Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MEPS: 2.1

I was only at MEPS for 1 day this time. :)

Since it was just me this time, my recruiter drove me the couple of hours down to MEPS. The first thing I did was take the NAPT, because I needed a 252 line score to make nuke and I only made a 248. I went there thinking the minimum score was 50, but also knowing that it could change any day. There wasn't nearly as much waiting this time. I think it was because it was just me and I wasn't doing anything medical. My recruiter and I went straight to the Navy office, where I met one of the Nuke Recruiters. (There are 2.) He seemed really nice, but since I had already done tons of research, I already knew most of what he was telling me. :P

What I did find out is that the previous week, they changed the minimum NAPT score from 50 to 55. One of the Nuke Recruiters lead me to a very small room - more of a closet, really - that contained a cubicle with a computer. I don't know what the computer was for, but I didn't need/get to use it for the test. They provided me with: the test booklet, the answer sheet, 2 pieces of scratch paper, 2 pencils, and a calculator. An interesting tidbit: You can't use your own calculator; you have to use one they provide to you for the test. I guess they don't want to bother inspecting calculators. The test was really difficult, the most difficult test I have ever taken. When the same Nuke Recruiter came to get me, he said "How did it go?" I said, "Awful." Then he said, "How do you think you did?" Again, I said, "Awful." (Please don't tell me that my quotes and/or commas are in the wrong places. I don't claim to be good at placing quotes or commas near quotes. It's one of my grammatical weaknesses.)

Anyway, per instructions, I went to the main waiting area, the same one I had been in a couple of weeks earlier, to wait for them to grade the test and call me back down to the Navy office. I don't remember if he gave me an estimate of how long it might take, but somehow I got 15 minutes in my head. I was so antsy, I kept opening my phone every couple of minutes to check the time. I ended up waiting about 1 hour and 20 minutes like that. I was about to jump out of my seat the whole time. The test had gone badly from my perspective and I spent that time convincing myself that I had failed the test and AECF would be fine. Finally, they called my name.

I went down to the Navy office and inspected everyone's face for any indication of how well I did on the test. I saw a guy who turned out to be the classifier (the guy who gives you a job) and he was smiling when he saw me, but, per my philosophy, I didn't want to get excited. I followed him to his cubicle, where he told me I had passed (ZOMG!) and I had made a 57. (I needed a 55.)

However, (I already knew this) I needed a waiver for my age, since I would be 25 and 4 months in October, which was the earliest nuke job they had, and the limit was 25. (Still is.) So I signed a contract for AECF in case I didn't get approved for nuke. I know everybody says don't sign a contract unless it has exactly what you want on it. However, I figure the Navy would prefer I be a nuke over an AECF, since nukes are harder to find. Also, if I don't get qualified for nuke, then I won't have to take a later ship date. I know it sounds like I screwed myself. I'm aware of that. Technically, I have left myself open to not getting the job I really want, but I've weighed the risks and benefits, and I think it's worth it. Of course, I'll keep you up to date on developments. :)

Anyway, I signed the contract, which is really just a few suspiciously short pages, then I had to go upstairs and wait to take the oath with a few other future recruits. I say oath, but it's really just for pomp (and probably to scare you a little). The oath that matters is the one you do just before leaving for boot camp, but few people do enough research to know that.

After that, I met my recruiter again and we headed home. She told me they have something they have do do within 72 hours of me signing a contract, but I don't remember what it's called. Since it was late when we got back to town, I went in the next day to do that.

It turns out is was just where she told me about what I have to do while in DEP(Delayed Entry Program). There is a meeting the first Wednesday of every month, I have to see her at least twice every month (the meeting is included), and I have to contact her (by phone, text, or facebook, for example,) every Monday.

That day I had her call the Nuke recruiters to ask them about a waiver I might need for grades I made in high school. Turns out we were supposed to fill out some information while we were there the day before so they could submit the waivers, but somebody forgot to tell somebody else. It's not a big deal though. My recruiter printed out the forms I need and I'll fill them out at home, where I have time to figure out what I want to say.

MEPS: 1.3

Day three of MEPS started out much like the first day, except I had some bacon with my eggs and I was feeling like a veteran, since I had been there the day before. (Yeah, been there, done that.) It happened exactly like it did the previous day. Breakfast was the same, the conversations were basically the same, and the MEPS staff made verbatim, the same speeches. I was flabbergasted when some guy turned over a knife when the guy outside of MEPS said no weapons. Was he asleep the first 30 times other people said that?

Anyway, it only got different (except for breakfast) after we got in the building. Per instructions, I went along with the people who needed consults, so I didn't have to wait in the really long line to check in at the medical desk like the people who were there for a full physical.

There were a few of us who needed consults and we headed back outside to a waiting van. My stop was the first. We stopped at a troop clinic on base and a couple of the guys got out with me. We went in together and followed instructions to the optometrists' offices. It looked like any normal clinic, except everybody was wearing the same thing. It was kind of funny. They were all in their BDUs. That's the outfit that's all camo with the big boots. We checked in with the receptionist in the optometrists office and had a seat in the waiting room.

