From the Final Oath to Arriving at Basic

Recruits receive oath of enlistment.

After the paperwork is all done, you'll be sent back to the main waiting room to wait. You may have to wait here for awhile, while they get everyone else through the process.

Then it's time to gather all your family and friends, if they came with you, and proceed back to the auditorium to swear in. Again, if you previously enlisted in the Reserves or National Guard, you won't be swearing in again. You sworein (for the final time) the last time you were at MEPS.

Tip: While your family and friends are certainly invited to this final swearing-in ceremony, they're not welcome to hang out with you during the rest of the process. They'll have to kill time in the waiting room or coffee shop (if available)until it's time to swear in.

At some point, a commissioned officer will enter and give a little speech. He will probably tell you (and everyone else) what a big step this is in your life,and not to waste it, and so on, and so on.

Then, he will ask you to raise your right hand, and repeat these words:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code ofMilitary Justice. So help me God.

Congratulations. You're now in the U.S. Military. You're subject to legal orders and entitled to military pay and benefits. In other words, as the song goes, "You're in the Army now. You're not behind a plow."

Remember: From now on, if you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. Ifyou're late, you're dead.

Saying Farewell to Family and Friends

If your family and friends accompanied you on this final MEPS trip, after the swearing-in is a good time to say goodbye because you won't see them againfor a few months.

At most MEPS locations, you can sit with your loved ones at a coffee shopwhere you can spend your last minutes before you ship out to basic.

Warning: Make sure that you don't leave MEPS or lose track of time. The MEPS recruiting personnel should have told you what time to be out front to catch the bus orshuttle to the airport. Don't miss that bus or shuttle.

Your friends and family are not allowed to ride with you on the bus or shuttle, so this last time together is a good time to say your final goodbyes. When you arrive at the airport, you'll go through airport security to the departure gate immediately, so I don't recommend that your family and friends go to the airport on their own because they won't be able to spend any time with youthere.

Figuring Out Who's in Charge

Who's in charge of this goat-rope? Quite possibly, you are. Before you leave MEPS, each service branch will appoint one recruit to be in charge of all other recruits of your branch, until you arrive at your basic training location. The person-in-charge is responsible to watch everyone in their group, to make sure that they don't get into trouble, and to make sure that they get onthe flight they're supposed to.

Tip: Actually, I don't recommend volunteering for this duty. First of all, you're babysitting a bunch of kids, many of whom have never been away from home. Trying to get them where they need to be at the time they need to be therecan be a daunting task.

If someone gets misplaced, you can be sure that you will be the very first person in your basic training unit to get chewed out upon arrival, even if you did everything right. It doesn't sound fair, but welcome to basic training!

From Basic Training for Dummies, copyright © 2011 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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