By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
When federal employees or government contractors face security clearance issues it can be helpful for them to have support from a medical professional, depending on the issues involved. In our security clearance practice, where appropriate, we often recommend that individuals consult with medical professionals (if they have not done so already) where medical or medical-related security concerns are under review.
Types of Security Concerns Involving Medical Professionals
In general, there are a variety of security concerns where a seasoned medical professional may be of assistance in a security clearance case. For example, we often find medical professionals helpful in cases where psychological conditions under Guideline I of the security clearance adjudication guidelines are involved. We also find medical professionals to be of assistance where a clearance applicant or holder has security concerns involving drug usage (Guideline H) and/or alcohol-related traffic matters (Guidelines E and J). These are just examples of the more frequent types of clearance cases where a medical professional or expert may be useful. Depending on the facts of a security clearance case, there can be other situations (other than those above), where the use of a medical professional would be helpful to a security clearance holder.
Use of Medical Professional in Security Clearance Matters
Where a security clearance is at issue, it can be very helpful to obtain a medical professional’s review of the underlying issues. The clearance authority, whether it is DoD CAF or any of the other clearance adjudication agencies (FBI, NRO, DoE, etc.) when such situations arise, will ask whether there are mitigating factors present regarding the security concerns at issue. When this occurs, it can be important to have a medical professional, if a regular physician is not available meet with the individual to attempt to mitigate the security concerns at issue. A few examples where medical professionals can be of help, follow:
Example A: Clearance holder has had 2 arrests for driving while intoxicated over the past 4 years. In such a situation, it would be important to have a medical professional evaluate, counsel and respond to the types of security concerns involved. It is often the case that a medical professional can outline all treatment options available to the individual, analyze the efforts undertaken by the individual to address any alcohol concerns or treatment. A seasoned medical professional can also render a medical opinion as to whether or not such issues are likely to re-occur in the future and can outline the best methods for an individual to avoid such issues in the future. Clearance authorities take reasoned medical opinions into account when considering whether or not to permit an individual to obtain or retain their security clearance.
Example B: Clearance holder has a significant mental health disorder and a clearance authority needs to determine whether the medical condition would affect the individual’s ability to hold access to classified information. In such situations, it is important to ensure that a medical professional provides a reasoned medical opinion as to whether the mental health condition will be an impediment to retaining a security clearance. The medical professional, in such a case, can evaluate the individual's medical history, treatment undertaken for the medical issues and also issue an opinion as to how the medical condition will likely affect the clearance holder in the future.
General Thoughts on the Use of Medical Professionals
Medical professionals are often asked to complete security clearance paperwork forms for clearance applicants and holders. They are often also asked to meet with clearance investigators and discuss the individual's medical condition. In many security clearance cases medical professionals also provide detailed medical evaluations and even testify during security clearance administrative hearings. The effective use of a medical professional, in appropriate cases, can make a significant impact on whether or not the individual retains, is granted or loses their security clearance. I have attached a link to a nice article completed by Brian Crowley, MD, about the role of the psychiatrist in the security clearance process. The article is published in the Washington Psychiatrist, on pages 11-12. The Psychiatrist in the Security Clearance Process.
When security clearance issues are of concern, especially those related to serious medical conditions, it is important to obtain the advice of counsel as early in the process as possible. Our law firm advises individuals in the security clearance process. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at (703) 668-0070. Our Facebook page is located at Berry & Berry PLLC Facebook Page.