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Military Career Options for Hearing Impaired Individuals

Congratulations on your ambition to serve your country in military service. Medical standards for military enlistment have been established to ensure that personnel entering the armed forces are, among other things, capable of performing duties without aggravation of existing medical conditions, free of conditions that would likely result in later separation for medical unfitness or require excessive time lost from duty for treatment, and were medically capable of completing required training. Actual determinations of medical fitness are determined at the time of enlistment by medical personnel at Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS). Military recruiters, who coordinate the details of military career choices, also arrange with MEPS personnel to conduct physical exams (including audiometric tests) and then determine if an applicants medical status meets requirements of a given job. As shown below, hearing test results need not be perfect. The current generalized hearing standards* used by MEPS physicians, when reviewing audiometric results, are:

The cause for rejection for appointment and enlistment is a hearing loss greater than:
  1. Pure tone threshold average (of 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz) not more than 30 dB (each ear), with no individual level greater than 35dB at these frequencies.
  2. Pure tone thresholds not more than 45 dB at 3000 Hz and 55 dB at 4000 Hz (each ear).

*Derived from Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 6130.3, Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, and Induction, and DOD Instruction 6130.4, Criteria and Procedure Requirements for Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Armed Forces.

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