PDA

View Full Version : Screwed by med waivers, 11B to SFAS?


furry
07-21-2010, 01:51
Finished law school in May, taking the Colorado Bar Exam next week. I was all squared away to sign a Rep63 contract with the 19th here in the Front Range. Went into MEPS a few weeks ago and discovered that despite a thumbs up from the ortho consult and assurance from the MEPS doctor that my waivers would be "a slam dunk," my previous ankle, knee and shoulder surgeries will all require waivers, no two ways about it.

As many of you may be aware, right now there is apparently no way to get an Airborne contract with a med waiver, so my plans of a Rep63/18x are out. Frustrating to say the least.

My recruiter is telling me I could sign up as an 11B, and once I got back from Basic/AIT they would virtually guarantee me (although not in writing of course) a transfer into the training detachment and then an SFAS date as soon as possible - which he predicted to be anywhere from 3-9ish months. He understands my reservations about going this route, and to his credit I don't feel any pressure from him to just sign up for whatever I can get.

Basically my question is this: to those of you out there with the applicable experience, does this sound like a realistic and optimal route to pursue from my current situation?

I was told a similar story by an active duty recruiter, who said I could go in as an 11B, contact an SF recruiter while still in Basic/AIT, and possibly get orders to Airborne and SFAS before even being done with training. My concerns about this avenue were validated by others and I was advised against it.

Another possibility is to reconsider JAG. I had a Marine JAG contract last year but felt SOF was more up my alley, so to speak. If I were to put in a few years as a JAG, are JAG officers eligible to attend SFAS and lead an ODA?

Thanks for reading, a bit lengthy I know, but wisdom from guys who have been there, done that, and seen it all is invaluable.

Irishsquid
07-21-2010, 02:28
I joined the Guard on med waivers for knee injuries. Joined SPT/2/20th SFG(A), took me about 4 months to secure a transfer to B/1/20th SFG(A). No problems on the SF physical. Alas, my wife's student loans got called in, and I can't afford to get activated, so I had to leave the unit. I take it as a compliment, though, that I was told I am "always welcome back." I figure a year to straighten out the finance stuff, and get her student loans paid...that'll put me at my ETS date, and I'll get out for a week...re-join B/1/20 as a TX resident and get my Hazlewood Act benefits too. Thing that really surprised me is how much my wife fought against me leaving 20th Group. I transferred into 1/143rd Infantry (Airborne), TX ARNG. I figure, if nothing else, I need the experience as a troop leader anyway, and so far, it's a very squared-away unit. I was also very up-front with them about my intention to get out next year and go back to my old unit. They were still happy as hell to have an 11B NCO come in...I've been helping to train the HHC guys, and I'm really enjoying the teaching.

six:eight
07-21-2010, 04:41
PM Inbound.

koz
07-21-2010, 08:18
I had a JAG officer on my Phase 1 (SUT/NAV) team. He was also Ranger qualified. If you do go the JAG route, I would certainly think about getting a Ranger school slot before SFAS/SFQC. It will certainly help to have some Infantry background.

exsquid
07-21-2010, 09:20
If you go the 11B route, try to get a "stability" contract to ensure you don't get mobilized before you get a chance to go to SFAS.

x/S

craigepo
07-21-2010, 09:58
It is helpful when coming in to SF to have good military experience; not mandatory anymore, but helpful nonetheless. There are a lot of guys that started off in the Ranger Regiment, 82nd, 101st, etc., that learned a lot about soldiering before they showed up at SFAS.

That "soldiering" is a lot of what you will teach if you make it to a team. We talk a lot on this site about a lot of cool-guy stuff; HALO jumping from the space shuttle, clearing buildings with new laser guns, etcetera. However, there is a ton of stuff that must be 2nd nature before you get there---troop leading, functions checks, putting a platoon into a patrol base, call for fire, sticking an IV. This list is endless.

You will not learn this stuff in law school, or from a book/blog. You will learn it, well, if you have a good, crusty infantry/airborne/ranger squad leader stomping on your ass when you screw up.

Koz's statement about Ranger school is sage advice. Heed it.

The Reaper
07-21-2010, 12:26
I don't think you are being screwed.

I think the Army is trying to keep people with potential med problems (in your case, multiple) off of ODAs, which is, IMHO, a good thing.

Actions have consequences. It is called Special Forces for a reason.

If you had done your research here, you would have seen that explanation on several threads.

If you want it bad enough, and you are sufficiently confident in yourself, why not join the Army and work your way into SF, after proving yourself to be fit and a good soldier?

