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Can military physical fitness determinations be challenged?

The skills of a military lawyer may be needed in instances other than a court martial. In fact, they might be helpful in pursuing a promotion, as in today’s story. 

A reservist with the U.S. Army who has been enlisted since 2010 is challenging a denied officer commission. The denial may have been particularly hard to accept since it came two months after the reservist had received his selection notification. To be precise, the offer was voided on medical grounds. According to the medical fitness determination made by the Army Human Resources Command, the reservist is ineligible because two of his spinal vertebrae are fused together from an old surgery.

The reservist requested a waiver of the determination, which was denied. He has now hired a lawyer. Notably, the reservist informed the Army of the condition when he enlisted in 2010. He passed the entrance physical without incident, even earning perfect scores on fitness tests. He remains enlisted, which means he is deployable. 

However, his spinal fusion condition apparently does not meet the commissioning requirements to be an officer. According to an Army spokesman, the commission requirements are different than the retention requirements.

Unfortunately, physical fitness determinations can greatly affect one’s military salary and other benefits. Our law firm focuses on military law, including Physical Evaluation Board reviews. We have seen the impact that a negative review can make upon a service member’s military career. We work with clients to pursue all available appeals, possibly utilizing even the testimony of a superior officer or someone higher up in the chain of command. 

Source: Army Times, “Enlisted soldier fights Army over denied commission,” Kevin Lilley, Nov. 19, 2015

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