You must pass a battery of tests in order to qualify for military service.
You must pass a battery of tests in order to qualify for military service.

If you're thinking about joining the military, your first stop after talking to a recruiter and signing up is the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). At MEPS, new enlistees are given an extensive physical and mental exam, as well as a background check, to determine if they are fit for active military service. There are a number of issues that will disqualify a person from military service. Each branch of the military has slightly different requirements, but the following conditions generally apply across the board. It is not an exhaustive list, but the most common disqualifiers of applicants.

Medical Disqualifications

There are a host of medical conditions that can disqualify a recruit from service. Recruits must meet minimum requirements for weight and body fat percentage, as well as pass vision and hearing tests. Pregnancy, contagious diseases, physical deformities and problems with internal organs are also disqualifying conditions. Others include a limited range of motion, severe dental problems and a history of bone fractures.

Many mental factors will also disqualify an applicant, including anxiety, neurosis and psychosis.

Legal Problems

The armed services are looking to enlist recruits of good moral character. While we all make mistakes in our lives, there are some legal issues that may keep you from serving. DUIs, felonies and certain civil court convictions or judicial restraints are prime examples. If you have any legal problems in your background, be upfront with the information when asked. They will find out about it, and the punishment for lying under oath can be severe.

Drugs and Alcohol

The physical portion of the MEPS exam includes blood and urine tests. Anyone testing positive for illegal substances or for alcohol will be disqualified. Presence of a controlled substance that doesn't have a doctor's approval will result in the same. Any evidence of alcohol or drug dependance, or documented past abuse, will also result in a disqualification.

ASVAB Test

The Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, is a mental aptitude and cognitive skills test that is administered by the armed services to all applicants. Many applicants take the test before ever reaching MEPS, but those who haven't will take it there. It's given in a multiple choice format, covering areas such as math, language, science and mechanical skills. You must achieve a minimum score on the test, or you will be disqualified from service.