MEPS is the first formal step of joining the United States Military. For many prospective recruits the Military Entrance and Processing Station can be a bit overwhelming. Finding appropriate information can also pose problems as all recruits come away from MEPS with slightly different experiences. Yet, regardless of whatever the prospective candidate’s desires or branch needs, appropriate planning and knowledge of the environment can make the first major leap into the military a much simpler transition.
The intention of MEPS is the ensure that all recruits are physically and mentally capable of entering the military and is run in three phases: mental proficiency (ASVAB, and possibly job specific tests), physical examinations, and meeting with the branch liaison. Each phase is simple enough at first glance, but forewarned is forearmed and a little pre planning can go a long way.
Recruits and their Recruiter
By the time the recruit is ready to go to MEPS several things should already have been accomplished:
1. Meet with the recruiter, discuss job plans and reserve desired position.
2. Acquire all medical information, to include: hospitalizations, immunizations, major and minor operations and contact information for current and previous physicians.
3. Acquire high school diploma and college transcripts.
4. Understand that all job opportunities and reservations mentioned and made by the recruiter are not final until the recruit is qualified and processed by the branch liaison at MEPS.
All recruits will undergo the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and must obtain the minimum score for their branch and the specific job they desire. The recruiter should have already provided the recruit with this information. Other tests such as the DLAB (Defensive Language and Aptitude Battery) may also be given after contract finalization.
Recruits will participate in what is commonly referred to as the underwear olympics in groups composed of their own sex. They will be asked to duck walk, perform overhead arm movements, fall forward on both knees and show proper motor skills and joint flex ability.
All recruits will be given a one on one exam to include a hemorrhoid exam and oral exam to look for inflammation and disease. Also, recruits will be required to give a urine and blood sample and refill all medical forms that were completed with the recruiter.
A full vision exam, to include red/green testing for the Army and depth perception for the Air force, will be performed as well as a hearing examination in a closed chamber to detect audible sensitivity.
Note: all recruits are presented with one final opportunity to admit to any fraudulence on their medical forms before singing their contract.
Meeting with the Branch Liaison
After completion of the ASVAB and medical exam, recruits will meet with their liaison for finalization of paper work, any necessary security clearance paperwork, job choosing and financial negotiations over bonuses, MGI Bill, insurance information and benefits. If all of the paperwork is signed and in order, recruits will be sworn in by either the MEPS station commander or his/her second in command.
MEPS is the formal enlistment process, but until the recruit is signed and sworn in, they are not required to enlist and owe the military nothing. Recruits shouldn’t take whatever the liaison has to offer but go for the job they want. The ASVAB can be retaken, bonuses change every few months, and waivers for certain jobs take time. No recruit should ever be forced into taking a job they do not want, but it is the recruit’s job to get what they want, not the recruiter’s or the liaison’s.
While MEPS may seem intimidating with the fingerprint sign ins and the early wake up call it is not the real military. Recruits should view MEPS as a necessary stop on their way to serving in the military. To make the transition easier, remember to be polite, on time, and that the wait is necessary and is nothing personal.