I finally went to MEPS… and I made it! As of yesterday I was officially sworn into the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). I have to admit- my MEPS experience was NOT nearly as scary as I predicted it to be.

I went up Thursday afternoon, stayed at a hotel up in Portland overnight with other recruits from all different branches and left Friday afternoon. Here’s the run down:

Thursday

10:00AM-12:00PM: I left my house to head up to my recruiter’s office which is about an hour away from me. Upon arriving at my recruiter’s office, I met another recruit who would be taking the shuttle up to Portland with me. We chatted with our recruiter (just so happened to have the same recruiter) and hung out until our shuttle driver arrived.

12:00PM-2:00PM: At around 2PM, we arrived to the MEPS building. We went up an elevator and when we got out, we had to go through a security check to make sure we weren’t carrying any weapons, etc.- very similar to going through airport TSA. Once we passed security we signed in at the main desk were given a nametag and instructed to goto a room down the hallway where we were briefed on the testing and had to read some paperwork. We ended up in a small room with ten or so computers. There was a woman who led you to a computer and set you up to take your test. I was only taking the PiCAT verification test this day, others were taking the ASVAB. I was extremely relieved upon completing the verification test and finding out that I passed it and was able to keep my test score. I highly suggest you ask your recruiter about the PiCAT especially if you are not a good test taker and have test anxiety- it made everything so much less stressful. There is a small chance that even if you pass the PiCAT verification test it will roll over into the full ASVAB for research purposes- luckily that did not happen for me. After I completed the verification test, I had to take two other short tests that the Air Force requires- a Cyber Test and a Personality Test. I was not prepared for these but I made it through. After I completed testing, the woman who was in the room instructed me to head back to the main desk for further instructions. I then was instructed to hang out in the lounge area. I was the first one finished with testing and regretted not taking a book or something with me to read because I was there for at least 3 hours. Luckily we were allowed to have our phones in there. Eventually one by one everyone started filling up the lounge area upon completing their testing. Around 6PM, the hotel shuttle came to pick us up to bring us to the hotel.

6:00PM-10:00PM: Once we made it to the hotel, we had no idea where we were going. I was the only female out of about 14 people. I ended up taking a leadership role and led our group to the main desk. I asked the woman where we were supposed to go and she instructed us to head to a specified suite on the first floor. We went in and were greeted by another woman who was our liaison at the hotel. We checked in with her and were briefed on how our hotel stay would go- what time to be up in the morning, what time we had to be in our rooms by, how to conduct ourselves, etc. At around 7:00PM, after dropping off our bags to our rooms, we went downstairs to the hotel dining room for dinner with our free meal tickets. Dinner was full of laughs- I had the chance to interact with all of the other recruits and we all got along really well. The food was also good and my hotel room was nice, I was thoroughly impressed. Luckily because I was the only female I had a whole room to myself. After dinner we had to go back to the suite we checked in at for a second briefing on what to expect at MEPS. There were video games and televisions in the suite for all of us to use. We had to be in our rooms by 10PM for lights out. Get some sleep because you will be up super early and it is a LONG day.

Friday

4:00AM-5:30AM: We all had an automated wake up call for 4:15AM. Breakfast was served at 5:00AM and the hotel shuttle departed for MEPS at 5:30AM. If you are close to your max weight like I am- eat a light breakfast. I had Special K cereal with skim milk and an apple. Also try to stick with water and drink lots of it- this will come in handy when you have to give your urine sample. Juices and caffeinated drinks can raise your blood sugar levels and heart rate so I would avoid them at all costs. I personally drank water and had some Chamomile tea.

6:00AM-11:00AM: We arrived back at the MEPS building. The men who greeted us had us line up and empty out half the contents of our bags so they could search us. This is where packing light comes in handy! After searching all of our bags we walked up a lot of stairs back to the area we had been in the previous day for testing. We were instructed to put our bags in a cubby and line up by the main desk when we were all squared away. One of the men at MEPS gave us a quick tour of all of the rooms we would need to know for the day and then told us to head to our branch’s liaison’s office. At the liaison’s office we checked in and were given a folder. We then had to take that folder back to the main desk. After I checked back in with the main desk I was off to the Medical Room. I was instructed to have a seat and a woman came over to take my heart rate and blood pressure (I was SO nervous for this because my heart rate is always super high whenever I go to the doctors because I get nervous for whatever reason). Then I was sent into a room to test my vision. After vision testing was hearing testing- this took a little longer because the equipment wasn’t working properly so we had to do it twice. After the hearing test I was sent to a room across the hall where I filled out a Red Cross card with my family’s information on it in case of an emergency and we read some paperwork. Myself and two other people were pulled out of this room and back into the Medical room across the hall. We were briefed by a woman and filled out some more paperwork relevant to our medical history before we were to meet with the doctor. We also gave our urine samples and gave blood for blood testing. I met with the doctor and he asked me some questions about my medical history. I then went to a different room with my chaperone (a female assigned to accompany me because the doctor was male) and stripped down to my bra and underwear to weigh in and get my height. I waited for the doctor to come in so I could show him my duck walk skills (LOL) and a couple other basic movements/exercises. Afterwards the doctor checked out my whole entire body top to bottom even the lady parts- awkwardish but it was quick. When my physical exam was over they sent me back out to the main medical room and I was all set. A woman gathered all my paperwork and made sure my folder was completed and then sent me back out to the front desk. From there it was easy- I had to take a couple trips back and forth between the main desk and my Air Force liaison’s office to fill out additional paperwork (lottttts of paperwork). I also took a quick weight test that consisted of me first lifting 50lbs then 60lbs, I tried for 70lbs but my arms gave out unfortunately as I wasn’t prepared. As long as you can lift the 50lbs you’re golden, 70lbs just qualifies you for additional jobs. With the paperwork also came my DEP contract. Once we finished up all of the paperwork I was sent into the lounge to hangout and eat lunch they provided. I also had to fill out a survey. Shortly after I was called out of the lounge- it was time to swear in! Of the 14 people there, only three of us swore into the DEP. We went into the ceremony room and were briefed by a MEPS employee on everything we’d need to know as far as our movements and what to say. An officer eventually came in and swore us in. It was a moment of relief, excitement and happiness. After the small ceremony, it was back to the lounge to wait for the shuttle to go back to my recruiter’s office.

Overall, my experience was positive. Like everyone else, I was so incredibly nervous. Being nervous is completely normal! You are joining the military and about to change your life completely- if you aren’t at least a little nervous you should be concerned. After you’re at MEPS for the first couple hours you start to realize “okay, this isn’t so bad”. To anyone going to MEPS, I wish you the best of luck and you will do great! If I had to give any advice it would be the following:

  1. Tell your recruiter everything about your medical history BEFORE you goto MEPS. They will make sure you have all the appropriate documents to ensure your success when you go to process. With that being said- do not add new things to your medical history at MEPS. Anything you tell the doctor at MEPS should have already been discussed with your recruiter BEFORE your trip to MEPS. Be as honest as possible with your recruiter, they are there to help you succeed.
  2. Try to stay calm. You will be fine!
  3. Be respectful to everyone you encounter at MEPS. Respect goes a LONG way. You get what you give.
  4. Keep your ears and eyes open at all times. Listen to and follow directions. And definitely do not let anyone catch you trying to snooze- they will yell at you!
  5. Lastly, be PREPARED. Have everything you need when you need it. Watch videos on YouTube of MEPS experiences. Know what you’re getting yourself into. The more prepared you go into it, the more successful you will be.