My MEPS Experience
I had to meet my recruiter at 4am Monday morning, because we needed to be in Phoenix by 6am. MEPS is a whole day process, so you have to be there
early. So I meet him at 4, and we drive to Phoenix. I didn't sleep the night before because I was quite nervous, about what was going to happen
to me at MEPS, and about making sure that I can get up early enough. So by the time I got to Phoenix I was quite tired. Immediately upon entering
I saw I was there with about 75 other people. From the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Army. We all do it together. It's actually run by the
Department of Defense, not by the individual branches. So I got a name tag, which had my name, what I was doing there that day (taking the ASVAB and
getting a physical) and what branch I was applying to be in. Let me stress that the military is very particular about who they let in and who
they disqualify. It's not like you just sign up, you have to be pretty much a perfect person. Perfect Health, good background record, all that
stuff. So I was nervous about everything. Anyhow, this is a pretty large building in downtown Phoenix, which they only use for military processing.
They do it 6 days a week, year round. So the people there see a lot of recruits. My recruiter told me before I left that "it's the recruiter's job
to get you into the Army, and it's the MEPS people's job to get you disqualified". Which isn't entirely true, but at MEPS if you have even the
smallest problem that comes up, your day is done. So I was nervous.
Anyhow, we go up to the 6th floor, all the other 75 guys, and 25 of them leave right away because they were getting shipped out to basic that day. So I was with 50 other people who had the same goals as I did. So then we wait. We waited for about 45 minutes, just sitting in a big flourencently lit room, nobody knowing each other, bored as hell, and I was damned tired. Then this Marine comes out and starts yelling out stuff about what we had to do that day. It was pretty intimidating right away, and that took about 20 minutes. Then we had to get papers from our branch and move to another place. I was second in line, so it was good, went fast for me. I got to the front desk, and they told me I was missing a sheet. So I had to wait in the back of the line, then go to another line, and wait in the back of that. It went from waiting in line for about 5 minutes to waiting 45 minutes. That sucked. Then I was good, went downstairs to another room, where the guy who ran the place came out and talked to us for about a half hour. He was quite cool, which was surprising considering the horror stories I've heard about MEPS. Then a Army medic came and told us about how our day was going to go, then a head doctor had to guide us through a bunch of forms, and he was cool as hell too. So that was nice, surprising that everyone seemed to be in a good mood. So that whole ordeal took about 2 hours, boring boring boring. Man, I was thinking that this was going to be about the longest day of my life at that point.
Next was the ASVAB. I did well on the practice test, but I still bought a book to help me along, work on the things that I wasn't good at. The ASVAB is a test that measures how good you are at just about everything mentally. There is a math, science, reading, vocab, mechanics, spatial thinking, and some other stuff on the test, 10 sections in total. Well, we sit down to the test, and my monitor is fuzzy, which sucks ass. So I start the test, and it was damned harder than I thought it was going to be. I was so pissed taking it. Pissed that my book wasn't harder, that the practice test wasn't harder. I was mad. So I expect my score to be all shitty, but I don't find out until the end of the day. The test was quite a bit different than what the book and the internet told me it would be as well. Anyway, I still was the second one done. I have always taken tests fast. The math stuff I usually do backwards, putting the answers into the equations, as opposed to working them all out, but I still was the second one done. I thought I was moving pretty slow too, but finishing so fast didn't help my confidence with the test results that much either.
The ASVAB out of the way, it was time to start the most "thorough physical" of my life. Which it was. I got some blood taken right away, then I met my doctor. The guy that would be administering the physical on me. I was definitely nervous about this. He's be checking out me completely, and the one that would tell me if I'm healthy, of if I have problems. I haven't had a physical since high school, and I've had a large amount of things come up that could have prevented me from joining the military. So i figured I'd try to chat with him a bit. Help him remember that we are people that they do tests on. You know, it's safe to assume the doctors get pretty distant from parts of their work because they do so many physicals in a day. So I starting talking about some lame story how I always shiver after I give blood because I used to donate so much plasma when I was in college. You know, they put saline in you that is room temperate (70 degrees) and your body is 98, so it makes your whole body cold. This guy was pretty old, but starting talking about how he used to donate blood in college as well, and always spent the money on poker games. So we got along ok. He did some basic stuff, and I checked out ok. Then he told me I was flat footed, so I thought I was screwed. I told him that I don't have any pain in my feet when I walk or run (lie) so he said I was ok then. Then he did the whole "turn the head and cough" thing, the he said "turn around, bend over and pull your cheeks apart with your hands. He had to check for hemorrhoids, which you can get disqualified for. I've never had my ass checked out by anyone before, so this was a little awkward, but I don't have any of those, so I was ok. Then I got to go into a big room to perform some exercises, but I had to wait for 4-5 other guys.
