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My daughter suffered from Epilipsy since she was 3 years old; she has been on remission for 3 years- no meds, no episodes. At 19, she is contemplating the idea of joining the Armed Forces to honor a tradition of Army Officers in the family. Will her past condition be a limitation for her joining the Armed Forces?


Prior to 1982, any history of seizures after age five was a complete bar to admission into any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. In 1982, the Department of Defense revised its regulations governing admission into the armed services. The regulations now state that an applicant will be considered on an individual basis if there has been no seizure recurrence since age five, or the applicant has been seizure-free without medication for the five years immediately prior to the application. The Air Force's medical standards for flying training, however, are more stringent. These disqualify anyone with any history of paroxysmal convulsive disorders, except that seizures associated with febrile illness before five years of age may be acceptable if the electroencephalogram is normal.

The requirement that the applicant be off medication is strictly applied. The military's reason for the 'no medication' rule is their concern about the availability of medication in other countries, coupled with the requirement of worldwide service, including areas where medical facilities are nonexistent or inadequately equipped to treat particular disorders.

People who have been denied entrance into the armed services based on their history of epilepsy may wish to protest their disqualification by writing to their elected officials as they may be in the best position to effect change.