Secret clearence outlook

Hello, new here and have been scanning this forum. I wanted to see if any investigator or adjudicator could offer some advice.

About myself, I’m 25(m). I currently work for the government on a federal fire crew. I want to pursue a career in the army that requires a secret clearance. This won’t be happening until later next year so I have wiggle room. I’ve been researching about the clearance process, I’ve downloaded a PDF of SEAD 4 and the ADR, as well as the sf86, and kinda just filled it out in my head and figuring what mine would look like.

My concerns are
Finance, drugs, and mental health

Biggest concern is finance, biggest reason for a denial. I’ve read alot about people having life happen and falling into debt, way North of 10k, being behind on payments while going through clearance, dealing with collections, basically the whole 9 yards. My issue revolves around having a history of being late on payments. I was young, and was never taught finances or how to manage and budget and I got careless. I’ve also had things go to collections I believe 3 times, never amounting more than $400. That happened for around age 19-23. I always paid everything off in full though, although I did have multiple bills over 120 days, as listed for something on the sf86. So I’m just curious on mitigation on that, if just staying current on all payments, which has happened for almost a year now, or speaking with a financial advisor helps my case as well.

For drugs, I’m no so worried, typical highschool kid, smoked marijuana regularly, although it never controlled any aspect of my life. Always easy to stop when I felt the need, never in trouble with the law. After I turned 19 and got my first big job, I realized drugs and the professional world don’t mix, least not for me. So I stopped completely and haven’t smoked since. I did however obtain a medical marijuana card for my state in 2018. I felt more comfortable putting that in my body than Tylenol or Advil. Nonetheless I never actually purchased mj with the card, never felt right. I’ve also cut all ties with people I drank or smoked with when I was 19.

Lastly, I was put on Prozac at 13 after my mother passed. I believe I was diagnosed with depression, but if I remember correctly, it was pushed by my father. The last kicker here is when I was 15, I drank and got drunk for the first time. My father came home and found me pretty drunk and a week later, checked me out of school and put me into a rehab for month. They also prescribed me another anti depressant while I was there. With my current job, it requires arduous physical capability, so for the past 4 years I’ve rarely touched alcohol. I feel it interferes with my performance and I’ve lost alot of interest in partaking in drinking.

All in all, looking back, my youth has a lot of things working against me and I’m not as clean as I thought I was. Wish I could change things, but that’s how life is.

My research has caused a lot of stress and worry that I may have to let go of my pursuit of my dream job. I will not be lying on the sf86 and plan on being an open book, but with all my mitigation efforts and lifestyle change I’m worried there is too much stacked against me even if I have cleaned up my act. I figured getting proffesional
Advice here would atleast give me some kind of since for my situation.

Any advice or insight is appreciated for this nervous wreck, thanks for enduring that novel of mine.

  1. Finance: sounds like you are OK now but they’ll want to get as much detail from you as possible.
  2. Drugs: If no use since 19 then it should not be a problem
  3. Mental Health: not sure any of that will be relevant

I don’t think there are any show stoppers here for a secret clearance with the military.

Yeah, I was just irresponsible and didn’t know what I was doing. One account was red for awhile, but the emails were going to my spam folder at the time so I let that get bad.
I thought being diagnosed with depression or things similar raised a few eye brows, if not then I guess good news for me

Are you still being prescribed the medication? I may be wrong, but I vaguely remember my background investigator for my first clearance saying that they couldn’t look into anything prior to your 18th birthday, and my polygraphs only focusing on “while you’ve been an adult.”

Like I said, I could be wrong, so please take this with a grain of salt, but if that is true, and you are no longer medicated, I don’t think you have anything to worry about with the diagnosis as a teen.

No, I stopped taking it 10 years ago.
It’ll be with a secret clearance, so most of the time frame is the past 7 years. But there are some parts that ask if you’ve EVER done ‘insert here’. If I remember correctly, it asks about being on medication in a similar fashion. If it was just the meds on my past, I’d be more confident, but just it being paired with everything else has me a little more concerned.

Investigator here.

Timeline is important. There are a few questions that will ask if you have EVER done something vs “in the past X years”. In general, most things before your 18th birthday are not required to be listed.

Regarding finances-

The most important thing here is mitigating information. Age and immaturity level is helpful here. Also the fact that you are current on everything now is positive. Make sure to list all the accounts correctly in the form. They will run a credit check and find it all anyway, and it’s better to have it listed than to have to be asked why it’s missing, as it might seem like you’re trying to hide something. In your interview you’ll be asked to explain all the various financial issues. Just be open and honest and explain how you are now fixing the problems and handling your finances better, etc.

Drug use-

If any marijuana use happened after your 18th birthday it must be listed. Do not include anything prior to age 18. Again, be open and honest and provide the mitigating information like you did here. As long as you didn’t use the medical marijuana card you shouldn’t need to list it or mention it to the investigator unless they happen to specifically ask about it for some reason. Then obviously be honest.

Mental health/alcohol-

Everything regarding mental health that you mentioned here (depression, meds, etc) happened before you were 18 and is therefore not required to be listed. (And even if it had been after 18, a dx of depression isn’t required to be listed. Taking meds would never be required to be listed. Although mental health treatment like seeing a psychiatrist would be.)

The only thing that will catch you up in this area is the rehab. One of the questions on the form asks if you have EVER sought counseling or treatment as a result of alcohol use. I believe even though you were under 18 you’ll be required to list it. You’ll have to include details of where you went and you’ll have to explain it to the investigator in the interview process.

Overall, don’t stress too much. The alcohol abuse is the biggest issue here (although it might be an even tie with finances) but even then it’s not too significant, in my opinion. My only concern would be that you don’t have a lot of time between you and the financial incidents yet to show a change in behavior, but it sounds like overall the amounts were relatively minor and you’ve got it together now so that’s good. Emphasize the strategies you’ve taken to fix issues. Like using automatic bill pay now so you don’t forget to pay a bill, for example.

Just be open and honest about everything and the mitigating factors will hopefully work in your favor. I’m obviously not an adjudicator but I wouldn’t worry too much here. I’ve seen way more complicated cases come across my desk.

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I don’t recall any caveats about the mental health and drug related questions saying not to answer before your 18th birthday. They all have timeframes, i.e. ever, seven years, etc.

You might want to double check that.


Thank you for the details, definitely helps calm my nerves.
I do plan on waiting until I’m 27,(year and a half from now) in order to out more time of managed finance under my belt, and hopefully that is enough to work in my favor. The alcohol part, definitely gonna be a tricky one. Alcohol was never a problem in my life and my family was dumbfounded and very upset that my dad had chosen to stick me into a rehab with such little need for it(2nd time getting drunk) but my father isn’t a good man. But again, thank you for the response, I appreciate your time.

Yeah, I’ll give my PDF of the sf86 a double check just to be sure. Thank you