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MEPS at a Glance

An Overview of the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS)


U.S. Military Entrance Processing Station at Danny Thomas Boulevard and Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.
Thomas R Machnitzki/Wikimedia Commons
Joining the Military Requires two (or more) trips to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). At a very minimum, you make a trip to MEPS for initial processing, then a second trip to MEPS for final processing on the day you ship out to basic training. This article will focus on the average "first trip" to MEPS.

MEPS is a Department of Defense joint-service organization staffed with military and civilians. Their job is to determine an applicant's physical qualifications, aptitude and moral standards as set by each branch of military service, the Department of Defense, and federal law. There are 65 MEPS facilities located throughout the United States.


Your trip to MEPS begins before you actually leave, with a medical "prescreening" performed by your recruiter. In performing this medical prescreening, your recruiter will help you complete DD (Department of Defense) Form 2807-2, Medical Prescreen of Medical History Report.

The recruiter sends the results of this screening to MEPS, in advance, to be reviewed by MEPS medical personnel. If the prescreening shows a medical condition which is obviously disqualifying, with no chance of a waiver (example, you are blind, or missing a limb), then your processing stops at that point. Some medical conditions require additional medical records. The prescreening is designed to identify those conditions so that your recruiter can help you obtain required medical records BEFORE your trip to MEPS. This saves you from being "temporarily disqualified," requiring that you return later with the necessary records for full qualification.

While not all-inclusive, medical conditions which usually require medical reports (documentation from the physician, hospital, etc.) are:

  • Almost any surgery other than an uncomplicated appendectomy or hernia repair, or ligation of tubes, male or female. Absolutely any surgery of the brain, back, spinal cord, chest, upper abdomen, pelvis, and joints. A tissue report is required in the case of most biopsies (skin, breast, etc.) of tumors and lumps.

  • Any history of hospitalization other than the exceptions listed directly above, even if it was only 1 or 2 days for tests.

  • Any History of Asthma after 13th birthday.

  • History of counseling (family, marriage, etc.).

  • Skin diseases other than mild acne and athletes foot.

  • Allergies if more than mild.

  • Back sprains.


  • Severe joint sprains.

  • Heart conditions.

  • Hepatitis, mononucleosis.
The most useful medical records are the hospital records. Generally, they are the most easily obtained, of better quality, and are kept available for a longer time. Generally, the information needed is:
  • Discharge summary
  • Surgeon's report
  • Pathologist's report
  • History and physical
  • X-ray and laboratory reports
Most doctors' letters are inadequate. Recruiters have been instructed to use the standard MEPS request form, as it lists the required information. All too many civilian doctors are unaware of current directives, have no concept of what military training and duty is like, and will be strongly biased in favor of the applicant. MEPS is aware of this, and may require that a consult be performed with one of their own specialists (military or contract).

Getting Ready for the Trip

Once MEPS has given the recruiter the "okay" on the prescreening, the recruiter will schedule your visit to MEPS. Here are some general rules to remember that apply to your visit:
  1. Discuss any childhood medical problems with your parents and bring documentation with you.
  2. Bring your Social Security card, birth certificate and driver's license.
  3. Remove earrings (they obstruct the headset used for the hearing test).
  4. Profanity and offensive wording or pictures on clothing is not tolerated.
  5. Hats are not permitted inside the MEPS.
  6. If you wear either eyeglasses or contacts, bring them along with your prescription and lens case.
  7. Bathe or shower the night before your examination.
  8. Wear underclothes.
  9. Get a good night's sleep before taking the CAT-ASVAB.
  10. Wear neat, moderate, comfortable clothing.
  11. Don't bring stereo headphones, watches, jewelry, excessive cash or any other valuables.
  12. Processing starts early at the MEPS - You must report on time

Arrival at MEPS

For most applicants, the initial trip to MEPS is a two-day process. On the afternoon of arrival, the applicant takes the Computerized ASVAB Test. If you've already taken the ASVAB before your MEPS trip, and received qualifying scores, and the ASVAB test is less than 24 months old, you won't be required to retest.

If you do test at MEPS, exactly when you'll see your ASVAB scores is dependent upon the MEPS. When my daughters processed at the Omaha MEPS, they received their scores immediately after the test. I've been told that other MEPS don't give access to the scores until the next day, after medical processing.

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