions that require medication.  

I understand the security of our country comes first but it just seems that young men and women with epilepsy are left with the feeling that they are not good enough or complete enough to serve their country.

If you have any idea's or suggestions for my son, they would be very welcome.

Thank you and God bless America,


  It ain't going happen. So forget it.

getting into the army with syphillis. you can not get in if you haveepilepsy and if you get it after gettin in you can not get out until you get rid of it. our government is locked in the 1800's thinking of witchcraft.

That makes absolutely no sense. I'm sure this young person is serious about wanting to join the military and would like serious feedback.

I was attending the Air Force Academy and had my first seizure during my junior year at age 20.  Immediately, the Academy tried to have me disenrolled.  I was able to successfully appeal to the Superintendant, but the Air Force conducted its own non-Academy medical review.  I was given the green light to be commissioned, but it was overturned by the Pentagon.  In the end, I was able to graduate, but did not receive my commission alongside my classmates.  It was a long and emotional process, to be honest, and I can’t say I was happy with the result.  I was selected to be a financial management officer after graduation.  Not as glamorous as a pilot, sure, but a desk job, so I didn’t think it would be a big issue.  I understand that I can’t be deployed, as a liability to myself and my fellow servicemen and women, but I was hoping that I could still serve.

Overall, I’ve had four seizures, and we don’t know the cause.  I’ve been on medication (first Dilantin, now Lamictal), and it seems like we’ve figured out the right dosage to keep them under control (knock on wood).  It’s been a year and a half since my last seizure.

I stumbled upon this thread because I was hoping that I could find my way back into the service, Air Force or otherwise.  I’m currently in law school, and there are many avenues to becoming a JAG.  However, despite my high hopes, it seems like I would surely be denied, although I can’t say I’m surprised.  The Air Force (and perhaps the other branches) is working towards a fully deployable work force (they call it “force shaping”).  Perhaps the military will change directions or policies and I can try my luck again, but in the meantime, I have some law books to read.


First off hugs and congrats** Im sorry about the Military but am so pleased your taken another direction that seems to make you happy.  Life about being happy.  Dreams change and adspt, they still good dreams*

The only good news? I can give you for the Military and Ive researched this a bit for my son, is IF you are seizure free 5 years  you do not have to claim your epilepsy.  Maybe you can sneak in that way.

Either way I so wish you nothign but good wishes and good health.


Son lamictal 175 2x 19 Grand Mals - Stable Daughter keppra 500 16 Juvenile myclonic - On MAD for 80 days and doing GREAT!!!! Both had first issues at 15 - Both JME - gotta love puberty : ) * Both dealing with it*

OMG!  I found that last comment very disturbing, "maybe you can sneak in!"  WTF!!!!!!!!!!!  They have these rules and guidelines to protect us and innocent civilians! 

I wish you all of the luck in the world on becoming a member of JAG, very commendable!  My son and I where both denied due to the fact that we have to take medication on a daily basis and none of the branches can guarantee that that could happen even in basic training!

Please never try to 'Sneak" or hide the fact that you have epilepsy, it could wind up saving your life if people actually know that you suffer from seizures, especially if you have one they're not trying to misdiagnose you!

I'm sorry, I was totally caught off guard from that comment!

Common sense is not so common!

         That's not true. You have to be seizure free for five years without medication and you still have to tell them because if they find out you lied... The only place not telling about your epilepsy applies is certain states for your driver's license. The reason for the military denying epileplic personnel is they can not ensure that they can get medication to any personnal should they be deployed, even those deployed in the states, such as for disasters.

        I'm 17 and I was diagnosised with epilepsy after having my first seizure two and half years ago. I've been seizure free for a year. I wanted to join the military since just before I started having seizures but I, too, thought I could never get in to any military. However, I did my research and I hope to speak to a recruiter soon to clarify if you have to be without medication for all five of those years or does the five years start when you are medication free. I don't see why it would be the latter but either way, at the latest, I could join after college and get money to pay my college loans. Now I'm planning on joining the national guard.

       It took some time but I realized that sometimes you have to wait. So I'm taking my medication, following a healthy diet, staying fit by military standards, and working on getting a high grade point average. I may not be able to join as soon as I want but I can be prepared to join when I can. That's all I can say to you. Even without epilepsy, people still aren't accepted for other reasons so instead of pouting and complaining and raling, I try to avoid any other reason for them to deny me later down the line.

