Can you join the military with a felony? The short answer is yes. A lot goes into enlisting a person with a felony record. First, each branch of service has different rules about what they can and cannot do to enlist somebody with a felony. To get the specifics you will need to speak with a recruiter. Here I just want to tell you how the process kind of works.
The first thing to think about is what you were actually charged with. The military doesn’t care too much about what you were convicted of, they want to see the original charges. The military kind of sets their own rules as to what a felony is and what’s not considered a felony. For example, a DUI in California might be a felony but in Arizona may be considered a misdemeanor. In order to keep things fair, they have their own outline and each recruiter has a list of what is considered felonies.
Next, chances are that you’re going to require a waiver. Each branch may handle waivers differently but there are a few things that you can count on having to do:
- Write/sign statements about what you did and lessons learned from it
- You will need character references. These cannot be family or friends so start looking for teachers, counselors, probation officer, or anybody like that who can write something good about you. Find at least three people but more doesn’t hurt!
- The military is going to investigate the hell out of you! They want to make sure that they are not going to have the same issues with you while serving so they will be contacting everybody that you put down as a reference
You need to understand and be okay with the fact that just because you submit a waiver doesn’t guarantee that it will be approved. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that the military assessed the risk and aren’t willing to take that risk. It’s no different than any other business. Needing a waiver means that you do not meet the enlistment qualifications are are asking them to make an exception to their policy.
Now that you know this, hopefully it gives you a better idea on if you should try to enlist. If you have any doubts then you definitely need to call a recruiter. Information changes all of the time so use this as a tool to help but the final word will always come from your recruiter. If you have any questions let us know!