Once an individual has talked to a recruiter and made a commitment to serve, he or she sets a date to visit a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to finish the enlistment process.
The MEPS is a joint-Service organization that determines an applicant’s physical qualifications, aptitude and moral standards as set by each branch of military service. There are MEPS locations all over the country. Here are a few things a recruit should keep in mind for the visit:
- Bring a Social Security card, birth certificate and driver’s license
- Remove piercings, and do not wear clothing with obscene images
- Bring glasses or wear contacts, and bring along an eyeglass or contact lens case and solutions
- Get a good night’s sleep, and arrive early
Candidates officially complete the process of joining the Military once they meet all of the requirements at the MEPS. This process may take up to two days. Food and lodging are usually provided for candidates.
Step 1: Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
The ASVAB is a multiple-choice exam that helps determine for which careers an individual is best suited. Both traditional pen-and-paper exams and a computer-based version are available. The ASVAB takes approximately three hours to complete and has questions about standard school subjects like math, English, writing and science. Each Service uses a custom combination of ASVAB results to produce scores related to different career fields.
Note that some high schools offer and administer the ASVAB test to their students. If a recruit has already taken the test, he or she should inform his or her recruiter and see if his or her results are still valid.
Step 2: Pass the physical examination
A recruiter will discuss physical requirements with recruits beforehand. The physical is a regular medical exam, similar to what you would receive at a family doctor.
- Height and weight measurements
- Hearing and vision examinations
- Urine and blood tests
- Drug and alcohol tests
- Muscle group and joint maneuvers
- Specialized test if required (pregnancy test for women, body fat percentage test for those who are overweight, tests relating to any unusual medical history)
Step 3: Meet with a counselor and determine a career
At this point, a service enlistment counselor meets with each recruit to find the right job specialty. A few different factors contribute to career selection:
- Needs of the Service
- Job availability
- ASVAB score
- Physical requirements (for example, a recruit needs normal color vision for some careers)
- Recruit preference
Explore potential career fields here.
The service enlistment counselor will also go over the enlistment agreement with the recruit. It is important to understand this fully before signing. When a recruit signs this agreement, he or she is making a serious commitment to the Military!
At this time, recruits are also fingerprinted for their files, which are required for background checks and security clearances.
Step 4: Take the oath of enlistment
Once the recruit’s career has been determined, he or she is ready to take the oath of enlistment. In this statement, the recruit vows to defend the U.S. Constitution and obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Family members are invited to watch and take photos.
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 of Military Justice. So help me God.
Step 5: After the MEPS
The new recruit now does one of two things, depending on the terms of his or her enlistment:
- Direct Ship – The recruit reports to Basic Training between two days and two months after completing MEPS testing requirements. (It varies based on job assignment and branch.) A recruiter will provide instructions on transportation to Basic Training at this time.
- Delayed Entry Program (DEP) – The recruit commits to Basic Training at a time in the future, generally within one year. This is especially popular with recruits who enlist before completing high school. Recruits enrolled in DEP may return to their homes until the time comes to report for duty.
Remember, a recruiter can answer any additional questions a recruit has about the enlistment process.