I'm often asked about having ADHD in military service. As a doctor who treats ADHD, there is no simple yes or no answer, and there is a bit of grey area involved.
It used to be that ADD/ADHD was a disqualifying condition with respect to serving in the military, though some waivers were accepted.
Today, however, the general rule of thumb across most branches of the military is that ADHD is a disqualifying condition only if the applicant has taken ADHD medication within the past year, and/or the applicant demonstrates significant external behavioral ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity or impulsivity.
However, even if the applicant meets these disqualifying criteria, a waiver can be filed.
Often, a doctor is required to review the applicant's medical records for approval. It helps to have all medical records, diagnoses, assessments, treatment records, etc. in order to submit with your waiver or application.
Any treatment history, especially any treatment during the past three years, is important to reviewers, as is all ADHD medication records.
In addition, recruiters may also require academic transcripts to determine that an applicant's ADHD does not significantly impair learning. Just as important, applicants must meet the skills and aptitude requirements, and physical requirements, which are evaluated at the Military Entrance and Processing Station (MEPS).
For example, each applicant must pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which measures aptitude in different areas such as science, arithmetic, word knowledge, reading comprehension, auto and mechanical knowledge, electronics, etc. It helps the military measure applicants' skills to match with appropriate military jobs.
In addition, meeting physical standards involves receiving a physical and medical clearance from a military doctor, and being cleared for emotional and behavioral conditions.
In sum, there a bit of grey area with respect to having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in military service. It appears those with severe ADHD may have little chance, but for applicants with mild ADHD and those who have their ADHD under control, there may be some leeway with the recruiter.
Also, keep in mind that military recruiters have to meet monthly recruitment quotas and may grant applicants leeway depending on their quota status. So while it is possible to have ADHD in the military, the condition is often considered on a case-by-case basis.
The bottom line? If you wish to serve, discuss your situation honestly with a recruiter. They can help you meet your goal. Seek treatment in order to control your ADHD and maximize your chances of acceptance. If they still cannot accept you, it is helpful to have a back-up plan.