SF86 issue, Need Advice from TS holders

I know that there are similar discussions on here about this, but I want to give specific details to my situation and get advice specifically to it. I am enlisted in the military and on my first SF86 I did not disclose substance use. I was 18 years old not knowing much about the military and honestly didn’t know I was getting a clearance, or really what a clearance even was. After I was in I realized the mistake and have felt awful about it ever since. I know that I lied and am not going to blame it on the recruiter like most do. I am working on becoming a pilot and hope to apply in 4 years. I know to be a pilot you need a Top secret clearance. It will be over seven years when I apply for the clearance since last use when I was 16 or 17. Do you have any advice going forward with this?

I am not a current TS holder, but I’ve held Secret for 5 years and just underwent a polygraph for TS/SCI last week.

I would say that honesty is the best policy, but don’t over-volunteer information. If the question asks if you have ever done drugs within the last 7 years and it has truthfully been longer than 7 years since last use, you can safely and honestly say no.

However, you should answer any questions about falsifying government forms truthfully and explain your situation. Your investigator may ask you if there are any other concerns that you wish to share before he concludes the interview, and that would probably be a good time to spill the beans if you haven’t already. The earlier in the process that you fess up, the better your chances at leniency will be.

If you ever have to be polygraphed for any reason, expect this question to come up. And my advice on this is simple. Tell the truth.


I appreciate the advice. That is the route I am definitely going to take. I’m not trying to hide anything and I want to be honest going forward. I also agree with the over-volunteering advice. Thank you

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I have been working in the IC for about 6 years. This is just my experience and opinion so take it with a grain of salt.
That being said, I have been in a similar predicament regarding weed use. In 2019 I had an active clearance and, while going through a divorce with my wife, smoked pot. I self-reported the incident before being confronted or taking a drug test etc.
I also acknowledged that I witnessed several security violations but did not report them out of fear of the repercussions. I was suspended after that and had to undergo an investigation; while under investigation again, I admitted my mistakes, was transparent as possible, and took responsibility for my actions. I recently got my TS favorably adjudicated. Once again, I have an active clearance. Honesty is always the best policy for clearances, and it shows allegiance to the US, which is also a main concern.
I guess what I’m saying is the last thing you want is a skeleton knocking around in your closet for the rest of your life; if you intended to work in the IC, chances are this question will come up, and they will ask you why you have waited this long to report it.
There are ways to mitigate this issue, I feel you could say you were young, and you made a mistake, volunteer the information, and make a good faith effort to rectify it. The truth of it is, and I’m sure you probably know this, but they don’t care you smoked pot; they care that you lied to them about it.
Look up the 13 adjudicative guidelines and read the mitigating factors, so you can weave them into your story; a couple I can think of off the bat is (1) it happened so long ago or so infrequently that it poses no threat of recurrence. It wouldn’t hurt to reach out to a clearance lawyer just to get their input on the matter.
Hope this helps.

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Thank you for this advice. My intentions are good and I want you make this right. It gives me hope when I hear advice like this, that this issue can be resolved and that I can live out my dream.

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Nathan and Chzbrger are on track. Once you experience polygraph…you realize 99.9% of us will be bothered if we are hiding something. That stress shows up and a decent polygrapher will pick at it until they get you talking. Its always best to speak to it, address it honestly and let them create questions on the poly for it. This will vett the subject matter.

Thank you for the advice! What are your thoughts on the likelihood of me getting the clearance?

If you take responsibility for what you did, acknowledge that it was wrong, and express the situation I think you should be fine. You just have to try and correct the issue as soon as you are able to. The longer you wait the worse it looks. Adjudicators seem to be relatively understanding and take the whole person concept into account. Personally, I think you should be fine given you fit all the criteria of being an outstanding citizen. However, it’s not something that is guaranteed intentionally lying on a clearance form is a pretty big deal. Try not to worry too much about it dude, just come clean be candid, and that’s really the best you can do. Hope it all works out for you.

So I’m not panning on going up for the top secret for another 4 years. Are you saying that once the investigation starts to be upfront and open about it?


No im saying be proactive fix it now so in four years it won’t be an issue.