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Military Law Disqualifications

The military has strict character and moral standards that applicants should be aware of before seeking to join a branch of the armed forces. Applicants will be initially screened by the recruiter and questioned about their background at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). A criminal background check and sometimes a credit check will be performed at the MEPS. While some types of criminal activity appearing on the background check automatically disqualifies an applicant during the initial interview, some cases will require special review to determine fitness by the military. Conviction of a serious crime is likely to disqualify an applicant. Applicants with any kind of a criminal history are not likely to be eligible for military jobs that require any kind of a security clearance. Serious financial problems may also disqualify an applicant from eligibility for enlistment in the military.

Applicants shouldn't be discouraged from applying automatically; legal and financial problems can be approved with a waiver by the military, but you have to discuss the issues with your recruiter at your initial meeting. Being dishonest at all about things in your past will not improve your chances of being approved. There is no penalty at all for disclosing events in your past to the recruiter and everything you say will be kept confidential. Applicants should, however, be aware of certain potentially disqualifying legal situations before taking the time to apply for service with the military.

The military has officially stated that "persons entering the Armed Forces should be of good moral character. The underlying purpose of moral enlistment standards is to minimize entrance of persons who are likely to become disciplinary cases or security risks or who disrupt good order, morale, and discipline." Obviously some criminal or financial problems are more applicable to what the military considers "good moral character" than others. The military explicitly says that moral enlistment standards are designed to immediately disqualify applicants that are currently on bond, probation, parole, imprisoned, or people with "significant criminal records." But even applicants with a felony record are able to request waivers for approval for enlistment in the Armed Forces. The waiver procedure for granting exceptions to those applicants with criminal and/or financial record issues are handled on a case by case basis. When considering granting a waiver to an applicant, the military evaluates whether or not the applicant has demonstrated an ability to adjust to civilian life and reform successfully after the criminal incident. During this process, an applicant will have to disclose all the details surrounding and leading up to the criminal incident. An applicant will have to recount all the basic 'who, what, where, when, and why' details about the incident in question, as well as provide letters of recommendation specifically addressing the applicant's character and suitability for service. The best letters of recommendations come from respected community figures, school officials, clergy, and law enforcement or other military personnel.

Issues involving Civil Court will require a waiver if the applicant has: Received a civil court conviction or adverse disposition for six or more minor traffic offenses where the fine was $100 or more, three or more civil convictions or other adverse dispositions for minor nontraffic offenses, has received between two and four civil convictions or other adverse dispositions for a misdemeanor offense, has a DUI or DWI conviction, or any other offense where the applicant was ordered to pay a fine of more than $100. Any offense where confinement was ordered by a judge will require a waiver, as well as any offense not disposed of with a "not guilty" verdict involving "contributing to the delinquency of a minor, spouse or child abuse and any sex related crime, and any offense under chapter 4 that is listed as a misdemeanor."

There are also certain kinds of disqualifications for a felony or a DUI / DWI conviction that will require special approval. The most important thing to do is to talk to your recruiter and be honest about any legal or financial problems you've had in the past. It will save you and the military a lot of unnecessary grief and wasted time.

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