What is MEPS Like? | St. Louis

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What is MEPS like? St. Louis | Rose Colored Water

Last week, I described my experience taking the ASVAB and the score I received. Today I want to describe my MEPS experience as a whole. It is a little more untraditional than what other recruits go through, since I work full-time and I only live about 10 minutes away from the MEPS building.

Monday Afternoon | Checking In & ASVAB Testing

I met with my recruiter and he gave me a packet of information with all the forms I filled out. I talked about this when I wrote about the beginning process of joining the Air Force. He went over everything that would happen and how things would go. He made sure all my medical answers matched my medical form. That’s one of the biggest deals. We also had to check to make sure my ringworm had healed enough to pass the physical, as you can have no ailments of any kind when processing through the physical. After we were all clear, I headed home to pack my bags.

First, I packed all of my vital information {license, passport, birth certificate, H.S. and college diplomas, SS card}. I was told to wear plain shirts with no writing and nice pants/jeans with no holes etc. I took off all my nail polish (just to be on the safe side). I read somewhere that they sent one girl home for that at the physical. My recruiter said he’d never heard of something like that, but different MEPS have different employees, and you just never know.

I also packed my journal, phone charger, etc. Even though I live close, staying at the hotel would make the process much easier since you have to check in at 6 a.m. for processing.

Once I was sure I had everything I needed, my fiance dropped me off at the MEPS building around 2:30. I had to go through a metal detector, then I headed up to the 10th floor where all MEPS stuff happens. First, you are told to go to your liaison. Every branch has one and it’s your only safe place in the building. The people who work in the liaison office are kind of like recruiters. They’re fun, down-to-earth, but firm.
This office is where you’ll leave your belongings while processing. When I got there, they checked my paperwork and directed me to the testing office. They told me to turn off my phone and keep it off, because if I was caught with it outside of their office, I’d be sent away. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. I saw a guy get sent home right after they told me that, then I saw another girl get sent home because she had a phone with her in the ASVAB testing room. Just turn it off and leave it in your bag! It’s not worth being delayed or embarrassed.

When I arrived in the testing lab, a sign said to be silent, so I spoke to no one. They verified who I was and then I waited in line until there was a space for me to test. A Navy guy was running the station, and he was NO non-sense.

I’ve already talked about the ASVAB, so you know how that went. I took my score back to my liaison, celebrated, and then headed over to the hotel. When you go to the hotel, they will direct you to a room that is dedicated to the military peeps. This is where you will meet all the other new recruits trying to get through processing. The room has snacks, drinks, wifi, gaming systems, couches, etc. It’s the “hangout” area. The lady who runs that area will go over the rules and regulations and assign a room and roommate for you. You are allowed to leave the hotel, but you do have a curfew. They will also give you a meal voucher for dinner and breakfast.

After finding my room, I left my stuff and called Mike to come get me so we could go out. We celebrated by going to the Cheesecake Factory. Unfortunately, that was the beginning of a bad head cold for me. I developed a headache and slept like crap that night. My roommate stayed up watching tv until 11 p.m., despite us having a 4:30 wake-up call. She was a Navy gal who had been to MEPS three times already. She had a lot issues getting qualified and had a lot of advice for me on acing the physical.

Tuesday | Physical, Job Selection, Swearing In

Tuesday morning, I woke up long before the wake-up call from the hotel because I had slept like crap and felt horrible. I couldn’t breathe, my head was pounding, and I was too scared to take medication because I didn’t want anything showing up in my blood work. My nose was running non-stop and I knew I had a 10 hour day ahead of me. Not the best way to start the day.

My roommate and I headed down to breakfast at 5 a.m. It was okay – typical hotel buffet food. They had juice and milk, but no coffee. You’re told not drink any kind of caffeine in the morning because it can raise your blood pressure and possibly disqualify you. Who knows, right?

At 5:45, the hotel security does a roll call and you line up in that order. They escorted us over to MEPS (since the building is directly behind the hotel). We were told to be quiet and to turn off our phones once inside the building. We all had to go through the metal detector. Thankfully my last name started with a “C” at the time, so I didn’t have to wait long.

I headed up to my liaison office and they checked me in (and several others) and we headed over to the physical area. Now, I read a lot of info about MEPS before I went, making me scared to death of what might happen, but my experience was not bad. The staff was funny and nice, but firm with us. As long as you kept quiet and did what they said, you were fine.

They took my blood pressure and got my height and weight first. There were only two other girls going through the physical that day and they were Navy. My roommate was not one of them. She was there for some additional paperwork, so I didn’t see her again after our initial roll call.

Basically, you’ll take standard vision and hearing tests. At some point, they’ll take you all in a room and talk about MEPS as a whole and the process you’re going through, as well as what kind of behavior is expected from you. You’ll fill out another medical form while there, as well as some other forms about privacy and sexual harassment. It’s a very big deal now since the scandals that happened in 2011 at Basic Military Training.

Once that’s all done, you’ll continue on with the physical. When I took the vision test, they finally noticed that I had been sniffling a lot, and almost sent me home. Be warned! I got lucky. Another place may send you home. Thankfully, they just made me wear a really dumb mask to protect everyone.

They’ll take your blood and do a pee test. They do watch you pee. It’s not as awkward as it sounds. A woman will watch you do your business and if she can’t see the cup, she’ll tell you to make sure she can see it. Our lady was nice. I had no issues. Once those parts of the physical are over, they’ll take the girls into a room and tell you to undress, but to leave your undergarments on. They’ll give you those paper robe things. Then, you’ll watch a video on how to do these exercises so a doctor can make sure your joints and bones are right. They’re pretty silly, but everyone has to do them.

Once that’s complete, you’ll go back into the room and take off your underwear and bra. You’ll then wait to be seen by the doctor who will check your ears, mouth, lungs, etc. He’ll feel your breasts and quickly look down at your privates (including your butt) to make sure you’re a girl and not hiding anything. It’s quick and painless, but he will touch you.

The whole physical can take anywhere from 6-7 hours, so be prepared for it. Don’t even try it if you are sick in any way. I got so lucky and made it through fine, but one girl who had a cough was denied that day because they wanted to ensure she didn’t have pneumonia. She had to make an appointment to come back in and get a chest x-ray.

If you make it through, they’ll let you go for lunch. Then you’ll head back up to your liaison’s office and they’ll prepare you to be fingerprinted and checked for security stuff. That doesn’t take long. If you have time after that, you’ll talk jobs.

They’ll give you a list of jobs you’re qualified for based on your ASVAB. You can choose 8 different AFSCs and 2 general areas like Electrical or Mechanical, or you can choose 10 AFSCs and no general areas.

At the end of the day, you’ll swear into the DEP, or Delayed Entry Program. You will become an official member of the military and will be considered Reserves. However, if you decide that all the choices you made up to this point were wrong, you can get out, though it won’t look good and your recruiter may despise you.

You’ll stay in the DEP until you are given a AFSC and a time to leave for Basic Military Training. I received a general aptitude area slot (read more about that here), but rumors say it can take several months before you get a slot and leave.

Anyways, that’s typically how MEPS goes. At least, that’s how it went for me. I ended up staying a second night at the hotel because I was taking the DLAB the next day. I’ll talk more about that test in another post.

If you have any questions about MEPS, please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!

Tell me what you think!