TR

six:eight
07-21-2010, 13:05
Why not, I'll share publicly.

Ran into a similar situation with the CONG. At MEPS I could not get my security clearance approved due to a foreclosure. I was told if I waited a month it would be "off the books" and I could enlist into the 19th.

I called my recruiter and he said he could get me in that day as an 11c. I could get some experience (I am former Navy) and if I excelled I could possibly get Airborne and Ranger school. Regardless, I also got a verbal commitment to be pulled over for a chance.

My thought process:

Going to have to enlist to reach my goals. Why not now?
Experience is always a good thing. Even if it is bad (usually that is when I've learned the most).
If I can't excel in the Big Army, what makes me think I am SF material?

I did it. I consider it my "try out" for a try out.

As a side note I attended my reception drill two weeks ago and was thoroughly impressed with the CONG. It is a growing organization with some good people that seem to care about the soldiers. So no matter what happens, I feel I have made a good choice.

You make the call...

furry
07-21-2010, 14:17
Thanks for the response, guys, good stuff.

x/S: That's a good heads up on the stability contract. I hadn't even heard of such a thing, but I'll certainly look into it now.

koz & craig: I agree on the soldiering experience, which is why I was surprised initially that JAGs could attend SFAS at all, particularly since Army, Navy, and AF JAGs are restricted line officers. The reason I had planned on Marine JAG was precisely because their lawyers are unrestricted line officers - they get the entire OCS and TBS along with everyone else. Part of that whole "every Marine is a rifleman" thing. Obviously not the same as actually leading an infantry unit downrange, but perhaps better than nothing. If considering this route would going outside the Army to be a Marine JAG, with the consideration of coming back to SF when eligible, be more of a burden than its worth?

TR: I agree, the Army has an interest in ensuring their personnel are physically capable of performing the function they join for. Conversely, this interest is balanced against the interest in recruiting folks who have valuable life experience and skills to bring to the table. There will always be benefits and detriments to such a tension; hopefully it works to their benefit more than the latter from a holistic standpoint. All I can say is from my own anecdotal experience, and that of a few peers, these strict regulations are costing our military some individuals who bring not only potential but the aforementioned skills and experience. It seems that in its present state the military would prefer a chubby 18 year old kid who never strayed from the couch to a more seasoned guy who has done some things at the cost of a few bumps and bruises.

There will always be pros and cons to any policy, and striking the proper balance is a terribly difficult thing. Perhaps the current system does strike the optimal balance. All I can say is I know a number of very capable men who would like to serve their country but whose efforts have been frustrated by the medical process.

The Reaper
07-21-2010, 15:12
TR: I agree, the Army has an interest in ensuring their personnel are physically capable of performing the function they join for. Conversely, this interest is balanced against the interest in recruiting folks who have valuable life experience and skills to bring to the table. There will always be benefits and detriments to such a tension; hopefully it works to their benefit more than the latter from a holistic standpoint. All I can say is from my own anecdotal experience, and that of a few peers, these strict regulations are costing our military some individuals who bring not only potential but the aforementioned skills and experience. It seems that in its present state the military would prefer a chubby 18 year old kid who never strayed from the couch to a more seasoned guy who has done some things at the cost of a few bumps and bruises.

There will always be pros and cons to any policy, and striking the proper balance is a terribly difficult thing. Perhaps the current system does strike the optimal balance. All I can say is I know a number of very capable men who would like to serve their country but whose efforts have been frustrated by the medical process.

Sorry to disagree with you and your learned peers, but based upon my admittedly limited 25 years in SF, I would say that I would rather take someone who is physically fit, or take no one at all, to having someone with a physical weakness that fails and makes them a burden to their teammates in the middle of a firefight at 15,000' in the Hindu Kush.

The strict regulations are there for a reason, and had you done your homework here, you would have read numerous examples of us discussing this with everyone from the nearly blind, to color blind, to deaf, to ancient, to broke, just for starters.

I do not want to write a letter to Mrs. Jones saying that her son or husband died trying to help someone who should not have been here in the first place, but who convinced a doctor to sign off on a piece of paper saying he was GTG knowing he will never see the patient again or deal with the consequences. Better to go with nine or ten healthy guys I can trust and who are whole than 12 with question marks among them.

Since I am not a doctor, I would leave the medical decisions on what is waiverable and what is not to them, rather than to the recruiters or individuals who refuse to accept that they are limited physically.

