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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 UK Armed Forces and epilepsy

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

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

In this section

Epilepsy, single seizures and febrile convulsions
Provoked seizures
Childhood absence seizures
Benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood

Epilepsy, single seizures and febrile convulsions

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

  • you have been diagnosed with epilepsy and you have had more than one seizure since the age of five years; or
  • you have had a single seizure in the last 10 years.

You MAY be able to join the Armed Forces, possibly in restricted jobs if:

  • you have had febrile convulsions before the age of six, and no seizures since then; or
  • you have had a single seizure more than 10 years ago, and have not been on treatment since then.

Provoked seizures

This is defined as a seizure that has a specific cause. If you have had a provoked seizure, this will be assessed on an individual basis. The Single Service Occupational Physician responsible for the selection of recruits will be able to advise you.

Childhood absence seizures

  • You may be considered fit for employment if you have a history of childhood absence seizures which started before the age of 10 years and
  • you have had no seizures or treatment for the last five years.

Benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood

  • You may be considered fit for employment if you have a confirmed diagnosis of typical benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood and
  • you have been seizure-free without treatment for the last five years.

Seizures once 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 730 0111
Royal Air Force careers office:   0845 605 5555
Royal Navy careers office:          0845 607 5555

This information is taken from the Joint Services publication, joint system of medical classifications JSP 346, paragraph 3.8.5. 

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  • Updated May 2012
    To be reviewed May 2014

Comments: read the 4 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

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