Will this prevent me from becoming a Seaman?

Hi everyone,
I’m interested in applying to attend the Seafarers International Union training apprenticeship, and I’m about ready to start the process, but I have some concerns and wanted to get some advice before I put all this money into making this happen.

Biggest Concern:
This is going to sound bad, and I deeply regret it but here it is
Short Story: I was referred to the Army Ntl Guard from a friend, it sounded like such a great opportunity and I didn’t disclose past depression in my life to my recruiter or MEPS. When I got to basic training there was a meeting held called Moment of Truth. The commander told us if there was anything we didn’t disclose to our recruiters or MEPS, now is the time to tell us, if you come now we won’t charge you with fraud-enlistment. I got really scared and just decided to go up and tell them. The put me on a medical discharge my separation code is RE3 JFW.

Please refrain from any bashing, I know it was a very stupid thing to do, but I saw this as an opportunity to make a career for myself and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of it. I am very sorry for it, and just want to be completely honest. Mentally, I don’t have any more depression. My past was pretty much high school stuff, I didn’t fit in very well.

Now with that story, would it prevent me from becoming a merchant mariner? I didn’t know if it would prevent me from getting a TWIC or a MMC.

If I read the separation codes correctly RE-3 - Individuals who are not qualified for continued Army service, but the disqualification is waiverable. Ineligible for enlistment unless a waiver is granted. And JFW - Erroneous enlistment; Medical condition disqualifying for military service, with no medical waiver approved.

In my opinion the short answer is no, it should not prevent you from getting a TWIC or MMC. If you were able to get a waiver there would be a chance to re-enlist but that is not the question. Do the application and see if you are selected for the apprentice program and go from there.

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Well, first of all, you got a bum rap with the National Guard. But be that as it may:

No, it won’t stop you from being a merchant mariner. Just don’t make the same mistake twice. Don’t bring it up. When you take your physical for your initial MMC go to a doctor other than your personal doctor to fill out the form. Any doctor can do it.

Depression is a common medical condition, especially with young people. There are fine gradations to it and I’m in favor of you monitoring your level of it, and if it becomes a problem in the future, you dealing with it medically.

But the USCG medical screening system is imperfect, like any screening system. Bring up depression to the military/USCG and they most often hit the panic button, and make you jump through unnecessary hoops. So don’t bring it up.


Thanks your reply was pretty encouraging! My only concern is that, if I don’t bring it up, I’m guessing they run a background check for your MMC? They will see that I was discharged and that could potentially disqualify me?

Oops. I never thought of that. You’ll have to refer to someone else on that. My only comment would be that the USCG medical rules are in a way aimed toward you seeking help, rather than barring admittance. If you had Type-1 diabetes for example, the USCG simply wants a specialist to certify your heath in no way makes you a safety risk to anyone.

The same thing would probably hold true for depression. If you sought medical help in the past and a doctor now certifies your health is no longer an issue, my guess is that the USCG wouldn’t bar you from getting a MMC.

But you would need to submit the necessary doctor’s paperwork, and you would also need to be prepared in case the USCG asks you to get even more medical certification. USCG medical cards require some people to jump through hoops these days. But people do it, and still keep sailing.

SERIOUSLY DUDE?! That is some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard for someone attempting to start a career as a mariner. @NomadicRavyn, see below… you’d be well advised to be honest and follow the procedure for a waiver if they determine you need one. If it’s an old diagnosis and your doctor says doesn’t require medication, that shouldn’t be an issue at all. I’ve known a lot of people that have gotten similar waivers, or were determined not to even need one.

From form CG-719K:

My signature below attests, subject to prosecution under 18 USC § 1001, that all information provided by me on this form is complete and true to the best of my knowledge, and I agree that it is to be considered part of the basis for issuance of any medical certificate to me. I have not knowingly omitted any material information relevant to this form.


It will not affect your TWIC. I advise you obtain a letter from a therapist or physiologist stating you are no longer being treated for depression and you can work with no restrictions / fit for duty. Certain medications can be a problem but if your not being treated then there’s no meds to disclose. The SIU the apprenticeship program there is no guarantee you will be selected, make it through the program, or have a job if you complete the program. Its a gamble financially and there is no pay while going through the lengthy program. You can obtain your credentials, go the extra mile and do STCW BST, security awareness and passport then start applying for entry level jobs. There are union companies that hire outside the union, if hired you will be required to join that union. Prepare to do allot of apps and don’t quit your job till your sure you have one. Its doable !

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I’ll stick by my posts 3 and 5.

By the way, Here’s some advice for someone to begin a career as a merchant mariner: stop drinking. Altogether. The biggest mental health problem for merchant mariners for the last 10,000 years has been alcoholism. Far worse than depression. It is the single biggest medical problem on a medical questionnaire that merchant mariners routinely lie about (“How many drinks do you have in a week?” 4. Actual answer: 4 a night.) A large fraction of sailors are alcoholics and don’t want to admit it. But for some reason, they treat all other mental illnesses as something different.


Be truthful.

Depression can affect a marine medical. If you are taking medication. Ie any anti depressants.
A previous history of being treated for depression, probably will not depending upon how much time has passed.

It’s the medication, which is the problem.

Read the question carefully, if there question includes a time frame, no requirement to disclose anything prior to the time frame.

The problem with non disclosure, you could be terminated for non disclosure or worse you could could be in deep trouble with the law if involved in an incident.

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Can you pass a background check to buy a gun? If so you’ll likely pass the USCG background check which checks way back. TWIC used to only go back 5 years. The National Drivers Registry which the USCG uses trips up a lot of people who don’t admit past DUIs. DUI charges show up even if later dropped. Unless you were involuntarily committed to a mental treatment hospital there is likely no public record of your treatment for depression. Depression is a rather nebulous term anyway. Everyone gets depressed, some seek treatment, some should and a lot don’t. Most live happily ever after.

Sounds like a good foundation for a long and happy career at sea.


There are dirty docs who specialize in DOT and USCG physicals that will sign off on anything. You’ll be fine so long as you weren’t institutionalized at a behavioral hospital. Even then if you were and you are honest on the app you could still be fine. I sailed with a guy who was carried a letter signed by a psychiatrist attesting that he was no longer crazy. But, honestly he didn’t have just one screw loose in his head, an entire bolt keg was kicked over in there. You’ll be surprised by the characters you’ll meet out there.

I thought that it was a requirement. . . .


I suggest that you start by using the search function for “license consultant” or googling USCG license consultant. Call several of them and ask your questions. These guys have many years of experience processing applications. They have seen it all.

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The application for your MMC requires you sign a release to allow the NMC to obtain your medical records. You also sign an oath that your being truthfu on your MMC app. Prepare to have to prove you are no longer having this issue or being treated for it. Consider calling the NMC to answer this question to avoid any delays. This will not disqualify you from obtaining a TWIC

This thread is ripe for closing.

No. It doesn’t. The section is clearly labelled “Optional” It also only authorizes NMC to receive the records, and the custodian of the records (your doctor) probably can’t release them without your consent.