Lied at MEPS and now need SF-86 a year later, advice?

So, I was stupid and lied at MEPS per my recruiter’s advice. I had just gotten out of a highly toxic relationship with someone I had loved very much. I wanted to better myself and also get away/get distracted from my failed partnership. I omitted information at MEPS. I felt bad about it at the time but wanted to get away from my current situation asap (breakup, contract, and shipping out to basic all in the same month). I felt even worse about it later when my head was clear and I wished I had just gotten waivers. Now a year later it has taken a dark turn because I got an email today that we’d all need to get secret clearance. After doing research and reading over the SF-86 form I can see there are several discrepancies of things I never reported to MEPS. Some I can fudge a little bit but I figure that’s a bad idea because as I gain rank maybe I’ll need to get TS clearance and do a polygraph. Here’s what I didn’t disclose at MEPS:

I had my appendix removed around 2008 (would be 19 years old).

I had PRK laser eyes surgery around 2010 (would be 21 years old).

I was a pot head from about 2010 to probably 2015 (would be 21-26 years old)… Some minor use that eventually became rare use after that but definitely not almost daily use like before. No pot use for a year now. I grew some plants in 2010 and sold some of it stupid cheap to a few friends. I also had a medical marijuana card for like a year or two while I grew, I don’t remember how long it lasted (Don’t think I ever renewed it).

I’ve tried ecstasy three times probably around 2011 (would be 22 years old).

Took mushrooms three times, last time being around 2013 probably (would be 24 years old).

I had a vasectomy around 2014 (would be 24 years old).

I’ve gotten two tickets, one for running a stop sign on a bicycle and the last one (2014, would be 25 years old) for speeding . Both cases were dismissed.

I had a positive TB test in 2015, but nothing on x-rays (would be 26 years old).

A car pulled out in front of me and caused an unavoidable accident in 2017 where I had some hearing damage from the airbags going off (would be 28 years old).

So as you can see, I’ve dug myself quite the hole. I’ve been wanting to come clean and have tried Googling in the past as to how but kind of gave up on it because it seemed very tricky. Now I’m back to searching the best route. Any advice on coming clean and mitigating the damage?

None of the medical stuff is likely to come up during a clearance investigation.

The drug use will definitely be discussed and may create problems for you, but if you’re up front and honest on your SF86 and during your interview that will help.

Tickets resulting in fines under $300 do not need to disclosed, but may come up during the interview since checks with law enforcement agencies are done during the process, but they might not so who knows…just stick to the $300 rule and you’ll be fine.

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You grew and distributed narcotics that were definitely illegal at the time. You didn’t disclose 5 years of constant drug usage. And you failed to list hard drug usage. If I’m being honest, this definitely is going to be difficult. Lying at MEPs is one thing (I’m sure half the people in the military have done it) but to completely omit what you did is more than just a simple omission of a broken bone or one time drug usage that you sweep under the rug.

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Here in CA I don’t think there is a ticket under $500 lol.

@DALcal I was trying to be nice about it lol! But yes…your response is definitely more on point. Regardless of that, be honest OP. Don’t continue to lie about it.

@BadChoicesMade I know! I’m on a TDY in CA right now and during subject interviews I’ve been told about redlight camera tickets. Back in my home state it’s a $50 fine and doesn’t count against your license, not here in CA apparently! $500 and goes against you! Ouch!

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Haha I assume somebody with your experience would know way better than me anyways. I wish MEPs would be a little more demanding when filling out these forms. It seems too common somebody fills these out wrong there.

I assume it’s best to self report to my superiors now rather than do it on the SF-86 paperwork. I just want to be prepared. I don’t know if I should request they put me in support which may not require the secret clearance, if I should ask for a general discharge, if I’m just overreacting and just tell them, etc. etc.

Depending on the branch you’re in, you have a good chance of being kicked out. You are a fraudulent enlistment and it may come to light during the investigation


ADIP called it. Fraudulent enlistment is and has been used to discharge folks. However, MEPS and recruiters are notorious for advising you to lie. The clearance world is well aware of this. How old were you at time of enlistment? Have you used at all while in the service? The medical stuff is not relevant. Heavy pot use 4 years prior is fading from getting cleared now…but it was relevant at the time of enlistment. Advice: list everything. They may compare. They may not. If you did not “clear” and fill out an SF86 when you enlisted it may very well be water under the bridge. If asked if you disclosed this, be honest. If not asked…I would not bring it up. MJ is not a narcotic, so you did not grow “narcotics.” Selling is a higher category, but again what age were you at the time, how much time has elapsed, did you slip back into bad behavior while in the military? You will not get past the poly on those questions. I would check yes on Pot use, average times used and go with that. Do not grossly under report, but do not grossly over report. Be honest.

