Former BYU ROTC Cadet finds new direction after medical disqualification

625
Cadet Juston Goldade participates in a 36-48 hour mock special operations selection process in Prescott, AZ. In this exercise, they moved the log to another location as part of a race. (Courtesy of Juston Goldade)

Cadet Juston Goldade grew up 30 minutes away from one of the largest naval stations in the world: Naval Station Norfolk.

Goldade’s grandfathers, bishops, scout leaders and friends’ parents were all connected to the military.

“The Pave Hawks flew low, low enough to rattle the windows of our house,” he said when speaking about his childhood in Chesapeake, Virginia.

He described going to campouts on base, running their obstacle courses and watching aircraft fly overhead. All of this influenced his desire to serve in the military, a dream that ultimately would not come true for Goldade.

He wanted to fly in the U.S. Marine Corps. Surrounded by naval air stations and leaders in the military, Goldade said he cannot speak of his childhood without mentioning its influence on his military aspirations. This dream of flying for the Marine Corps, which transformed during his time at BYU to serving in the Air Force, is what led him to join the BYU Air Force ROTC in 2018.

“Even though my entire time at BYU was great, the two years that stand out were definitely the two years I was in ROTC. I met some of the best guys that I know there,” Goldade said.

Mike Ross, Goldade’s former roommate and wingman in many ROTC activities, said that Goldade has a contagious laugh, is reliable and is a “rock of a person that you can lean on to.”

Instructor and Operations Flight Commander Daniel McCombs taught Goldade in his first class as an instructor at BYU. 

“He was very enthusiastic in class, very sharp with his teammates, physically capable. He could have done anything in the Air Force had they allowed him to stay, but it was not for him, I’m afraid,” McCombs said.

In Goldade’s second year in the ROTC, he filled out his Department of Defense Medical Exam to be processed before going to field training. When no word had returned, he spoke with a non-commissioned officer to follow-up on his exam, who in turn called the medical examiner. 

Goldade learned that he had been disqualified medically from serving active duty in the Air Force due to having been diagnosed with eczema on his hands years prior.

“When I found out that I got disqualified medically for serving active duty in the Air Force, that crushed me.”

Cadet Juston Goldade

This devastating news meant that he would no longer be able to continue in the ROTC program, and worse yet, was disqualified from serving in the U.S. Air Force.

“When I found out that I got disqualified medically for serving active duty in the Air Force, that crushed me,” Goldade said. “It took a lot to be able to get out of the room before just the total breakdown. My dreams from childhood of flying in the military just were taken from me like that.”

Cadet Juston Goldade discusses his medical disqualification. Goldade grew up 30 minutes away from one of the largest naval stations in the world: Naval Station Norfolk.

While he has had eczema on his hands since he was young, the last flare up had been five years prior to filling out the examination. It had never crossed his mind that he could be disqualified for this condition.

“I think their concern was, ‘if we send him to a super dry place, are his hands gonna take priority over the mission?’” he said.

Disqualifications, according to the Air Force Academy Admissions, may include food allergies, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, asthma and even severe acne. 

Ross said that in his first year there were around 30 people in the ROTC and only around ten that graduated with him. While not all of them were disqualified for medical conditions, it is a common situation in the military.

“It’s always sad, you know, you always hope that they make it through, but more often than not you kind of hear about that, to be honest,” he said.

McCombs expressed his admiration for how Goldade responded to the situation.

“I suspect they have their reasons, their charts and doctors have gone over this together, but it’s just frustrating for someone in the situation to understand. But that’s one of the things that I admire most about Juston, he didn’t complain, didn’t fight it. He didn’t become an enemy to ROTC. He stayed a friend,” McCombs said.

After receiving the news, Goldade finished out the semester in what felt like a “send off.” They visited the Dallas Air Force base, did a Bataan Memorial Death March with a few of the other cadets and ran a marathon with 40 pounds on their backs as a team. 

Juston Goldade stands in front of an F14 Tomcat in the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA. Goldade planned on flying for the military until receiving news of his medical disqualification. (Courtesy of Juston Goldade)

While his final semester in the ROTC was positive, he said he continued to feel lost. 

“At the time my degree was just a means to an end. It was just a means to get a commission so I could serve in the military,” he said. 

A conversation with a friend provided a spiritual confirmation to Goldade that he was exactly where he needed to be.

“My friend brought up the point that my Heavenly Father knows what I want. Even if deep down I still haven’t identified it, He knows what I want. I got what I needed from ROTC to get where I wanted to go during those two years,” he said. “It was a spiritual confirmation saying, It’s gonna hurt, but you want to go where I know you want to go, you can’t be here anymore.”

Goldade said that advice helped ease his mind about the situation, however, he still battled with the direction of his studies and what he would do in the future.

Serving as a police officer, FBI or border patrol agent, and working in defense contracting all were attractive options for Goldade, however due to a variety of roadblocks, none of those paths worked out.

“My friend brought up the point that my Heavenly Father knows what I want. Even if deep down I still haven’t identified it, He knows what I want.”

Cadet Juston Goldade
Juston Goldade graduated from BYU in manufacturing engineering technology in 2021. (Courtesy of Juston Goldade)

Goldade is currently working at an engineering consulting firm called Dennis Group.

“I realize I enjoy the engineering part of my job right now. I think the thing that I most enjoy, however, is interacting with different people with different disciplines.”

Goldade is continuing to seek out future career opportunities by meeting with a National Guard recruiter and looking into pursuing an MBA. 

McCombs said he is not surprised to see Goldade succeeding after graduating from BYU. “I see that he’s doing great, and I’m proud of him. I foresee great things, someday I’ll be working for him,” he said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email