Thanks to an anonymous candidate who shared his recent experience at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) for your preparation and awareness.
The Mindset for MEPS
I actually really enjoyed MEPS and I think that was because of the mindset I had going in with. Before going I had heard from everyone at my OSO office that it was going to be annoying, boring, obnoxious, and terrible, and I decided to just enjoy the experience.
One reason I think it was enjoyable was that I was surrounded by people who all wanted to serve in the military (for one reason or another). It was also a start to act as an officer and a leader, since most (like 99%) of the people there were going enlisted. Once the younger men and women know that you are applying to be an officer, they will follow your lead, so this means to show up ready.
I had to be there at 4:50am at the latest to be there “on time”, I got there more like 4:30 because I was nervous about being late. The security guard was this big intimidating guy and had us line up in four lines, he then went through the rules etc and he yelled at us a bit. For some reason being yelled at in military fashion was pretty awesome!
4:50-5:30 a tired Army sergeant gave us the rules for the day, and this is the first out of 100 times you will see the “Do not lie or else you will be sent to jail etc.”
5:30-6:00 checked in with the Marine Corps office there. Once they knew that I was an Officer candidate they treated me much differently (both in a good way and in a not-so-good way). In one sense they treated me like an adult but that also came with a higher standard, so if I didn’t answer their question fast enough they would just yell at me for not being on top of my game. I called everyone there sir/ma’am, regardless if there were enlisted, officers, civilians, doctors etc. seemed to work out well for me.
6:00-7:30 hurry up and wait. This is where the lines got really long because checking in at the medical stations up stairs is one at a time, and there were around 100-150 people there, took about a minute each per person.. However it was during this time that I actually started to have a good time because I got to talk to everyone in line about what branch of service they wanted to do, why they wanted to, and we all started to bond. We were all tired, bored, our feet hurt from standing in line, but we started to bond over the annoyances.
7:30-1pm this was how long it took for me to go from checking in with medical to checking out.
This included: visual tests, audio tests (make sure to control your breathing and not moving so you can hear the tones without interference, you have to be extremely focused to get a 100%, 0’s and 05’s are excellent scores), they take your blood to check for HIV, piss test, breathalyzer test (don’t be drunk?), and a questionnaire similar to the 75 question pre-MEPS form you fill out.
You also have to do a full body physical in a room with a doctor. My doc was this really nice elderly doc and he basically just looked me over once, checked my ears
Make sure to use over-the-counter ear cleaner before you go or your ears won’t be clean enough!
Some people were back for their second time because their ears were too dirty. You also have to take off all of your clothes so he can check for hernias, it’s really quick though and wasn’t a big deal. Then he asks some very vague questions about past medical history and he will write some things down etc.
****This is where you can mess up***
Disclose everything that you have told your OSO here and make sure the doc WRITES it down. If your medical disclosure/waivers and such in your OSO packet do not match your MEPS paperwork you will have to go back to audit the documents. Your career can start and end right here, don’t let the doc overlook something that you are getting a waiver for. Get it down in writing or else it can seem like you are lying.
The duck walk
The most extensive agility tests I have ever done. 15 guys go into a room and strip down to boxers/underwear. Then over the next hour we had to perform all of these extensive tests to test your balance and stuff. Nothing to worry about, everyone passed, some just struggled a bit and you did not want that doctor to have his eyes on you.
Once again, be the leader and set the example. We are potential officers with potential enlisted men/women, it starts here.
Have fun! There were several moments that were absolutely hilarious (like when one of the guys started to hum the Donkey Kong theme song “DK, donkey kong..” when the most evilest of nurses would walk by)
Don’t sweat it and realize that you are going through something that the majority of the population will never go through, which was pretty cool and good enough for me.