I am a retired Navy Career Counselor Chief; a career recruiter for 9 years, forced to retire due to Epilepsy. I served more than 13 years and out of the blue I started having seizures. Due to my newly developed seizure disorder I was no longer eligible to serve in any compacity. It's true that if you're seizure free for 5 years, without medication for 5 years and without the diagnosis of E, you MAY be eligible with a medical waiver from BUMED IF it seems to be an isolated incident and with treatment records from your Neurologist clearing you of the diagnosis. If you've been dagnosed with E and on meds, there's no chance for a waiver and this goes for ALL branches of the military including the Natl. Guard, regardless if your seizure free or not. I'm sorry to be the barer of bad news, but I don't want someone filling your head with lies and crushing your hopes after 5 years of waiting. I'm still on the Temporary DIsabled Retired list until I'm able to permanently retire in 2013. I have to be evaluated every 18 months to see if I'm eligible for duty, but with Epilepsy it's just red tape until I can be placed on the PDRL. I would love to still be in the Navy, but God had other plans for me just as he does for you. Although you're not eligible to serve in the military, you can serve your country in many other ways. I commend your hard work and I wish you nothing but the best in your future.

Take Care and God Bless!

NCC Angela Powers, US Navy (Retired)

Thank you for being so honest Angela.  The statement from Joan really got me fired up after stating that one should "try to sneak in or hide the fact that they have E."  What happened to honesty's the best policy, that's how I live my life and from the sounds of it others need to also!!!  I also want to thank you about the National Guard part because that was the next step.  lol

Thank you again NCC Angela Powers!

Common sense is not so common!

I'm at USAFA right now, I'm a 2 degree, and just had my first seizure yesterday morning. Everything's still crazy right now with the doctors here just trying to figure out why it happened...I'm sure I'll have to go to some sort of medical review board.

Do you know what the rules are right now? Even if they do commission me, would this make me non-deployable? I understand the reasonings behind it...but that would be a huge bummer :(

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

I'm not in the US, but I can say the epilepsy and military ban is more or less global in the Western countries. It seems to be one of the exemptions to disability discimination laws.

Years ago (age 17) I was really keen on joining the navy to be part of the navy band. Back then women weren't even allowed to sea and definately couldn't be deployed in active service. I'd also been sz free for 2 years, was off meds and had just started driving, so there should'nt have been any issues but of course there were and the recruiter made that pretty clear. I was gutted at the time.

I can understand the military ban, overall there are just too many potential complications given the total unpredictablity of Ep. I don't like the idea of seizures and guns. But I do think non-deployment roles (ceremonial, desk jobs, military bands) should be allowed, but perhaps they don't like the idea of someone falling flat on their face during a somber rememberance service??


Can You do that? get in the military with epilepsy


No you can not get into any branch of the military after being diagnosed with epilepsy!  It's for your own good and safety.  I know the dissapointment, as I stated I tried to get into the Army and I couldn't, now my son has tried all branches and just for the record (my son is not hiding the fact that he has E. nor is he trying to "sneak" in to the Navy, WTF")  Stay on the right track in life, go to college for something that you like to do and are good at or go for something that you've always dreamed of.  Only you can make your dreams come true!  Good luck to you my friend!

I found this while surfing the web, and thought I'd weigh in.

I'm 24 years old. I had a handful of seizures from the time I was 13 to the time I was about 18. It's been a little over six years since my last seizure, and I've been off medications the entire time. My neurologist told me it wasn't unusual for kids to grow out of their seizures (I think he called it Rolandic or Childhood Epilepsy, something like that)

Over the past six or seven months, I've been going through the process of working with a recruiter to join the Army. It's been a trying experience. I had to get all of my medical history, go back to my neurologist and get him to write a letter stating that I had been seizure free and off meds for more then 5 years, and then had to get an EEG. (The results, as expected, were normal). 

So after all that, last week I went into MEPS, did all the tests (found out I was slightly nearsighted, evidently), and found out I'd need a waiver for the seizures, which wasn't surprising. It turned out too that I was *1* pound over the weight limit, so I can't even apply for the waiver until I go back the first week of August. 

So now I wait. My recruiter thinks my chances are pretty good, since I've got a bachelor's degree and scored a 94 on the ASVAB. My medical records arn't 100% complete - evidently the insurance company lost some of them - and that's my biggest concern. 

But after all the crap I've been through - endless amounts of paperwork and bureacracy - I'm not gonna get upset if I get denied. It's the military's loss, as far as I'm concerned. I met their requirements (5 years, normal EEG), and that's all I can do. 

The only thing that bothers me is that  there are kids with drug convictions, DUI's, and other crap that can get in, but I might get denied because of a childhood thing that no longer afflicts me. 

Anyway, just wanted to get that off my chest.

