So I’ve thought about this for a while and even consulted my recruiter. He said it’s fine. I can blog about it.
I started the process of joining the military about 7 months ago. It’s been a long process but so far so good. I haven’t lost my desire to fly but I want to do it in a systematic manner that doesn’t leave me in a tonne of debt and restrict my free movement whenever I want to be.
I was interested in a few branches of the military but they all didn’t have openings for non-citizens, namely the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves. I chose active duty Air Force had a lot of requirements. For me the biggest obstacle was getting my medical records.
The recruiter asked a couple of questions and I answered affirmative on one of those. Have you ever had any surgery..Yes, I had an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) reconstructive surgery way back in 2010 at Nairobi Hospital. Just by virtue of giving a ‘Yes’ answer, I had to provide all the hospital records, surgeon’s notes, physiotherapy notes and progress reports.
It took a while but courtesy of my girlfriend in Nairobi and cooperative Nairobi Hospital, my surgeon Dr. Timothy Kagoda Byakika (Upper Hill Medical Center) and my physio Mutisya (Nairobi Physiotherapy Services) I was able to get all my records via DHL. I took them in to the recruiter and they were sent in for a medical waiver. It’s a waiver by the Surgeon General of the US Air Force exempting you from disqualification from serving. My waiver came through a couple of weeks later. It was a nerve wracking experience but it ended well.
Next I was required to study for the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), It’s a test that you have to do before you can join any of the branches. I studied for about 3 weeks and I was still not ready but I had to do it. My recruiter booked me for the exam and I reported to the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in downtown Houston for the 3 hour ordeal. It wasn’t so bad. It was a multiple choices test. It basically consists of the following :-
Computerized Test Format
- General Science (GS) – 16 questions in 8 minutes
- Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) – 16 questions in 39 minutes
- Word Knowledge (WK) – 16 questions in 8 minutes
- Paragraph Comprehension (PC) – 11 questions in 22 minutes
- Mathematics Knowledge (MK) – 16 questions in 20 minutes
- Electronics Information (EI) – 16 questions in 8 minutes
- Automotive and Shop Information (AS) – 11 questions in 7 minutes
- Mechanical Comprehension (MC) – 16 questions in 20 minutes
- Assembling Objects (AO) – 16 questions in 16 minutes
It wasn’t easy to be honest but it had to be done. Your fingerprints are taken and those are used to go into the exam room with. Kinda smart considering you might wanna try some tricks. All you have is a computer, a pencil, piece of paper to do your rough work on and a plain white keyboard with A,B,C,D and ‘HELP’ on it. Nothing else. We were about 30 of us wanting to join the different branches (Army, Marines, Navy, Airforce, Coast Guard). I got a 79. Not too bad everything considered. You get your scores as soon as you finish your exam. Computerization is a good thing I tell you. How long do we have to wait for our national exams back in Kenya? Yea, I know.
Getting my finger prints was quite an affair by the way. The lady doing them tried every trick in the book and for some reason my prints were not registering on the computer. Lets just say I ended up using my middle finger as my sign in. It’s the only finger that could register a faint print.
In addition to the medical waiver, there is also a tattoo waiver. If you have any form of tattoo you have to get a waiver depending on where the tattoo is. If it’s in a place that can’t be covered by uniform then too bad you can’t join. The Air force is very unforgiving about tattoos. The Army, Marines and Navy not too much. I don’t have any tattoos so I didn’t need to do that.
To be continued..