Don't waste your time trying to find the recruiter near you. Let us do the work.






Go For It: Part 3 - Hotel, MEPS and The Physical
Go For It
Part 3: Hotel, MEPS, and The Physical

 
 
Your health is important to the military - doctors will give you a thorough physical at MEPS.
September 11, 2003


Overview
Just call me "Jerry." This is part three of my run through of experiences with the enlistment process. Here I'll talk about MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) and the physical.

MEPS: The Hotel Stay and Getting to MEPS
You've taken the ASVAB and passed with flying colors. But before you go further with the military, they must of course determine whether or not you're physically fit enough to go!

I checked in to a hotel with about 150 other recruits on a Monday evening. We were free to do as we pleased within the hotel, but were not allowed to leave or go to the bar. Darn! Could have used a cold one...

Everybody just passes the evening reading, watching TV, maybe playing some games, having dinner, and listening to a little security briefing before going to sleep. I got to bed at a decent time, which was good, because they aren't joking when they tell you there will be an early wake up call - 4 a.m.! After throwing our things together and wolfing down Rice Krispies and eggs (yuck!), several buses took all of us over to MEPS. By 5 a.m. we were all lined up outside and waited to enter as they checked our bags. Once inside we were quickly lined up and given basic behavior instructions. The most important thing during MEPS is to not leave the building. If you do, you are automatically disqualified.

After hammering home this point, we were all given name stickers with a barcode. Everybody also got his/her paperwork, and proceeded to the first station. Here your long day begins! Get ready for 90% waiting and 10% annoying but necessary medical tests!

Read other articles about Joining the Military!

Join Up!: Article Archives


Thinking about Serving?

Get the information you need to decide if a military career is right for you. No obligation -- just free information from the branches of service that interest you.


Joining the Military

10 Steps to Joining the Military
Contact a Recruiter Now
Ace the ASVAB

The Physical
After checking in you will go to a room where they will give you an overview of your day. You will fill out a few forms and answer a bunch of medical questions - mostly the same ones your recruiter asked you before. You will be repeatedly warned against lying, and while my guess is that they won't arrest you for it, they will threaten you with arrest. At the very least they will not let you enter the military, perhaps never, so listen to your recruiter's advice and answer questions properly. Then they will give you a breathalyzer test (though it's hard to imagine anyone would have begun drinking at 4 in the morning!) and send you on your way.

One of the first tests you'll be given is the old pee-in-a-cup test. My comment here is to listen to the instructions - if you don't follow them, you have to do it all over again (oh the excitement). Then you'll wait and shuttle amongst different stations depending upon availability. You will be administered a blood test for AIDS. They will check your vision with several tests. Your hearing will be checked. They will take your weight and height. You will talk with one counselor about any allergies, previous medical incidents (i.e. broken bones, X-rays, hospitalizations), and your well-being. Men and women will be separated and inspected several at a time by several doctors in isolated rooms. Here you will be with 10-20 other people and they will run some basic flexibility, balance, and movement tests on you. No push-ups and running - they just make sure that all of your limbs are real (no joke), that there are no "surprises" about you (interpret that as you wish) and that your body has basic motion ability.

By this time you will be done with most tests. Up to now you may have been at MEPS anywhere from about three to six hours, depending on the number of people there. The final stages of MEPS involve you talking privately with a doctor or two. This stage length depends on the doctor - mine was super ssslllooowww and it took an extra three hours just to wait! Here the doctor will go over all of your records and tests, ask you again if you have anything to admit or change, and maybe he/she will talk a bit about your health, the military, etc. If all is well, he/she will sign off on your physical.

This is part 3 in a series of articles. Other articles in the series:

Part 1 - Overview, Initial Research and Meeting Your Recruiter
Part 2a - The ASVAB
Part 2b - The DLAB
Part 4 - Finishing the Physical, Job Selection, and Final Moments at MEPS