Military personnel may need medical documentation to show the existence of a condition requiring discharge, the severity of the condition of a dependent, or mitigating circumstances for an unexcused absence. Although the military has its own health care system, individual and specialized attention is difficult to find. In many cases, your evaluation may be the only way to ensure that your patient’s needs are considered.
Your evaluation will be used to provide evidence of your patient’s medical or psychiatric condition. However, your evaluation will not be protected by patient/doctor privilege once it has been submitted. Anything you say may be used as evidence against the patient. For example, discussion of illegal drug use or homosexual acts (even before enlistment) could result in criminal prosecution for your client.
Nobody expects you to spend time on legal technicalities. Instead, a knowledgeable counselor or attorney should always review your letter. Submit your evaluation directly to the attorney or counselor, when possible.
It is perfectly legal to medically evaluate a member of the military – even when the member is absent without leave (AWOL). In fact, medical evaluation is a proper step toward return to military jurisdiction. The risk of being pulled away from your practice for hearings or trials is virtually nonexistent.