My recruiter didn’t blanketly say lie about stuff, I brought up each one of those specifically and each one she told me to lie about it. I figured because the Army isn’t doing a thorough background on this stuff to begin with then they really just need people and expect it to happen. Kind of like a known back door that’s advantageous to keep open to gain more recruits. I figured I don’t have anything that actually stops me from being a good soldier like some kind of serious debilitating medical injury and I haven’t been to prison, etc.

I enlisted at 29 and I’m now 30. I haven’t used since being in the service nor plan on it in the future.

Except honesty and demonstrated trustworthiness…to be blunt. The manner in which you frame the situation in the update…don’t go down that path. Use at age 29 is harder to mitigate. I recommend sitting down with your commander or first Sgt and seeing if this cup can pass away from you initially this go around. Tell him you are trying to put distance between you and civilian stuff. If they already know you to be a good soldier they will wait to submit you for clearance. If you are generically invisible to them…maybe not. If you can wait to clear, I recommend it. If you cannot I say disclose all of it. But realistically at age 29 they would have wanted 3 years with no use to clear you. It is understood you had no incentive to not use as a civilian. But don’t downplay or make light of your use. Own it, tell them you put it behind you, late bloomer…etc.

I agree. I pride myself in my honesty and it’s definitely not a habit. I guess I liken what happened to a crime of passion? I was in a dark place braking up with my alcoholic girlfriend after things went sour in her rehab. I was just trying to get away to somewhere better.

I understand it’s a fraudulent enlistment. I don’t want to continue the lie and I understand there will be consequences. I’m just trying to figure out how to mitigate the damage.

See if you can get senior leader support to not pursue clearing right now but only to mitigate prior to army conduct. If they say no way you must be put in…be honest. They may check, they may not check. You don’t really have the youthful stupidity excuse to fall back on. But perhaps you can spin it on removing people from your life that were of bad influence, making wise choices by…joining the Army…and you want to keep on this path. But right now you need a year or 3 to mitigate civilian life concerns. If you are a good soldier…you can get a pause. If an employee tells me about bad conduct I must report it. Before I submit them for an upgrade I tell them the conduct that will stop them and take their clearance. Sometimes they still blurt out stuff and I have to report it. Point being the command doesn’t want to lose you if you are a good soldier, and in my experience the fraudulent enlistment charge is usually used when a soldier isn’t a good fit for military life, has an issue and then they find the fraudulent enlistment part…and use that as the removal mechanism. If you are a good soldier they likely view pre service conduct as just that…pre service.

Thank you for your reply, it makes me feel a little better though I’m still freaking out.

I’ve updated my original post to include about what age I would have been.

How would you suggest me to bring it up to my senior leaders? I was thinking of asking one particular sergeant to speak to him in private about a personal issue, letting him know that there were things I didn’t disclose at MEPS, what they were, and how to disclose it to the commander or first sergeant and if I should request a particular mitigation action.

The black and white answer, you’re in the Army fraudulently. How long you want the charade to go on is up to you.

Some of the best military members get kicked out years after being in, because of the skeletons that are found in the closet after they go for a clearance upgrade.

Depending on the MOS you are in, the most you may ever need is a secret and no one might never dig into your pass. Or… sometime down the road you may go up for a higher level clearance and you get booted with many more years in and more to lose.

As far as the excuse my recruiter told me to lie. At the end of the day you signed the paperwork saying everything in your paperwork is the truth.

Your recruiter telling you to lie, isn’t a back door to get you in. It’s the door she used to win and award, not get fired or simply to keep the boss off of her case.


If you report this, you will be facing a discharge maybe worst.

I’ve seen folks clear with far worse, and get revoked for far less. This is where the whole picture and whole person, totality of circumstance comes into play. Moving forward, only honestly works. Zero deception is allowed. That compounds the situation. You may take lumps for what happened. I recommend talking to the legal support office.

Any update on your clearance?

Here’s the deal and I am a former military FSO or CIP. The clearance is the least of your concerns. You MUST disclose the marijuana use on your SF 86. NOW, for the legal side. You falsified enlistment documents. Before the clearance investigation ever gets started your JAG will hit you with falsifying your enlistment. That isn’t good and usually results in immediate discharge. You need to seek legal advice ASAP about your recruiter and what he told you to do. DO NOT try to hide anything, it’ll only make things worse.