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  • Captain Harper

How do I get medically qualified for OCS? What if I need a waiver?

Updated: Sep 8, 2021

Note: Because each applicant's situation is unique and recruiters are not medical professionals, this post will not advise whether or not a waiver would be granted for any specific condition. If you have questions about a medical condition, you must contact a recruiter.

There are two main pathways for applicants to get medically qualified for OCS: MEPS and DoDMERB. Both ultimately must be approved by an organization called BUMED. This post will give a general overview of each pathway, as well as the waiver process for an applicant who is applying for OCS through the Marine Officer Selection Program.

If you are currently a reservist in any military branch and have a current medical physical, you will not need to go through MEPS or DoDMERB again. You will skip straight to submitting your exam to BUMED for approval.

Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS)

This is the method typically used for officer applicants located within 50 miles of the nearest MEPS. Here you will be put through a battery of tests and examinations to ensure that you meet the standards required to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

Your OSA will handle all communications between you and MEPS. You will work with them to collect and complete all the required documents and set a date for your physical exam. While you are at MEPS, you will complete all the required tests and exams in one day. These tests include vision, hearing, blood and blood pressure tests, a pregnancy test (for women), an examination by a doctor, a height and weight check, urinalysis, breathalyzer and the ASVAB, if necessary. If you pass all of these tests and are found qualified at MEPS, you will be ready to submit for BUMED qualification.

Occasionally, an applicant may require a more in depth exam by an outside specialist, called a "consult". A consult will not occur on the same day as your MEPS physical. You will be temporarily disqualified until the doctors at MEPS can review the consult results. You will not be able to move forward in the medical qualification process until you complete the consult. It is usually very difficult to reschedule a consult so do not miss it.

Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DoDMERB)

This is the preferred method if you are located more than 50 miles away from your nearest MEPS but there are other instances where this method may be used. If you are using DoDMERB, you are responsible for scheduling your own exams and completing all of the required documentation so make sure you stay on top of things.

This pathway typically uses civilian doctors to perform physical exams that are then reported to DoDMERB through a web portal. The Board then reviews the applicant's medical history and examination results to render a determination as to whether an applicant is qualified. They may request additional tests, evaluations or information to assist in reaching their final determination.

Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED)

The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery is an agency of the United States Department of the Navy that manages health care activities for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. They are also the final waiver authority for OCS applicants.

Once you have been qualified by either MEPS or DoDMERB, your recruiter will submit your medical record to BUMED. Based on this record, the Chief Medical Officer will make a final determination on your medical qualification.


The Department of Defense determines the overall medical standards for the military in the Department of Defense Instruction 6130.08. If you have a medical condition that disqualifies you under this standard, you may still qualify for a waiver of the standard. This will require you to submit all available documentation to MEPS, DoDMERB and/or BUMED. There are two types of waivers: MEDREAD and BUMED.

In both instances, the applicant will be required to gather all medical records and documentation pertaining to their disqualifying condition. Your recruiter may be able to assist you in gathering these records, but due to privacy laws, you will have to do much of the leg work yourself. Ensure that your record is complete otherwise the reviewing doctor may require you to provide more documentation and delaying your application timeline.

For a MEDREAD, your medical documentation is submitted to MEPS for review. If approved, you will be allowed to schedule a physical. If you are disapproved, you will be required to request a BUMED waiver. The amount of time required to review your record is dependent on the number of pages submitted. If you have a lot of page to submit, you can expect to wait several weeks or more.

BUMED waivers apply when a person has been found disqualified by MEPS or DodMERB. All communications with BUMED will come in the form of a letter. If BUMED is willing to consider a waiver, they will request a MEPS physical. They will typically request additional records, tests and/or personal statements at the same time. Once they receive all the requested records and documentation, they will issue a final determination.

This process is highly dependent on both individual situations and the actions of outside agencies so it is easy to lose motivation and give up midway through but becoming a Marine Officer is more than just signing on a dotted line; it's a calling. It is a profession that requires women and men with the perseverance and determination to overcome any obstacle. If you think you meet this standard and want to become an officer in the Marines, check out the website below and request to speak to your local Officer Selection Officer, Captain Chad Harper



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