What is MEPS like?
What is the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) like?
So you want to know what it's like going through MEPS? Maybe you're planning on enlisting, or maybe you're reenlisting. Maybe you're at MEPS now, bored out of your mind, so you decided to do some reading. It doesn't make much of a difference to them. MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station. MEPS is a long and tedious process that everyone enlisting in any branch of the military has to go through. If I had to describe it in three words, I would say "lots of paperwork." I'll be going through each step of the two day process that each enlistee experiences on their way to fighting for freedom.
Quick Summary (I'll go more in depth on each piece below)
1. Arrive at a government funded hotel room
2. Head to MEPS to take the ASVAB
3. Return to the hotel and spend the night
4. Wake up early and ride the bus back to MEPS
5. Spend the day taking various physical, mental, and eligibility tests
Number One: Arrive at the hotel
This is probably the most pain free portion of MEPS. Your local recruiter will drive you to the hotel, which is paid for by the branch of military you are joining. There will be food and amenities provided to you. Don't expect anything fancy. This is the government were talking about here. It will have all the basics: food, bathroom, bed, etc.
Number Two: Taking the ASVAB
Shortly after arriving at the hotel you will take a bus over to MEPS and either take the ASVAB, or verify your previous score. The ASVAB is scored on a percentile basis, so the highest score you can achieve is a 99th percentile. A 99th percentile score means you scored higher than or equal to 99% of other test takers. For those of you who have yet to take the ASVAB, it is a general intelligence test. There are ten sections ranging from mathematics to language to physics. Your aptitude will be measured in each of these categories. The test itself is around 2 hours total, but you will most likely spend double that time waiting for them to print a single piece of paper with your scores on it. This is because the government is slow.
Number Three: Head back to the hotel and spend the night
This one's pretty self explanatory. After you recieve your scores, you will spend more time waiting for other test takers to finish, and you will all head back to the hotel together. If you drove yourself, you may leave as soon as you have your scores. Once you're back at the hotel, the rest of the night is yours to do as you please. You can leave the hotel, and mingle with other enlistees. Don't do any drugs or drink any alcohol. That's a one way ticket to getting banned from all military service. For life.
Number Four: Wake up early...
I know what you're thinking. I can wake up early... 6:30, 7 o'clock. No biggie. Try 3:30AM. You have to be ready to check out at 5am, which means shower, shave, brush your teeth, and eat breakfast all before 5. At 5, you will check out, and once again, ride the bus back to MEPS. You will wait outside in the blistering cold before dawn, and go through security one at a time. The rest of the day is 90% waiting, 10% peeing in a cup.
Number Five: Spend the day taking various mental, physical, and eligibility tests
There are five main tests that you need to pass before completing MEPS. Vision, hearing, physical, breathalyzer, and drug test. The vision and hearing tests are just like the ones you took in elementary school. For vision, they have you read aloud letters of the smallest size you can make out. For hearing, they play a sound in each ear at different frequencies and volumes to test your sensitivity. The physical is much like a physical checkup at a doctor's office. They check your range of motion, and have you complete a few exercises. Nothing crazy, simple things like fast walking, duck walk, squatting, etc. You have to pass a breathalyzer to complete MEPS. No worries though, as long as you haven't had anything to drink in the last 24 hours. Alcohol is water soluble, which means your body processes it extremely fast. There will also be a more legitimate drug test later. You pee in a cup. Any substance you have taken in the last 30 days, that isn't water soluble, will appear on that test. This includes marijuana. The majority of drugs are water soluble, so weed is the real culprit that gets a lot of people disqualified.
Oh, and I forgot to mention. Between each of these tests is a solid hour to hour and a half of sitting in a chair, staring at a wall. Don't try and get your phone out, phones aren't boring enough. The idea is to keep you at your wits end so you spill everything they want to hear when they ask you questions. Seriously, even after I finished all of my tests, I went and got my phone, and they acted as if I'd committed some capital crime. What's even funnier is after they made me take my phone all the way back to the storage locker, I came back, and there was one of the guys working there, sitting in a chair, you guessed it, on his phone. LOL. Once you're done with all of these tests, you will once again wait for hours on end for everyone in your group to finish, so you can all go back to your local recruiting office together. Isn't the government just loads of fun? I getting jitters just writing about it.
That's pretty much it, though. Once you're back at the recruiting office it's just a matter of time before you head to boot camp, and serve your country. I hope you enjoyed my quick, detailed, but slightly more efficient than governemnt processing stations, article on MEPS. I appreciate you taking the time to read this.