Navimie of The Daily Frostwolf – Druid Edition poked me yesterday, reminding me that it had been 3 weeks since my last update!
While I do write for you, I also write for myself. I have a great personal perceived need to put this on (digital) paper.
Fair Warning – This post exceeds 1200 words.
A few people know what position I’m going for in the USAF. Most don’t, however. There is a reason for that. I’ve stayed relatively anonymous on my blog since it’s inception. I especially don’t go into my RL job very often.
As far as I can remember, I’ve never actually mentioned what I do.
Again, there is a reason.
You see, I’ve worked in the area of Religion/Church for around 15 years.
That should be enough to scare most people away.
As you can imagine, I’m trying to enter the USAF as a Chaplain.
If everything goes as planned, I will start out as a (most likely) a Captain (O3). I’ve got great military references on my application, great work experience, and a great education. Thus far, I’ve excelled in everything they’ve asked of me.
At least, until I got to MEPS.
TLD;R – Z needs a Dental Waiver. MEPS was quite an experience!
The Chief Medical Officer seemed pretty positive that I would get one; but that still makes me currently “unfit for service.” It will be 3-4 weeks before I find out whether or not I get one.
If I don’t get one, then I believe I will still be given the opportunity to get things fixed on my own. That means we’ll be spending a healthy amount of $$$ to get everything fixed.
I’m extremely embarrassed about the whole thing.
That being said, the process was quite an experience!
It wasn’t fun. It was high stress. Not every MEPS employee was the perfect example of professional courtesy. But, I’m not going to belabor that point.
Instead, I just want to give a description of what I went through (with a slightly positive bent).
First, not everything was in working order. You see, I was my Officer Ascensions recruiter’s first Officer to ever put through. He basically told me to do everything he tells the enlisted folks to do. The problem is that Officers are (usually) different. I was told that I would only need my ID and SS card. However, I knew that I would also need my eyeglasses prescription as well.
Note – if you wear glasses/contacts, not only do you need your prescription (a complete,detailed account of your examination) from your doctor; BUT there is a special form for it to be written on. I had never heard of this form until I got to MEPS! At the same time, they never actually showed me the form. In the end, the Chief Medical Officer accepted the prescription.
I was told to show up to the hotel the night before check-in at 7:00pm. Then I would need to be sure to show up at MEPS by 5:00am the next morning.
I got to the hotel and I was the only Officer candidate there. The liaison saw me, and asked me to remind my OA recruiter to remember to list me as an Officer candidate. Yeah, I wasn’t expected.
Hey, at least I got my own room!
Went and had dinner with the other (enlisted) recruits, did a cardio work out in the hotel gym, then went to the 8:30pm briefing.
Basically, the briefing was an overview on how they expected everyone to act while at the hotel.
There were about 30-50 of us there. I could count on one hand the number of people over the age of 20 (I’m 39).
Got up around 3:00am. Had breakfast at 4:00am. Got to MEPS (via my own car) at 5:00am.
The Army Major that met us was pleasant enough. He wasn’t rude. He did use a loud voice, but I wouldn’t say that he “yelled” at us. He did speak rather quickly, while reminding us repeatedly to not waste his time.
We lined up, went through security to get in, and made our way to our Service Liaison office.
Where, you stand in line again. This was often repeated through out the day. You learn new meaning to the phrase, “Hurry up and wait!”
When I finally got to the desk, the USAF personnel, saw my name-tag; and promptly asked, “Why are you hear so early!?”
That’s right. It turns out they prefer Officer types to show up around 9-10am. I knew this was going to be the start of an interesting day.
I signed in, went and put my stuff in a locker (you did bring .25 cents, right?!), and then went to wait in a cafeteria where they gave us our paperwork/file.
From there, we went to the Control Desk to sign in officially with MEPS. There was a little problem with my finger prints. For some reason my thumb wouldn’t take. But, they fixed that later.
Ok, I’m going to shorten this a little bit. There were a couple of problems early on. First, the finger print not taking. There were also a couple of digits mixed up in my Social Security #.
Once that was squared away, I could get on with it.
There was another briefing, where they got us to fill out paper work…again.
Near the end of the briefing, we were individually asked what branch we were going into, and which position we were trying out for.
Yes, MEPS is basically a job interview. We were reminded of this multiple times.
This is where everyone there learned that I was going for the Chaplaincy. I assumed that everyone from there on out would avoid me like the plague.
Guess what…I was wrong.
This was the interesting thing which my mind keeps coming back to. Even in the midst of this high stress situation. In this experience where everything changed every 5 minutes. In this experience where there was always someone telling you want to do in a rapid fire fashion; I was still sought out.
The average age of the recruits was 18. I saw a large number of 17, 18 and 19 year olds.
It was hard to believe how the young men and women (17-18yr olds) actually sought me out and opened up to me. It always started the same way:
Enlisted Recruit, “You wanna be a Chaplain?”
Me, “Yes. I’m really hoping for it.”
Recruit, “What does a Chaplain do?”
Me, “Well, I would basically act like a Pastor or Priest in the military. I would be able to do services, but I would also do quite a bit of counseling.”
Recruit…following a brief pause…, “I’m going through X. What do you think about X?”
It ran the gambit from Vocational Counseling, Parental Counseling, Marital Counseling, and etc.
While I found quite a bit that was frustrating concerning the overall MEPS experience; I was utterly humbled to be of service to the young men and women there.
So, on the negative: When it came to MEPS, the “right hand didn’t know what the left had was doing.” I failed the dental exam, and will need a Dental Waiver to join the USAF.
However, on the plus side: I made my weight, aced almost everything. I also had an opportunity to minister (which totally surprised me). One friend even pointed out how this could be interpreted as a verification of my call to go into the USAF as a Chaplain. He noted, “You’re not even in, and you’re already acting like one!”