My name was called, I had my eye exam, and the doctor verified the prescription I got at MEPS was correct. When all of us were done, we let the receptionist know so she could call the van back to come pick us up. We went up to the main waiting area like she told us and we waited about an hour before the van showed up. It turned out that she forgot to call them. :P

After getting back to MEPS, we went to the main waiting area and waited for our respective branches to call our names. I waited for that about 3 hours. I saw so much House of Payne and Everybody Loves Raymond during that trip... I can't even think of an analogy. Just know it was a lot.

Let's see... The Navy called my name and I went down to their office and a lady lead me to a room with a couch, a couple of chairs, and a coffee table. That's where I was able to write a statement describing myself and why I thought they should make an exception for me. My strong glasses prescription has no affect on my daily life, blah, blah, blah. The waiver lady was really nice. She told me what sort of things they were looking for and she let me rewrite my statement. They were looking for specifics: how long I have been wearing glasses, what I do at work, that I can drive at night.

After that, there was nothing left to do until the waiver came back, so it was time to wait for a shuttle for a few hours again, this time, to take me home.

Next Time: MEPS: Part Two

Monday, January 24, 2011

MEPS: 1.2

So somebody kept "encouraging" me to write another post, so here it is. :P

We had to get up really early the second day. They give you all of the specifics when you get down there. I went down to the restaurant and had breakfast. It was a light breakfast, though, since I was supposed to weigh that day. They had eggs, french toast, bacon, and sausage, with syrup and hot sauce in pitchers on the side. I had some eggs with hot sauce and it was pretty good. After breakfast, the bus came by the hotel and we filed on it and headed for MEPS.

After we got off of the bus at MEPS, a guy gave us a speech outside about not bringing any weapons or drugs into the building. It was mostly common sense stuff, but some of it was really important, so if you go down there pay attention. We went to the medical floor and waited in a really long line to check in at the desk. I got to skip most of it though, because I'm female. I imagine the process is much better for females since we are separated from the guys and our group is smaller as a result. They have it very organized over there and they'll tell you exactly where to go and what to do. All you have to do is pay attention. They have stations numbered 1-8. When we got up to the front of the line and checked in, the lady told us to go to station number 3. The catch was, station 3 was already backed up, so instead of going to station 3, I waited in a chair next to somebody else who was waiting for station 3. When the person in the chair closest to the door got to go in, we all got up and moved one chair closer. It was pretty funny, like Musical Chairs: Medical Edition.

Anyway, I'll be really vague about how they did the medical evaluations and tests on purpose, so I don't inadvertently give someone info so they can cheat the system. Just know if you don't have anything majorly wrong with you, it'll be fine. Also, if it's that important, you can look up the medical requirements and disqualifications on the internet. I had "Asthma symptoms" and ADHD when I was younger (less than 13), so during the interview the doctor asked me about that.

They have an obstetrician (women's doctor) on staff and he was the one to do our physical and medical interview. I had never been to an obstetrician before, but it was about as relaxed as it could've been I suppose. He was kind of chatty, which helped. Anyway, we had to strip to our underwear, but it wasn't really awkward because there were only 3 of us and we had been chatting the last few hours while we were in line. We weighed, then peed in a cup for the drug test, then did some stretches. It sucked that I had to weigh before getting to pee, because I was so close to the weight limit and I had had to drink some water for the drug test. I got so lucky. It turned out I was an inch taller than I thought I was, so the weight limit was 4 lbs more than I thought it was. I ended up being 1 lb under the limit! Whew! The drug test has a bad rap. People talk about it like there's someone looking right at you while you're doing your business. It wasn't like that at all. I was in the stall (that had no door) and the female nurse, who was our escort, was around the corner.

After all of the tests, I headed to station 8, where a guy looked over my paperwork and told me I needed to get a consult from an optometrist (eye doctor). Apparently, my prescription was just over the limit and they wanted an eye doctor to verify that before the Navy would start on the paperwork for a waiver. They scheduled my consult for the next morning and like that, I was done for the day. I had to wait for the shuttle to come get me and take me back to the hotel. I had to wait there watching bad daytime tv for 5 hours.

Anyway, I waited, rode the shuttle back to the hotel, and had a pretty relaxing evening hanging out at the hotel. Since I had already weighed, I treated myself to chicken fried steak (free) at the hotel's restaurant. It was so delicious. That night, however, I had a roommate in the room when I got back. That's ok, just a little weird. I guess she was in the new group that had gotten there that evening, just a day behind me.

Stay tuned! Day three will be here before you know it! :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

MEPS: 1.1

Since I'll visit MEPS multiple times for a varying number of days each time, I'll use a format like this: Visit#.Day#. This is from a female's point of view at the San Antonio, TX MEPS. For security purposes, I'm going to be intentionally vague. All meals at MEPS are provided or paid for, so don't worry about that. ;)

I went to my recruiter's office, where I filled out some more paperwork. The shuttle picked us up and we headed down to San Antonio, picking up more future recruits from other recruiting offices along the way. When we got there, we went straight to the MEPS where we took the ASVAB. We were tired and hungry and we had to take it!

One thing they say is "Hurry up and wait." That's so true. I probably waited more hours than I spent getting stuff done the whole time I was there. Anyway, after we finished the ASVAB, the guy behind the desk gave us a print out of our scores and told us we could open it when we were on the bus. I got a 94, which qualifies me for nuke. YAY! Next we rode a different shuttle to the hotel. We checked in, ate dinner, and went to sleep.

The MEPS people at the hotel were gruff, but not actually rude. Just don't expect any smiles. :)