15 November 2010

The Military Entrance Processing Station

On Tuesday, November 9, at 7:29 AM, I received a call from my recruiter after 2 months of waiting for word from the higher-up about my MEPS visit.

2. HQ approval of prescreen
3. Physical examination at MEPS
4. AFSC selection
5. Oath of enlistment
6. DEP
And I learned that the SG (Surgeon General) approved my shoulder condition and gave MEPS the green light to process me. When the staff sergeant hears the word from MEPS, I'll be going in. Could be weeks, months.


4 words that sum up the dreaded MEPS experience: "Hurry up and wait."
The reason for the 2-month wait, bullet fashion:
1. My initial prescreen form, Department of Defense Form 2807-2 (DD 2807-2), was disapproved by MEPS due to a shoulder dislocation 5 years ago.
2. Recruiter sent my papers up to SG for review.
3. Exactly 2 months later, HQ approved my condition.
4. Recruiter is currently waiting on MEPS to schedule my physical.

The overnight stay at MEPS has been described as an unpleasant one for many. On Day 1, the prospective recruit sits for the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), a computerized exam assessing one's eligibility for different occupational fields in the Armed Forces. Whether or not one qualifies depends on his resulting AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) percentile score (highest being 99% percentile).

Day 2 is when the real fun begins.
Hurry up and wait - for 12 hours.
Beginning at ~0415, the physical examination, carried out by an MPO (Medical Profile Officer), begins and may not end until ~1730.

Assuming the prospective recruit isn't DQ'ed (disqualified) - and there are plenty of conditions the MPO can get you for (my biggest worry is my eyesight) - he will then sit with a counselor, who will help him  select  and rank his preferred jobs in the military - in the Air Force, they're called AFSC, or Air Force Specialty Codes. A complete enlisted AFSC listing can be found in the AFECD (Air Force Enlisted Classification Directory).

Based on my AFQT, my recruiter recommended that I try out for the cryptologic linguist AFSC. My personal preference: AFSC 1N3X4, Far East Cryptologic Linguist (Japanese). Whether or not I am assigned to this AFSC will depend on
1. Me even qualifying at MEPS
2. The need for Japanese linguists in the AF
3. My DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery) score (highest possible score is 176)

There are 4 language categories (in parentheses are the qualifying DLAB scores):

Cat. I (85)
Cat. II (90)
Cat. III (95)
Cat. IV (100) 

Depending on how high one scores on the DLAB, he will qualify for one or more of the categories. Japanese is a Cat. IV language. 

Finally, all qualified recruits will sign their contracts and participate in the Oath of Enlistment Ceremony.

Like every other potential recruit, I'm at the mercy of MEPS, and there will definitely be many more stops along the way.

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