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#47570 - Fri Sep 05 2008 09:33 AM Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver??
loki01 Offline
New Member

Registered: Wed Sep 03 2008
Posts: 3
Ok, so I've searched this site pretty thoroughly and I have also read a bunch of AF Regs regarding my upcoming question. Additionally I have had conversations with various AF contacts in and out of PJ's and in and out of recruiting including active duty, ANG and AFRC. But I have been given just about as many answers as I have had conversations. So here it goes...

I am 27 yrs old w/ 6 years in the ANG as Security Forces (been out 3 years this Dec). I have had 2 micro-discectomies for herniated disc L4/L5 and L5/S1. (I have not lost any mobility or strength due to injuries and currently have the ability to pass the PAST) I have been told from AD PJ's that this wouldn't be a problem where I have also read that that type of surgery can this be waived. But on the flip side I have heard from ANG, AD, and AFRC people that I would not be able to get a waiver, either b/c I've had 2 of these surgeries or because of the surgeries in general. I've even been told that I wouldn't even be able to get back in for any AFSC let alone PJ's. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated!!!

To be clearer:
1. Would these surgeries keep me out of Pararescue?
2. Would these surgeries keep me from gaining a class III for any AFSC?
3. Would these surgeries keep me from going back into the Air Force (military in general whether active or guard/reserve?

I do apologize if these answers are on this site, but to date I have been unable to get any definitive answers. Thank you for being so generous with your time with regards to this site, and for your service to the country.
_________________________
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. -Edmund Burke

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#47592 - Sat Sep 06 2008 13:21 PM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: loki01]
TE Offline
Operator

Registered: Thu Oct 17 2002
Posts: 4128
Loc: Various
This is from AFI 48-123 Volume 2 and 3 as disqualifying

For entry into the AF:

A3.26.7. Current herniated nucleus pulposus (722) or history of surgery to correct is disqualifying.

Continuted service in aviator/special operational duty:

A4.27.1.7. History of frank herniated nucleus pulposus, or history of surgery or chemonucleolysis for that condition.

Most guys think the rules are the same for those that enter the Air Force and those that are already in. Waivers can be approved for "trained aviators/special operational duty" personnel, but as seen above, it's disqualifying for persons entering the Air Force.

Now...you being prior service could be a factor but I doubt it because you did not hold a trained aviator/special operational duty type AFSC.

You can read for yourself on the AF e-publishing web site

http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/

Click on departmental, then the 48 (Medical) series AFIs.

_________________________
TE
Pararescueman (Ret)/Webmaster/Administrator/RKC
The real test comes when all strength has fled, and men must produce victory on will alone...

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#47616 - Mon Sep 08 2008 04:11 AM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: TE]
loki01 Offline
New Member

Registered: Wed Sep 03 2008
Posts: 3
TE,

Thank you for the information. Unfortunately it wasn't what I was hoping for, but than that's the way life goes sometimes. Armed with this info I still plan on pursuing this a little further, just so I know I exhausted all possibilities and will know I did all I could. But at least now I'm more prepared for the worst case/most probable outcome.

I appreciate your time in helping me (and others like me) with this, and I'll let you know if by some extraordinary set of circumstances I can manage a legitimate way back in…

Sincerely,

Mike
_________________________
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. -Edmund Burke

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#49854 - Sat Mar 28 2009 18:03 PM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: loki01]
mlhogg Offline
New Member

Registered: Sat May 01 2004
Posts: 53
Loc: Texas
I know this post is old, but for future use here is the waiver guide I found for this problem. I have the same concerns too. I had surgery for a herniated disc (No hardware, No Fusion) and was once declined for the initial FC1 for flying duty, after I had my pilot slot. It seems that waivers are available.... Start at page 245.

http://aviationmedicine.com/resources/files/PDF/VFS_attachments_07/USAF%20Wavier%20Guide%20PDF.pdf

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#49857 - Sat Mar 28 2009 20:05 PM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: mlhogg]
Yukon Online
Operator

Registered: Wed Mar 14 2001
Posts: 1963
Loc: Anchorage AK, USA
Cover page of guide states the following:
Quote:
“This document primarily provides guidance for waivers on trained flying class II and III personnel, and where specifically stated applies to flying class I/IA applicants and other special duty personnel. This waiver guide does not cover general military entrance, commissioning, or enlistment.”
It does not specifically address herniated disc pertinent to someone not already performing CCT/Pararescue duties. The text in red describes a significant exclusion population the waiver policy doesn't pertain to.

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#49859 - Sat Mar 28 2009 21:36 PM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: Yukon]
Yukon Online
Operator

Registered: Wed Mar 14 2001
Posts: 1963
Loc: Anchorage AK, USA
FYI:

Quote:
This document primarily provides guidance for waivers on trained flying class II and III personnel, and where specifically stated applies to flying class I/IA applicants and other special duty personnel.
The requirements to pass an initial Air Force Flight Class III physical are more stringent than the subsequent annual physicals. The usage of—“for-waivers-on-trained” —means the initial flight Class physical was passed with no medically disqualifying conditions found and you have completed all required qualifying training to perform duties in a flying or special duty position and have been performing these duties until a medical disqualifying condition is found. You are now in situation or circumstances of obtaining an initial waiver in order to pass a flying class physical this policy is concerned with.

