For civilian medical care providers:
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 can be difficult to find. In many cases, civilian evaluation may be the only way to ensure that a patient’s needs are considered.
Civilian evaluation can be used to provide evidence of a patient’s medical or psychiatric condition. However an evaluation will not be protected by patient/doctor privilege once it has been submitted to the military. Anything said may be used as evidence against the patient. For example, discussion of illegal drug use could result in criminal prosecution for the military patient.
It is unnecessary for civilian medical provider to spend time on legal technicalities. A knowledgeable GI Rights counselor or attorney can review any letter. 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 sometimes an important step toward return to military jurisdiction. The risk of civilain providers being forced to attend hearings or trials is virtually nonexistent.