If you want to join the military, you will have to meet certain financial eligibility standards. In most cases, the fact that you filed for bankruptcy will not automatically disqualify you from enlisting in the military. But the circumstances surrounding your bankruptcy can affect your chances of joining the military as well as your security clearance.
Read on to learn more about whether filing for bankruptcy will affect your ability to join the military.
For more information on whether filing for bankruptcy is in your best interest, see our topic area on Bankruptcy: Should I File?
You Must Be Financially Responsible to Join the Military
Each branch of the military has its own eligibility requirements. But in general, financial responsibility is one of the criteria the military considers in the recruitment process. This means that most branches of the military will review your financial history before they will allow you to enlist.
The military checks your financial background to make sure you are dependable, responsible, and can survive on your military salary. The following are some of the most common financial circumstances that can affect your ability to join the military:
- large amounts of credit card debt
- foreclosures and repossessions
- delinquent accounts, and
- embezzlement, tax evasion, or other financially fraudulent conduct.
Will Filing for Bankruptcy Hurt Your Chances of Joining the Military?
While a bankruptcy filing might be considered a negative financial event, it can also show that you are taking control of your finances by eliminating your debts. In general, how your bankruptcy will affect your chances of joining the military will depend on the circumstances that led you to file.
Some of the things that a military recruiter might view as a negative include:
- multiple bankruptcy filings
- filing for bankruptcy to eliminate debts for excessive or luxury purchases
- disobeying court orders during bankruptcy, and
- committing bankruptcy fraud.
On the other hand, bankruptcy can help improve your financial situation by eliminating many of your debts and giving you a fresh financial start. Typically, military recruiters will view your bankruptcy more positively if you had to file because of circumstances that were out of your control (such as job loss or illness) and you have remained financially responsible since then.
Bankruptcy and Your Security Clearance
Whether bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your security clearance or career advancement will depend on the branch of the military you want to join and the type of position you are looking for.
In most cases, the level of security clearance you can obtain will depend on numerous factors including:
- how financially responsible you are
- whether you have committed any crimes in the past
- whether you have a history of abusing drugs or alcohol
- your relationships with foreign individuals and your ties to other countries, and
- whether you have any personality disorders.
Get More Information From a Military Recruiter
As we discussed, whether filing for bankruptcy will affect your ability to join the military or your security clearance depends on:
- your individual circumstances, and
- the specific rules of the military branch you want to join.
Speaking with a military recruiter can provide you with detailed information regarding whether a bankruptcy filing will hurt your chances of joining the military or your future military career. For this reason, it's a good idea to talk to a recruiter to learn about all of your options prior to filing your case.