The next process involved going to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for a physical. There is a chance that most people won’t make it through the vigorous tests set in place to eliminate those with conditions that disqualify one from joining the military.
The process is long and starts very early. Due to this the military pays for one to spend the previous night in a hotel. The hotel was very decent. Crowne Plaza. I was supposed to report to the assigned hotel before 7.30pm on the day. You share a room with another member of the same sex even though they might be joining a different branch. I was paired with a guy joining the Army National Guard (ANG). Dinner is catered for. There is a briefing the same evening by a MEPS liaison. We were briefed on what was expected of us the following day. There were 2 groups. Us going for a physical and those shipping to boot camp. They get priority as they have flights to take across the country the following day.
Wake-up call was 3.45am. Breakfast was ready by the time we went downstairs. Everyone in the bus by 5. I had chosen to drive myself there and informed my recruiter. I followed the bus in my car to the MEPS location downtown. About 15 minutes away.
First order of business was a briefing. Stern warnings were issued about lying. Clean underwear was a must. No underwear and you are disqualified. You go home. No thongs for ladies. TMI if you ask me but hey, no shame in the forces.They could cost you time in jail..yes, the military doesn’t play around. Breathalyser test was done on all of us before the medicals started to see if anyone was high. We had been warned not to use mouthwash with alcohol the night before. Tattoo sheet was next. If you had one you fill out more paperwork. Then the same questions the recruiter asked you a couple of weeks earlier. For any ‘yes’ answer you provide an explanation.
Urine sample was given under supervision of a MEPS official. Yes, someone is present as you pee. They watch you. Quite unnerving having someone watch you pee I tell you. Next was a vision test. Lots of rapid tests..colors, depth perception etc. I failed depth perception. Hearing test was next. You press a button every-time some low sound goes off. Not easy but I’d done one before so it wasn’t so bad.
Getting blood drawn followed. The nurse couldn’t get a line and had to call for back-up. Two pricks on the same arm wasn’t my cup of tea, but it had to be done. Next we undressed and remained in boxers. We waited to go in to see the doctor. Imagine a couple of guys in boxers just sitting and waiting..hilarious.
Finally my turn to see the doctor came. He was an old dude. He already had my waiver in the file. Wanted to see the scar on my right knee. It was easy. I was in boxers 🙂 He then asked me to drop my boxers and inspected ‘down’ there for abnormal lumps and then wait for it..turn around, bend over and part your butt cheeks..yes..shocking but I had read about it but to hear it was something else. He was done in a second. Checking for hemorrhoids it is. That was a bit traumatic but I was expecting it.
Next were the exercise..walking on your knees, the ‘duck’ walk like we used to do as punishment in elementary school, marching, wrist movements, arm coordination, knee high kicks..all these in boxers..quite amusing.
I passed my medicals. Went to get fingerprints taken for FBI security background checks. Next was choosing jobs. You have to choose 10 jobs in order of priority. The job that you are interested in doing in the air force. There was lunch served in between all that.
The last order of business was the the Oath of Enlistment. It was done after a briefing about the Uniform Code of Military Justice chapters touching on desertion and AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave). Punishment is severe for those who do. The swear-in ceremony was short and voila..I was a member of the US Air Force Reserves..
“I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Why Reserves? I’m on DEP (Delayed Entry Program) for up to a year. I will not ship to boot camp until a job is available for me. This means you only go to boot camp if your technical school is ready. Until then I’m USAF inactive reserve.