Boot Camp Diaries VI: In Processing

The first few days, up to a week for some people, are spent in-processing. Essentially, they’re gonna sort you into your houses. This can be totally arbitrary and you won’t have any real control over where you’re going aside from a 900 unit as per my last post. In-processing is also where you get your medical clearance and are stamped fit for duty.

Because you have yet to be “cleared” you can’t be dropped or exercised during this time period, but don’t be the kid that acts out knowing they can’t be touched because there is a big YET looming at the end of that.

It was during this time period, in the first 24 hours actually that I came to the conclusion that the military just wasn’t for me. I had known that they would yell at me, and that they were paid to be well, militant, but as one of my superiors drew a big nine on my arm in sharpie and said, “move over there female,” I felt a good portion of my self-worth and humanity being stripped away in chunks and it felt truly terrible. I felt as if I didn’t matter, I was actually just a number for the first time in my life and I have never felt more lonely.

I began to think about the best way to make my way out of the military and settled on the moment of truth. I had been told time and time again by one recruiter after another and by all of my prior service friends that you’re not supposed to reveal anything at moment of truth and it’s just a trick to weed out people who lied before they got in. I figured maybe I would just make something up and they would send me home and not want me anymore. Then I found out…..

If you want OUT of bootcamp, graduate.

To graduate takes 2 months. To be separated, you are contractually bound to that horrible place for seven months to a year. You hang out in a separation unit all day every day doing nothing, being treated like crap still and being extra looked down upon as a failure. I am certain this is a big reason why many people make it through boot camp because nobody in their right mind WANTS to be there.

Let’s pop back to that moment of truth again real quick. So within your first 48 you’re going to attend an event called the moment of truth. For me it was rather freaky. I hadn’t lied or anything, but you have to understand when you’re in this unfamiliar place full of people who treat you like a weed going on 36 hours without sleep and they’re giving you this speech about how if there is any little thing at all that you even forgot about by accident and you don’t come forward now you’ll be jailed for two years and fined up to 30k, you really start to squirm. My best friend stood up and walked to the front and I was convinced I wouldn’t see her again. (turns out it was like, she thought there was a chance she had not paid a parking ticket so thanks for the unnecessary stroke). She came back in and sat down but pretty much everyone else who went out into the hallway didn’t come back.

Side note: Just don’t lie at MEPS. If you’ve smoked weed before or you’ve drank or you have a speeding ticket just say that from the start. I promise I know people in the military now who came forward early and got waivers for having smoked in the past. Don’t be scared just be honest from square one.

You’ll be housed temporarily in your units but you won’t meet your RDC’s who will take charge of your training for the majority of your experience until after the first week. You’re sort of just volleyed between petty officers with free-time.

You’re also issued your basic uniforms, shampoo and basic necessities to last you until your first trip to the NEX and given a final physical, dental exam and rounds of shots. If you have your wisdom teeth bid them adieu, they’ll be pulling those at a later date. Ladies will get a pelvic exam. An in depth one, not just the cursory glance at MEPS but like, prepare for a speculum. It is really not a big deal, you will be fine, the medical staff will be so nice to you. Ours let us listen to music.

There is one thing, medically, you will not like. You might pass out it hurts. The peanut butter shot. The needle is huge, it goes in your bum, not IN your bum but like your hip, and it hurts like a butt-cheek on a stick. It just does, you can’t prepare for it you can only accept it. If you faint it’s ok, try to sit down after if you feel like you might, you don’t want a concussion on top of everything.

Sidenote: They call the ambulance the recruit taxi and I kind of thought it was a joke at first but they come every day. Every day someone goes away in the ambulance. Maybe not from your unit, but like, it’s a bit ridiculous. I digress… Once you’re medically cleared and geared up you make the long, arduous trek carrying everything you have acquired, over to the ship that will become your home.


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