My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 21, 2022

Important medical standards update expected to improve retention of Coast Guard members and ease requirements for those entering the service

By Keisha Reynolds, MyCG Writer

Initiated by Commandant Linda Fagan, the Coast Guard recently aligned its medical standards with the Department of Defense’s (DoD) to refine the health requirements needed to continue current Coast Guard service, as well as the health criteria for those entering. The change impacts what’s known as the medical accession and retention standards for Coast Guard members and will be reflected in the next Coast Guard Medical Manual update. 

The Medical Standards for Military Service ALCOAST 223/23 announced the change, in which the DoD standards supersede the current version of the Coast Guard’s Medical Manual. “The purpose of this policy change is to ensure parity with our sister services in the DoD. It will also give the Coast Guard the ability to recruit and retain as many highly trained and motivated members as we can without endangering health or medical readiness,” said Rear Adm. Dana Thomas, the Director of Health, Safety, and Work-Life (HSWL). “In general, the DoD medical standards are more focused on true functional ability than the original Coast Guard standards, and they allow for more flexibility in recruiting or retaining individuals with medical conditions, or those who require certain medications.”

Under the new guidance, the Coast Guard will be more attuned to whether or not the member can perform their duties despite medication needs or diagnosis. However, specific communities within the Coast Guard will still apply higher medical standards because of the demands of their required duties. Waivers are always considered on an individually basis, based on rating or officer specialty, time-in-service, world-wide deployability and needs of the service. HSWL will work with the Personnel Services Center in the coming weeks to determine which Coast Guard-specific standards are needed.

The standards will be incorporated into fitness for duty determinations, medical evaluation boards (MEBs), and waivers for potentially disqualifying conditions. If you are in a fitness for duty process and have questions about the changes, and your MEB or waiver request has not yet been submitted to PSC-PSD-med, contact your primary care provider or your supporting Coast Guard clinic. If your MEB or waiver request has already been submitted to PSC-PSD-med, email the PSD-med Ombudsmen.