Frankly, it is easier to get the couch potato into shape than it is to take the chance on a broken part failing again after it has been cobbled back together. And trust me, I have broken some parts before. Those who earn the Tab will subject their bodies to serious physical stress over their careers that will break down even healthy bones and joints.

In the interim, if I were a commander, I would consider a waiver for someone who had spent a few years being a good strong combat arms soldier without any contraindications or recurring physical problems BEFORE I let them into SF.

Best of luck.

TR

CSB
07-21-2010, 18:26
Perhaps in the "olden days" when SF was an ASI and officers of many branches wore the green beret, the idea of "SF vs. JAG ... why not both?" was possible.

But today SF is a branch. And JAG is another branch.
One is combat, one is combat service support.

Each has roles and missions; each has physical, medical, and educational requirements.

It's like saying "I want to be a lawyer ... and a helicopter pilot." Well, you can't be both to any good effect. There are no dockets in the landing pattern, and no cyclic and collective in the courtroom. Your training, physical and mental requirements, missions, equipment, and career path are all different.

Pick one, and excell.

alright4u
07-22-2010, 07:25
Finished law school in May, taking the Colorado Bar Exam next week. I was all squared away to sign a Rep63 contract with the 19th here in the Front Range. Went into MEPS a few weeks ago and discovered that despite a thumbs up from the ortho consult and assurance from the MEPS doctor that my waivers would be "a slam dunk," my previous ankle, knee and shoulder surgeries will all require waivers, no two ways about it.

As many of you may be aware, right now there is apparently no way to get an Airborne contract with a med waiver, so my plans of a Rep63/18x are out. Frustrating to say the least.

My recruiter is telling me I could sign up as an 11B, and once I got back from Basic/AIT they would virtually guarantee me (although not in writing of course) a transfer into the training detachment and then an SFAS date as soon as possible - which he predicted to be anywhere from 3-9ish months. He understands my reservations about going this route, and to his credit I don't feel any pressure from him to just sign up for whatever I can get.

Basically my question is this: to those of you out there with the applicable experience, does this sound like a realistic and optimal route to pursue from my current situation?

I was told a similar story by an active duty recruiter, who said I could go in as an 11B, contact an SF recruiter while still in Basic/AIT, and possibly get orders to Airborne and SFAS before even being done with training. My concerns about this avenue were validated by others and I was advised against it.

Another possibility is to reconsider JAG. I had a Marine JAG contract last year but felt SOF was more up my alley, so to speak. If I were to put in a few years as a JAG, are JAG officers eligible to attend SFAS and lead an ODA?

Thanks for reading, a bit lengthy I know, but wisdom from guys who have been there, done that, and seen it all is invaluable.

Why not serve as a JAG officer? Hell, my biggest regret in life was not being an attorney.

furry
07-22-2010, 12:20
Why not serve as a JAG officer? Hell, my biggest regret in life was not being an attorney.

Haha, true enough. The grass is always greener, eh? I suppose I just feel more presently drawn to SOF, plus if I were to consider JAG later it seems some boots on the ground experience would be helpful. I mean sure, I've sat in a classroom and debated the Law of Armed Conflict, Use of Force, etc. but the guys who have been there always have a grounding perspective cemented in reality.

CSB: Excellent point. Well taken. But does this mean I won't be able to be an astronaut either? Damn.

Since I am not a doctor, I would leave the medical decisions on what is waiverable and what is not to them, rather than to the recruiters or individuals who refuse to accept that they are limited physically.

Absolutely, I'm referring to guys (such as myself) who have been given the GTG by every medical professional, but are held back by the strict application of a uniform standard. For example, I went to law school with a young man who was fixated on becoming a Marine JAG. He is attending a Top 14 law school, just received the Scottish equivalent of the Fulbright scholarship, and was a Division 1 baseball player. Like many baseball players he'd had some shoulder work, but he's been good to go for years and can pretty much max out the Marine PFT (that means 20+ pullups). The Marine Corps told him last year that, at present, it wasn't even worth trying because the medical process would be nearly insurmountable.

Anyways, sorry for the digression a bit off topic. But yes, I wholeheartedly agree we shouldn't be making compromises that affect readiness or capability in the field. Rather I'm suggesting perhaps an avenue that allows the medical professionals to exercise their expert opinion in discretion of who is phsycially fit or not, instead of being dictated by a binder. Who knows, this stuff will always be debated and someone will always be unhappy on either side.

The Reaper
07-22-2010, 13:11
True, but much as with lawyers, I don't care what your doc says, I only care what mine is telling me.

TR