Overview I won't reveal my real name. Just call me "Jerry." This is part
4 of my run-through of experiences with the enlistment process. Here
I'll talk about finishing the Physical, job selection, and your final
moments at MEPS.
Finishing the Physical
You're not done yet! Now you have to take the report back to the center desk. Or you may have to do some tests over or have extra tests. I, for example, had a body fat percentage test. If you are overweight, they will test your body fat percentage. If you're within limits (depends on your service, but generally around 20% and under for men and 30% and under for women - check with your recruiter BEFORE you go to MEPS!), you're fine. Otherwise you can't enter! If, for example, you have a linebacker type build - big and bulky, but it's all muscle - you may very well be "overweight". The body fat percentage test would show that you're in good shape though. Body weight, as well as pregnancy, and HIV tests are things you could have checked back home to save yourself and MEPS a lot of trouble. If you think you're at risk of failing something at MEPS, save yourself the time and trouble and get it checked BEFORE you go. BY FAR the most 'popular' test to re-do is the urine test; some people get really uptight about it! My advice? Just relax and let it flow - thousands before you have gone through the same thing and lived to tell the tale.
Finally, after everything is signed off and approved, you will go
back to one final station to have forms copied, stamped and handed
in. You will talk again with a counselor, who will probably ask you
again if you have anything you wish to change. If not, you're done.
I don't know what happens if you do. I doubt they would arrest you,
but of course you risk having the application rejected and having
to start all over from scratch another day. That would be a bummer,
because by this time, you've already spent a good seven to ten hours
at MEPS! That's not even counting the ASVAB
and all of your time with the recruiter. Starting off with all your
cards on the table at the recruiter's office really helps.
Selecting your MOS/rating/specialty code is something that should not be too difficult while at MEPS, because you should have done all of the research and hard work beforehand! I'd like to take a moment now to point out a few things about this.
Number one, people seem to complain about recruiters a lot. "He told me this, he didn't tell me that." Well, I've seen three recruiters from three different branches, and talked with several via phone or Internet. I have never had a problem with a recruiter giving attitude or incorrect information.
Number two, I was surprised by the amount of indifference and ignorance people showed when asked about the jobs they had chosen or were going to choose. "I don't know" seemed to be the typical response to "what job do you want?" These people didn't have a clue as to what job they wanted! Ironically, enough, a lot of these people were the same ones who complained loudly about their recruiters being bad.
You've heard it before: be responsible for yourself. Pick several jobs that you would both qualify for and enjoy. If not, then let the "needs of the military" pick for you. Now, which way would you rather have it decided?
Back to the job counselor. There wasn't much for me to do, because I knew what I wanted - Cryptologic Technician Interpretive (CTI). Unfortunately, it was all filled up. The counselor scrolled through all sorts of dates but there were no spots, so instead I signed up as Cryptologic Technician Technical (CTT), and was put on the waiting list for CTI. Even if that doesn't happen though, I already know that any of the CT ratings will be good, so I am happy to get CTT.
The job counselor will ask you more questions, depending on what job it is. For example, they will ask you a bunch of legal and personal history questions if you're going for an intelligence or linguist job, since these require a security clearance. When you get your actual MOS/rating/classification code, you'll go over any benefits and bonuses with the counselor (be sure to get all of your questions answered). Then, you'll go through a computer registration and actually sign off on the paperwork. Almost there!
MEPS: Final Stages
Before you go, guess what? They want to ask you questions again. This is a one-on-one session with a counselor. He/she will review your contract and bonuses with you. They'll ask you quickly about your history with the law, drug use, health, etc. Hopefully you won't have to change anything, but if you need to change your answers, then do it here. This is the last chance for people who are withholding information to get it out in the open. If you were honest with your recruiter in the beginning, you'll have nothing to hide.
After these questions, you'll go over a few more cheery ones such as who to contact if you die. Then, they'll fingerprint you and send you back to your branch office to put all the paperwork together. After all of this, you march back to the front desk, hand in your paperwork, and take a seat for the final stage - swearing in!
By this time you are accustomed to waiting, so another half hour or so is nothing. When a good-size group is ready, they take you into a room and brief you on the swearing-in process. Finally you all stand as a fairly high-ranking officer addresses the group. He/she will go over a few points about the military, and then you take the oath of enlistment. Then you'll shake hands, the officer will sign off on your application, and - YOU'RE IN!!! Next stop, DEP or boot camp!
This is the final part in a series of articles. Other articles
in the series: