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The UK Armed Forces and epilepsy

These pages are about The UK Armed Forces. If you are looking for information about working for the armed forces in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation

The Armed Forces include the army, navy and air force.

You would NOT be able to join the Armed Forces if:

  • You have a diagnosis of epilepsy or
  • You have had more than one seizure since your sixth birthday

The possibilities of joining the Armed Forces if you have epilepsy are very limited. They are listed below.

You WOULD be able to join the Armed forces if:

  • You had a febrile seizure before your sixth birthday and no seizures since
  • You had typical childhood absence seizures starting before the age of 10 and no seizures or treatment for the last five years
  • You had a confirmed diagnosis of benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood and no seizures or treatment for the last five years

You MAY be able to join the Armed forces for full or possibly restricted service if:

  • You had a single seizure more than 10 years ago and no seizures or treatment since
  • You have had a provoked seizure. This is defined as a seizure with a specific cause. This situation will be considered on a case by case basis. What has caused the seizure will be especially relevant.

Someone who has had a single or provoked seizure will be referred to the Single Service Occupational Physician responsible for the selection of recruits. They will decide the type of service suitable for you.

Seizures when you are already employed by the Armed Forces

If you have only had one seizure, you are usually downgraded for 18 months. You may also be restricted in driving and handling weapons.

If you have had more than one seizure you are usually considered unfit for any trade in the Armed Forces.

If it is discovered, after being employed, that you have not mentioned a disqualifying medical condition that you knew about beforehand, then you may be dishonourably discharged for fraudulent enlistment.

For more general information, including the number for your local Recruiting Office:

Army careers office:                 0845 600 8080
Royal Air Force careers office: 0845 605 5555
Royal Navy careers office:        0845 607 5555

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and information references section of our website. See Armed Forces and epilepsy.

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We can provide references and information on the source material we use to write our epilepsy advice and information pages. Please contact our Epilepsy Helpline by email at helpline@epilepsy.org.uk.
Code: 
F082.03

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated June 2014
    To be reviewed June 2017

Comments: read the 10 comments or add yours

Comments

My son is nearly 17 and had two fits three years ago , never put on medicine .could he join the army .

Submitted by sharon osborne on

Hi Sharon

Sorry but we can’t comment on individual cases. It would be advisable for your son to talk to the Army careers office: 0845 730 0111.

Regards

Diane Wallace

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane on

I had a seizure when i was two months old (Im 17 now), havnt been diagnosed with epilepsy, would i be able to join?

Submitted by nathan on

Hi Nathan

From your information, it appears you should be able to join the armed forces. You could get this confirmed by contacting one of the Recruiting Offices listed on this webpage.

Good luck

Regards

Diane Wallace

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane on

I had past epilepsy but I have not had a seizure in 11 years would I be able to get in the military

Submitted by thomas on

Hi Thomas

I can see you have been on our webpages about epilepsy and the Armed Forces.

So the answer to your question depends partly on how old you were when you had your last seizure.

If you have had a diagnosis of epilepsy or if you have had more than one seizure since your sixth birthday then you wouldn’t be able to join the Armed Forces.

I hope that helps.

Cherry

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Cherry-Epilepsy... on

hi, I had a seizure in 2006 when I was 19, I have since had a diagnosis of NON-epileptic seizure. Where would this fall. Would it come under normal rules on epilepsy or not ?

Submitted by Samuel on

Hi

Thanks for your question. Our knowledge of non-epileptic seizures and NEAD is limited. It may be that non-epileptic seizures will fall under the rules outlined on this page, as most of these rules refer to seizures, rather than specifically to epilepsy. Or it may be they come under another condition. For the specific rules regarding non-epileptic seizures and the armed forces, you would need to contact the recruitment office.

Good luck

Sacha
Epilepsy Action Advice & Information Team

Submitted by Sacha@Epilepsy ... on

Hi, im 22 and i was diagnosed with epilepsy when i was 15. I know the trigger and cause if my seizures and can control on my own accord but my consultant insists i take medication. He is hoping to wein me off it in the near future. I have always wanted to be in the army and wondered if there was any chance of any position considering my condition.

Submitted by rhys on

Hi Rhys

There are really limited circumstances in which someone with epilepsy can take up any position in the Armed Forces. If you didn’t start with epilepsy till you were 15 I’m afraid you don’t meet their requirements.

I really hope you can find something else you’ll enjoy.

Cherry
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Cherry, Epileps... on

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