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Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:35 am
So you want to join the military but you have a criminal record. Don’t worry, your not alone! Many people with criminal records still want to serve our country and get their lives back on track. The good news is that yes, it is possible to join the military if you have a criminal record. However, there are some caveats. Let’s break it down.
Each branch of the military has the ability to grant waivers for people who want to enlist but have committed certain crimes. Basically, you apply and plead your case about why you should be allowed to join even though you have a record. There are no guarantees, but it’s definitely possible to get approved.
There are two main types of waivers:
The approval process considers the severity of your crime, how long ago it was, whether their were multiple offenses, your age at the time, and other mitigating factors. The military needs recruits but they don’t just take anyone.
Some crimes will immediately disqualify you from military service. These include:
For these type of serious felonies, you likely have no chance at a waiver. The military doesn’t mess around with those kind of crimes.
Many other crimes may make you ineligible initially, but can be waived so you can still join. These include:
The approval will depend on the specifics of your case. The military looks at how recent the crime was, your age, and whether you’ve stayed out of trouble since. Older offenses committed as a juvenile have a better chance.
Even if you’re eligible for a waiver, there are waiting periods before the military will approve your application. This allows you to prove you have been rehabilitated:
These waiting periods depend on having no other arrests or convictions. Any new trouble with the law resets the clock.
The Army and Marine Corps tend to be more lenient with waivers than the Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard. For example, the Marines approved more than 550 felon waivers in 2018. They need bodies!
That said, approval is never guaranteed. But if you want to join after committing certain crimes, the Army or Marines are your best bet.
If your waiver gets denied, you can appeal or reapply after some time has passed. Gather evidence of rehabilitation such as school transcripts, job history, character references or volunteer work. This shows you have changed and deserve a second chance.
Persistence and evidence of good behavior can help reverse a denial. But if they say no twice, it’s probably best to move on.
As you can see, it is possible to join the military with a criminal record if you get a waiver approved. The process considers the severity of the crime, your age at the time, and your subsequent behavior. While approval is never guaranteed, waivers allow people to move past youthful mistakes and serve their country. If that’s you, be honest, gather supporting evidence, and don’t give up!
Let me know if you have any other questions! I know the recruiting process inside and out so I’m happy to help.
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