A lot of people have been asking me how my recent diagnosis will affect my military service. I’ve been really nervous about it too, to be honest.
Since I joined the military in 2010, I’ve had my heart set on being an officer. I finally earned my bachelor’s degree in meteorology last year and have been talking to recruiters about applying for Officer Candidate School since. The board was set to meet this month to determine which applicants would be selected to commission. I had everything ready to go including letters of recommendation from previous employers, commanders, and supervisors. My recruiter warned me that it was going to be very competitive to get a reserve officer slot without a master’s degree, but I was hopeful and excited for the chance.
After I received my cancer diagnosis, I knew I had to update my recruiter. He told me I’m no longer qualified to submit a package because there’s no way I’d pass the medical and physical requirements. I was crushed. He remained optimistic on the phone and cheerfully said, ‘there’s always next year!” Next year?! I have to wait another whole year to try again? He also told me he’s never even seen anyone come back into the military after getting medically disqualified to serve so the chance of me not only getting back in, but to also try to commission was was slim. He said it’s not impossible, but he urged me to do everything I could to stay in.
So now, not only was the possibility of my commissioning gone, but I realized I may not even be able to stay in the Navy at all!
At this point, the bad news just kept piling up and it was starting to weigh me down. All of these goals that I’ve had for myself were starting to seem out of reach.
I got in contact with my unit and the Navy medical staff who helped me put together all of my medical records for my commander. I scheduled an interview with my CO and was really nervous about it. During the interview, he went over three different outcomes for my situation and explained that after he heard all of the details of my diagnosis, he would send a recommendation to the medical board who would then make the final decision. I was relieved when he decided he wanted me to stay in the Navy with a waiver to excuse me from duty while I’m going through treatments. Still, he doesn’t have the final say, but he was optimistic that the medical review board would agree with him.
Basically that means I’ll most likely get to continue in the reserves and eventually everything will resume back to normal. Great news!!
If all goes as planned, this will just be a small bump in the road for me and I’ll be sending in my application to become an officer by this time next year! Keep your fingers crossed for me!