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The Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP)

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Recruiter Ethics

So, what should you do if a recruiter (or even a recruiting commander) uses unethical tactics to try and intimidate you, or to delay your DEP discharge request? First and foremost, you should use the "chain of command." If it's the recruiter who is trying to intimidate you or unreasonably delaying the process, request the name and phone number of his/her supervisor. Keep doing that (up the "chain") until you get a satisfactory response.

It may help to let them know that you are perfectly willing to make an official written complaint to the appropriate "Inspector Generals" (IG).

The Recruiting "IG" officials are responsible for investigating allegations of recruiter misconduct, or violations of recruiting regulations and policies. The Recruiting IG addresses are:

Reporting Unethical Behavior

  • Air Force. Inspector General, Air Force Recruiting Service, HQ AFRS/CVI, Randolph AFB, TX 78150
  • Army. Inspector General, U.S. Army Recruiting, USAREC, Fort Knox, KY 40121
  • Navy. Inspector General, COMNAVCRUITCOM Code 001, 5722 Integrity Dr, Bldg 768, Millington, TN 38054
  • Marine Corps (East Coast). Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), Parris Island, SC 29905
  • Marine Corps (West Coast). Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), San Diego, CA 92140

Contacting Your Congressperson. In most cases concerning the military enlistment process, I've found contacting your Congressperson is usually a waste of time. Note that I say "usually." If the military denied you a waiver, and they correctly followed the law and their own regulations in doing so, all the congressional complaints in the world aren't going to change that. However, current policy requires recruiters and recruiting commands to process DEP discharge requests in an appropriate time-frame. If the recruiter, or recruiting commander uses unethical tactics, such as delaying the DEP discharge requestprocess, then congressional intervention can be very helpful, indeed.

Reserve and National Guard Enlistments

The Reserves and the National Guard do not have a Delayed Enlistment Program. The very second you take the oath, and sign the enlistment contract, you are in the Reserves (or Guard), you are assigned to a specific manpower slot in a specific unit, and you are entitled to receive pay for weekend drills (in the active duty DEP, there is no entitlement to pay), even if you have not been to basic training, and/or job-training school.

This means, if you change you mind, the discharge process is entirely out of the hands of the recruiting command, and lies in the hands of the commanding officer of the Reserve or National Guard unit you are assigned to. This makes the discharge process much more complicated. An active duty DEP-discharge is relatively simple, handled by the recruiting command, and requires little paperwork. A discharge from the Reserves or National Guard requires a full-blown discharge package initiated by the unit commander for the unit you're assigned to, even if you've not been to basic training, nor attended any paid drills.

Your first step should be to make a request for discharge, in writing, addressed to your commanding officer. Your letter should clearly state your reason(s) for discharge. If you don't know who your commanding officer is, your recruiter should be able to put you in touch with him/her, or provide a phone number or address.

Your commander will consider your request, and either approve it (by initiating discharge action), or disapprove it. Keep in mind that the commander does not have to approve your voluntary discharge request.

So, what happens if your commander disapproves your discharge request? You then have two options: (1) You can report to ship out to basic training on the date indicated on your enlistment contract, or orders, or (2) you can simply refuse to ship out to basic training.

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