Note: The below was posted by a forumer USMC recruiting official (GCAMPION) in our message forum. It is one of the best explanations of the waive process I have seen. This is in response to a potential Army recruit who has been waiting a year for approval of a Morals (criminal history) Waiver.
You don't mention your offense, your age, or any other disqualifications, but it sounds like it is likely more than a speeding ticket or shoplifting.
I was involved with waivers at all levels (bottom to top) so maybe I can shed some light on why you feel like you are getting the run around.
First, you are not qualified, that's why you need the waiver(s). Different waivers have to go to different levels and to different ranks of officers for approval up the chain of command. The recruiter will ask for a waiver for nearly anyone...he's under lots of pressure for quota. As you move up the chain, people start comparing the time and effort spent in putting the package together and the likelihood of getting an approval. Officers put their name on you waiver package. What they are saying is: "I believe in this guy, we should take a chance on him". If they run too many ridiculous waivers or if most of their applicants with waivers fail recruit training or don't complete their first enlistment, these officers lose credibility. It is (or was) a statistical fact that the attrition rate (recruit training or first term of enlistment) for applicants is higher than those without a waiver. I used to tell my recruiters all the time..."stop wasting your time trying to qualify the unqualifiable, go out and find me someone who doesn't need a waiver." I personally submitted, reviewed, processed, recommended and approved thousands of waivers.
Another factor...meeting you face to face creates an emotional attachment that is not always the best thing in terms of being able to make an objective decision. In other words, by meeting you, it makes it more difficult for the BN CO to say no. He may have purposely decided not to. Also keep in mind, he has many many other issues and does not really have the time to interview waiver applicants.
Sometimes, officers will run waivers out of loyalty to their recruiters, to show that they trust their judgment and support them, even though they will not fight for the waivers approval. I personally never did this, but I had waivers submitted to me for approval that were nothing more than loyalty checks.
Sometimes personal feelings come into play. Lets say your offense was burglary, and the final approval authority..some colonel...had his house robbed. Do you think he's going to look kindly on a burglary waiver?
Now, again, I don't know your situation. You may have the potential to be the greatest soldier in the Army, but the Army can't see into the future. They can only look at your past, and compare it to statistical performance of soldiers with backgrounds similiar to yours.
As for how long it takes...well, keep in mind, you are not an only child when it comes to waivers. The Marine Corps puts in about 40,000 new recruits every year...and they are the smallest service. The Army is the largest. Not all need waivers, but some do. You do not get the same degree of attention, (remember, you are asking for an exception, ...basically a favor) as some of the other issues on these colonels or generals plates.
You have a right to contact your Congressman/Senator. My office responded to all the recruiting related one for the Marines. We never changed anything based on a Congressional inquiry. Unless the Congressman is a close family friend, all his office want is some information to put in their letter back to you. The congressman will never be aware of your letter. No congressman is going to risk his reputation by recommending a waiver for someone with a criminal history.
Believe me, no one wants you to get in any more than the Army recruiting people. There job is to get people in...not keep them out.
Please don't take any of this personal. I just wanted to give you a better understanding of all the moving parts that may affect your waiver. (And again, my perspective was from the Marine Corps, but I'm sure the Army process and concerns are very similar)
Good luck to you. I ran and got some tough waivers approved myself. Some were good calls, some made me look like a fool.