The initial entry Flying Class III examination standard for CCT and Pararescue includes specific spine examination requirements primarily associated with the performing of parachutist duties. The standard specifically states “a history of spinal fusion is disqualifying for any jump duty and is non-waiverable.” Any and all Musculoskeletal. Intervertebral disc disease with neurological deficit is disqualifying. Thus the specific disclosure— This waiver guide does not cover general military entrance, commissioning, or enlistment.”

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#49861 - Sun Mar 29 2009 07:45 AM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: Yukon]
mlhogg Offline
New Member

Registered: Sat May 01 2004
Posts: 53
Loc: Texas
Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification. I herniated a disc (No hardware, No fusion) in my back before entering the AF in 2006, but was still granted my commission. I was then DQ'd for initial FCI, II and III. However at the time the flight doc said I could "probably" get a waiver for the FCIII. I'm still hoping that is the case today. I recently got an MRI which shows no new damage and I'm meeting with an ortho surgeon in a week to get an exam. I'm trying to get my stuff lined up for a waiver request.

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#49862 - Sun Mar 29 2009 10:36 AM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: mlhogg]
Yukon Online
Operator

Registered: Wed Mar 14 2001
Posts: 1963
Loc: Anchorage AK, USA
Unfortunately the spine and especially lumbar portion of the spine has significant function purpose pertinent to weight bearing and absorbing force. The weight bearing of concern for example is the weight of the ruck you are carrying on your back. The absorbing force concern for example is the forces encountered in doing a combat equipped parachute landing.

The cervical and lumbar are the more moving sections of the spine and the lumbar is most involved with bending, lifting, carrying. Lumbar disc problems are the most associated cause with weight bearing low back pain.

The initial medical examination standards to become medically qualified prior to qualify to train for PJ/CCT is a bit more stringent than the FAA Class III or the Air Force military Class III because of the parachutist and other physically involved duties involved. There are additional miscellaneous category medical standards added to the Class III for this reason and consequently there are medical conditions that may be waiverable under Class III but are not under medical standards for the miscellaneous categories that are added to the Class III for the Pararescue/CTT specialty classification process and training concerns.

Pertinent to this HQ AETC/SGPS is sole certification and waiver authority for applicants applying for the Combat Control, Combat Rescue Officer or Pararescue Duty career fields. Trying to enlist in Air Guard will not circumvent the sole certification and waiver authority.

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#49864 - Sun Mar 29 2009 16:50 PM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: Yukon]
mlhogg Offline
New Member

Registered: Sat May 01 2004
Posts: 53
Loc: Texas
Yeah, I've been down the road before with the FC1. The thing is, since that surgery in 2004 I've gone on to sky dive, climb mountains ( I actually summited Mt. Rainier last year in April) and fly airplanes which is my current job. I'm in better shape now then I ever have been, and furthermore my back hasn't gotten any worse then when I had the surgery. Is it your impression that a guard unit wouldn't work with me on obtaining a waiver? I realize you don't speak for them, just trying to get a sense of reality. I will press on until all doors have been closed.

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#49867 - Sun Mar 29 2009 18:43 PM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: mlhogg]
Yukon Online
Operator

Registered: Wed Mar 14 2001
Posts: 1963
Loc: Anchorage AK, USA
Originally Posted By: mlhogg
Is it your impression that a guard unit wouldn't work with me on obtaining a waiver?
I'm not suggesting or implying anything about how likely any Air Guard unit may or may not work with you. They have little to do with influencing the waiver approval for a disqualifying medical condition anyway.

What I am more than suggesting is--“I'm in better shape now then I ever have been, and furthermore my back hasn't gotten any worse then when I had the surgery.—means very little relevance to meeting the standards. It is not your opinion that counts, it is not the medical diagnosis of any civilian doctor you hire that counts, it is not how much you sky dive, climb mountains you climb or whatever you imagine proves you are medically fit to do the job that counts. HQ AETC/SGPS is sole certification and waiver authority.

This means the examination to determine your fitness will either be done by MEPs physicians or physicians that, HQ AETC/SGPS will direct to do the examination and evaluation. This might be the Flight surgeon or other physician directly connected to the Guard unit or not. Bottom-line, who does it is not your choice.

The only approve/disapprove recommendation that counts is the examining physician that is directed by HQ AETC/SGPS to do the examination and evaluation and HQ AETC/SGPS decision after review of the medical evidence if it is something that is waiverable or not.

Neither am I suggesting you should not press on until all doors have been closed. I am suggesting some doors have none or very little of the imagined ability behind them to help you even if you do open them.

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#49868 - Mon Mar 30 2009 07:33 AM Re: Multiple back surgeries/able to get waiver?? [Re: Yukon]
mlhogg Offline
New Member

Registered: Sat May 01 2004
Posts: 53
Loc: Texas
Ok. Thanks again for the information.

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