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ETP for minor back surgery-need some AETC help

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Thanks for reading!

I am an active duty Marine Special Operations Officer with Marine Special Operations Command.  I recently hit the lottery and got hired by an Air National Guard unit to go to flight school and fly jets for them.

The day before my flight physical Wright Patterson called to let me know I can't do the physical because I have a back surgery on my record.  In 2011 I was wounded twice in Afghanistan and had some minor surgeries to recover in the coming years, and one was a micro-discectomy L5-S1 and was back to full duty two months later.  I have done over two years of operations since the minor back surgery and multiple training and combat deployments.  I have a current Spec Ops physical and no waivers or hardware.

If anyone reading this works at AETC or knows someone who does or is involved in an exception to policy, I would appreciate any help you could provide.

I have read the air force order and know that back surgery is disqualifying/non-waiverable but also know where there is a will there is a way.  My hiring unit is putting in an exception to policy for the back surgery, and I want to try and do everything I can to make it succeed.  This blog is a long shot, but if anyone out there thinks they can help I'd love to talk to you.  I have given 10 years of ground/spec ops service and hope to continue to serve as a pilot if I can get past this minor back surgery.

Thank you for your time.

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I would suggest speaking with your new unit’s flight surgeon as they often have the inside track on the waiver process. I had a micro-discectomy about 10 years ago and have an indefinite waiver to allow me to continue to fly ejection seat aircraft, although I was already flying actively at the time of the surgery. What I’ve found is that once you can get through the door, there is almost nothing that can’t be waived if you’re persistent, patient, and find the right folks to advocate for you.

Good luck! Your unit will certainly benefit from your background and experience.

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