Most people who enlist on active duty make two trips to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). The first trip (described in our articles, MEPS at a Glance, and The MEPS Experience), is for initial qualification determination, and enlisting in the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP).
The second trip is for actually enlisting on active duty, and shipping off to basic training.
MEPS Contract Hotel
Like the first trip, depending on how far away you live from your local MEPS, you may be required to report to a specified contract hotel on the afternoon/evening before. Meals and/or overnight lodging accommodations, if needed, will be arranged for you. Most applicants will share a room with another applicant and are expected to be considerate of other guests and hotel property. At some MEPS contract-hotels, you may be required to sign receipt of specific rules-of-conduct. If you're caught violating any of the rules, you may be returned home, without further enlistment processing. At the hotel, you are only required to pay for extras, such as telephone calls, and pay-per-view movies.
Just like the first day, the 2nd MEPS trip day begins early (around 6:00 AM). Like the first trip, there will be a lot of "hurry up and wait." The actual sequence of events may differ slightly from one MEPS to another.
Usually, the first thing that occurs is a height/weight check. Each of the military services have their own weight standards. If you exceed the weight standards, you'll undergo a body-fat-measurement. If you exceed the body-fat requirements of the specific serving that you're joining, your processing stops, and you'll be returned home. Whether or not you are extended in the DEP, to ship at a later date (after you lose the weight) is up to the service you are trying to join. At times, you may be given the opportunity to extend in the DEP and ship at a later time, other recruiting commanders may simply discharge you from the DEP. In any event, if you are over the body-fat standards when you report to MEPS, you're not shipping out to basic training.
Females will have to provide a urine sample to check for pregnancy. MEPS used to conduct a urinalysis drug test, but this is now accomplished by the individual services during the first or second day of basic training. Everyone will undergo a blood-alcohol test, however, to ensure that they are not intoxicated.
After the weight check, you will generally complete a form which will ask if there have been any changes in your medical condition since your first trip to MEPS. Depending on your answers, you may or may not actually meet with a MEPS doctor. If you have a new medical condition which is disqualifying, you may be sent home. Therefore, it's important that you let your recruiter know about any changes in your medical condition as soon as possible, so that he/she has time to process a medical waiver BEFORE you make the second trip to MEPS. Medical waivers take time to process, and it is unlikely that one will be approved if you disclose it on that final day.
Initial Strength Test (Marine Corps Only)
If you're joining the Marine Corps, you'll have to pass the Initial Strength Test before you can ship out to boot camp. (Note: At some locations, the IST may be given before your trip to MEPS).