You can get into the U.S. military with epilepsy. You have to be seizure free for five years without medications. I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was about 13 and I have always wanted to serve my country. I recently took an EEG which was normal, now all I have to do is wait five years and I will be able to join the army. To all those like me who wish to serve their country, it is possible. I was told by doctors and even members of my own family that I would never join the military. It is possible, never give up hope, I havent, and on January 5, 2016, it will enlist (if all goes well).

With all due respect, no you can't. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I recruited for over 9 years. I was forced to retire after 13 years due to a diagnosis of Epilepsy. Is it true you can join after an isolated seizure, "without" the diagnosis of Epilepsy? Yes. However, you must be seizure free for 5 years, "without" medication. If the diagnosis is present (whether active or inactive) and you've had more than one "unprovoked" seizure, then I'm sorry hun, you won't be eligible.

I wish it weren't true, but with a diagnosis of E, you and I both know our future is uncertain in regard to how long we'll stay seizure free. You could be seizure free for 5 and a half years, then out of the blue another seizure strikes. We're a liability, not just for our own safety, but for the safety of others. You have to abide by the driving laws in the state in which you reside (stationed). The military cannot be responsible for supervising you (medically and on a daily 24/7 basis) or drive you to work every day until you're seizure free for the period of time required by the state. It's unfortunate; it took me a long time to come to terms with it. I've been retired for almost 3 years now and there's not a day that goes by I don't miss it. Believe me, if there was a way that I could still be active, I would be. I was a Chief (E7) in the Navy, please understand - if the Army recruiter said you were eligible with a diagnosis of E, he's wrong. I won't jump on the bandwagon and say he lied, but maybe he misunderstood.

I keep in close contact with a lot of my Navy friends. I'll email one of the Master Chief's I used to work with to see if anything's changed (He's the Chief Recruiter of his entire District), but I highly doubt it. If that were the case, I would have been able to stay and finish my 20 years.

Please don't think I'm trying to be mean; that's not my intention. I just don't want you to get your hopes up - go thru the entire process just to be rejected during the medical portion of the exam.


I am sorry to tell you this but you are automatically disqualified. You have to be epileptic free for 5 years without medication before entering into military. Try to imagine that you did get in military schools for boys somehow, and then later on found
yourself in a situation that could result in injury or death to you or
others. This is why the
military won't accept people with epilepsy.

Thank you! I don't understand why some recruiters give these kids false hope. It kills me! As a Career Recruiter and Station Commander, I made sure my guys knew the regulations and if they didn't know, they knew where to look. Some recruiters misunderstand the situation and in some cases the kids don't tell the "whole" truth. It doesn't matter what they say, it all boils down to medical records. Then MEPS will send the kid for another series of testing and make him/her see a MEPS Neuro or a contracted referral. We all know a diagnosis of E is uncertain - we could be seizure free 10+ years then BAM, seizures start up again. Not to mention, a military environment in itself is very stressful; especially for the new guys. That kind of environment could push the start-up button for seizures all over again.

I was in the perfection of health when I joined the Navy in 95 - I had never really been sick a day in my life. Then months before my 30th birthday and 13 years service, I was diagnosed with Adult Onset Epilepsy with unknown etiology. I was forced to medically retire in 2008. I've told this story over and over, yet kids still think they can "beat the system". It's horrible and I hate it for them, but there are so many other ways for them to serve their country. I miss the Navy every day, but I know I'm a safety risk and could never perform the duties I once did or at the same level.

It enraged me when recruitors would tell my son to lie to get into the military.  I had to make my son understand how lying was not a good way to go.  IF you are seizure free 5 years and off meds for 5 years, you may apply.  Doesnt mean they will take you.  If your plan is military or police please have a backup plan as it is unlikely to happen.


I wish you all well.

joan* Son lamictal 200 2x   21 Grand Mals-Stable Daughter keppra 500 18 - on MAD **stable* Both had first issues at 15 - Both JME - gotta love puberty : ) * Both dealing with the nuances that

Military Enlistment rules change all the time, I I had 2 seizures one in 8th grade and one in 10th grade I have been out of school for 9 years and stopped taking my meds almost directly after my second seizure due to the effects it had on me during class, but thats not the point I was allowed to join the Navy back in 2005 I received a waiver for my seizures. It can happen!!! I am proof, now one thing I can tell you is that I tried the Air Force, then Army and then the Navy denied twice and I guess 3rd times was the charm. I did what the recruited told me med records, an EEG and CT scan of my head. The EEG came back normal and the CT scan showed some gray matter but I had an answer the very next day after going to MEPS. I can't say this is going to be the case for everyone, but there is no hurt in trying. One thing I can say for sure is that if you are serious about it then make sure you have all your information in order and a strong letter saying that you are good to go. I would recommend going to the doctor that you are most familiar with to get this letter since they'll know your case the best.

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