That took about an hour. Sitting in the room for the longest time, waiting for people to get done. I was alone for at least a half hour, then it was better when a few other people came in, all of us in the boxers only, chatting about pointless stuff. I of course wanted to talk about my asshole getting checked out by the doctor. After a little over an hour, we had enough guys. So another doctor besides mine came in to watch us do this stuff. This doctor was cool as hell. He was this old black guy that was hilarious. He kept calling me scooby because I was wearing some scooby-doo boxers that Jamie gave me for Valentine's Day a few years ago. But we'd have to do stuff like raise our leg, then lower it as fast as we could. The black doctor would always make us hold it for a while, then to lower it, he'd say "Kill", in his most southern accent possible. That was pretty fun though, and I passed that ok.
Now it was height and weight time. I knew I was over the weight limit. I have weighed 203 since I was a senior in high school. So what happens when you are over the weight limit (i had to weight 197), is get a body fat check. I did this extensive body fat check on me when I was in college for a class, so I knew I was ok. My head carried too much weight I think. Anyhow, they checked me out, and my fat was way higher than I thought it would be. So that sucked. I didn't think I had that much fat on me, but they did the test different than I did it, so it's probably off, and I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I still passed, which is all that really matters to me.
Now some hearing test. I hate hearing tests, You have to concentrate so hard, and I got a headache on that test, which took about a half hour in this room with a few other guys at the same time. I passed that, and then vision, which of course, I have perfect vision. 20/20 all the way around and then back again. I love having good vision. I couldn't begin to tell you how great my vision is. I think one of my distant relatives is a hawk. So the only thing left that I had to pass was the blood pressure.
I hate blood pressure checks. Almost everytime they've checked my BP they said I was high, and if you are high, you can't get into the Army. I was watching other guys do the tests, and saw a bunch of them had to stop and "relax", making me even more nervous. So I sat down, the lady put the arm band on, and I laid back, completely relaxed my body. I remembered what it was like when I got hypnotized, and then I thought about mowing lawn. Man was I relaxed. The lady checked me out, and I was 128/74, which is just about perfect blood pressure. I was pumped up about that. Then I had to meet with a senior doctor. The guy who checks out everything and signs off on me, saying I'm good enough to go in. He looked at it for about 10 seconds, told me I was in perfect health, and gave me a profile of 111111, which is as perfect as you can be. So physically, I was able to do anything in the Armed Services. I was really happy about that. It's good to know that I'm in perfect health after not seeing a doctor for so long. Granted, they didn't check for Tumors or anything like that, but it was pretty expansive. Back up to floor six to negotiate a job.
I met with the senior Army guy, and he looked over my physical papers, and said that I was perfect, and gave me a guy to talk to about a job. I met him, he gave me a form, asked me what I wanted to do. I told him Computers or Communications. So he told me to come back in a few minutes. I got my picture taken for my ID, and that was a whole strange ordeal that left the guy who took my pic and myself pretty much rolling on the ground with laughter, but I'm too lazy to type that all up. So I met with the guy, and he told me that I could have any job in the two fields that i wanted to. I asked him what my ASVAB score was, and he said an 80, then I looked at how it broke down in skill levels, and I was over 120 in all of them. Not really a terriffic score, I really would have liked to have done better, but my score qualified me for pretty much everything. So nothing was holding me back for what job I wanted. Perfect health and a decent ASVAB score.
So the guy mentioned a few jobs, but I wasn't really listening. I told him I wanted to be a computer tech, and he said that was the first thing he thought of for me, but it was closed. I told him that the night before I looked up the class schedule and saw there were two openings on a website I spent about 2 days searching for, so he said he'd look it up. He brought up the same site I did, but it showed closed. Damn, two people already got the job from somewhere else. Then he mentioned a few other jobs he thought I might like, and I wasn't really interested in them either. So he said that I really should consider the first one he said. That my scores were best for that one, and that it's not very easy to get into, because you need perfect health and you need to be smart. So I asked him to explain it some more, and it was looking pretty good to me. Drive big trucks, fix big trucks, operate a lot of big equipment, use computers to diagnose and fix problems, and the sign on bonus was really good. I work with a crew of guys, and we always travel together. We decide where we want to go, based on performance. So I took it, that's the Patriot missile systems operator. It's like a whole combination of a bunch of other jobs. The training is pretty long too, and I get a secret clearance, which is big time marketable in the civilian world. I'm quite excited and glad I got that job. It's dangerous, which is always fun, but I don't necessarily have to kill anyone. I'd be more of a target than I would be an offensive weapon, and that suits me just fine. If I have to choose taking a chance that a bomb will fall on me, or having to shoot people with a gun, I'll take the bomb. If I die that way, it can't be that bad anyhow. Much better than dying in a plane crash anyhow.
So I got sworn in that day. That's how I became "Army".