This post is going to be an overview of my first time at MEPS from Sunday to Monday to give first timers a piece of mind about it all. I had to stay overnight at a hotel because I didn’t live close enough to MEPS, some recruits did and met us there in the morning. Keep in mind every experience will be a little different but it is really nothing to worry about overall. When I am writing I will be referring to two groups often: recruits (myself and others like me i.e. pooles) and shippers (those leaving for basic)
Several Army recruits met at a local Armed Forces Recruiter Office at noon. We were debriefed and told what to expect and how questioning at MEPS works. I was given an envelope with my paperwork I needed for MEPS. A shuttle came to get us, it had two shippers on it and we were taken to Charlotte. Shuttles may have to pick up at several stops so don’t expect to go straight to the hotel.
We got there around 3, thankfully one of our shippers knew the drill because the recruiter at the office failed to let us know what to do when we arrived. He said we’d meet upstairs at 4 with all the others here for military processing in a lounge area that was specifically for recruits and shippers. So for an hour we created a “squad” and bonded in the lounge.
At four we went to the lounge, we were given the rules sheet we had to sign. It pretty much said the following.
- No drinking
- You and your roommate only in your room
- Socializing in common areas is fine
- Curfew at 10, wake up call 4:30, bus leaves at 5:30. Breakfast between 4:30 and 5:25
- If you leave sign out
- Don’t bang anyone
They informed us we got a free dinner in the restaurant. Then we were given our roommate assignments and checked into our rooms.
My roommate and I had already been hanging out all day due to coming from the same station. We had a nice room at the Embassy Suites. Literally the rest of the evening our “squad” hung out and had a decent night. I crashed at 9:30 and got up the next day at 3:30 from excitement of the unknown.
My roommate and I were up at the same time. We chatted got ready and went down right at 4:30 to have breakfast. We were given warning from our recruiter about what to eat, too much sugar and protein blows your urine test, and we were instructed to drink tons of water. We each had two bottles of water at breakfast, some eggs, tots, one piece of toast, and two strips of bacon. Both our tests came back fine so we seemed to pick the right meal. One girl who processed that day did blow her first urine test, so it is possible!
At 5:30 we were lined up, rolled called, put on two buses and drove about 10 minutes to MEPS. We exited the bus and were organized into groups. You’re separated twice: first by branch, next by recruit or shipper. Then your liaison gives you a sticker with your name, branch, and what you’re here for on it. Mine read something like: US ARMY DAV, Emily ____, Full Med, Special Testing, Other Special.
I had to get my full medical exam, take the TAPAS, and get my security interview done. I noticed my roommates said DEP and maybe enlist as well (she signed her contract that day)
Afterwards we went through a metal detector, turned our bags in, and were checked in at the control desk, then sent to our branch office. Your liaison touches base with you to review what you need to do that day. Mine was a little upset because I hadn’t taken the TAPAS yet but it wasn’t that big of deal. Next we were sent back to the control desk where finger prints were taken and a picture. It was to help personnel check you in at different stations. Next was supposed to be the medical briefing.
There is where my MEPS experience will be different than some others because they were trying something new that day. The only reason I know is because I heard one of the Navy guys who worked at MEPS bitching about it to one of their med techs.
We had to wait a little for our briefing so they started some of our tests we had already consented to with the form you sign with your recruiter.(This is the part that is different I guess they usually don’t do any tests before briefs) I did my hearing test, it was super simple. You’re locked into a sound proofed room, put head phones on, and click when you hear beeps. I passed, that’s all I know.
After that our brief started, you review each document from a packet and how to fill them out. DO NOT GO AHEAD. Some require specific answers and you will get yelled at if you do. It’s easy, just time consuming. The person doing our brief was super funny, the whole staff at Charlotte is exceptional actually. They were all really social, joked around with us, and nice. They let us recruits talk to one another (I guess some MEPS are nearly silent) It made it less awkward. You get your blood pressure and take a breathalyzer test during your brief too. After the brief IF YOU’RE A TESTER GO TO TESTING THIS MEANS ANY TEST ON THE COMPUTER. If not, rumor had it you’d be there forever and might have to come back a second day and that gets people pissed at you. I left to take my TAPAS and it was about 25 minutes total, including time in the hallway waiting.
The first thing I did when I got back to medical was pee in a cup as someone watched. They did the proteins, sugar, and pregnancy test from this. Afterwards blood was taken, and then my vision test. Next station was in a backroom separate from the males and all the female recruits who were done testing were back there. We had our height and weight taken, lots of waiting then had our first private interview with a doctor plus a female chaperon. You go over your medical forms and go into detail about your yes answers. After that he checked my arms, neck, and mouth. I was sent back out to change into a paper gown. During this time all the girls were just social and entertaining one another. It helps break the ice that you’re all naked in paper gowns. We were taken in one by one to complete the next part of the exam.
The doctor will check your breathing and heart. He will do a quick breast exam for lumps. Check your abdomen too. Then your legs will go into stirrups for literally less than a minute and it is a quick glance and check of the vulva and you’re sitting up again. I almost laughed at how stupidly nervous I was for it.
You got back into the room and change for the underwear Olympics. The last step before check out from medical is a final review. You sign everything saying you agree and they let you know of anything they found from your testing. For example they mentioned my astigmatism from my eye exam but I was still medically cleared.
You take your papers to the medical counter and they make copies to take down to your liaison in the branch office. Your liaison then tells you what else you have left for the day but you may go eat lunch first. It was subway in a small cafeteria, nothing special.
Once again after this point depending on why you’re there you will have a different day than me.
When I came back all I had to do was my security clearance interview because I am submitting an officer packet which requires a different submission process. Then it was lots of waiting around until everyone traveling on my shuttle was done too. MEPS has an USO lounge with snacks, movies, and games so you’re allowed to hang out in there too. My roommate however got to do the following: fill out a questionnaire, finalized her MOS selection, swore in, and signed her contract.
After that we checked out at the control counter and got on the shuttle. Any questions?