Preparing for BCT

Sorry to go AWOL for a while. The past few weeks have been busy, finishing the online future soldier training, making sure I have everything for Basic, trying to secure everything for school when I get back (a week into the semester), keeping up on my running, and travelling the state to drop off my baby (a very handsome bearded dragon lizard) with his auntie and getting him settled into a new home. Finally I feel like everything is in order, just in time for me to leave to Basic Training tomorrow morning.
The packing list for BCT is pretty short, so it was the least of my problems. I’ll attach a copy of the packing list I got, even though I found out a couple days ago that it’s outdated and not entirely accurate.

(Sorry for the wrinkles. This guy has been through a lot with me.)
The things (I know of) that are missing on this list are: a week’s worth of socks/underwear (glad I called my recruiters about this one), a digital watch (my recruiter recommended a $20 one from Wal-Mart that ha…

OPAT -- Occupational Physical Assessment Test

My recruiters told me to come into the office on Friday in comfortable clothes because we would be “doing some exercises.” Did they think I normally dress up for them? I wondered, as I put on my normal comfy clothes and prepared myself for some more duck walks and bending to touch my toes, etc. All those great MEPS exercises.
I knew little about my recruiters’ plans to try to KILL ME that day. These were no routine MEPS exercises we were talking about! It was an official physical test I had to sign papers to allow them to do, probably in case I died in the process (a distinct possibility). Apparently there are certain physical standards you must meet for your individual MOS. My MOS requires me to be somewhere in what they called the “middle bracket”.
First, they had me do a long jump. So basically, they rolled out a long tape measurer and asked me to jump as far as I could. They let me try three times to get the farthest I could. For all of these exercises I will describe, I was allowe…

MEPS (Day 3: Swearing in)

After compiling a list of my foreign contacts, I went into my recruiter’s office to have him put them into the system. (Only they have access to edit my file.) I also had some questions about going back to MEPS in a few days to be sworn in.
Questions like: Why??? And, do I have to??
Have you ever wondered what Hell is like? I think maybe it’s different for everyone. I’m here to tell you that for me, it is exactly like the MEPS waiting room. No phones, no books, just an empty room with chairs and hours of waiting for no reason. People told me I would have to be tough to join the Army, but I was picturing being yelled at to do pushups constantly and camping in adverse weather conditions. Nobody prepared me for the torture of a MEPS waiting room. Things like that can break you.
So, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to spending a couple more days at MEPS, even though it’s basically the most important event of my life up to this point. While I was in the recruiter’s office whining about it, s…

MEPS (Day 2: Physical)

Before I left for MEPS, my recruiter told me to make sure to dress professionally, “like you would for a job interview" on the day they interview me. "Like you are now,” he added. I looked down at my jeans and oversized sweatshirt, and wondered what sort of job interviews he had been to.
So, unsure if I should wear dress pants and a blouse, or just nice jeans and a polo shirt, I took a risk on the comfortable side that morning at MEPS. Luckily, everyone else was dressed casually too. There were only a couple people who looked like they were actually ready for a job interview. I think by the end of the afternoon, they were ready to stab somebody with their heels, though. Lesson learned: “Professional” in the MEPS world = pants without rips + shirts without drug references or cuss words.
The first thing we did our second day at MEPS, after we went through security and checked in, was get name tags and head over to the medical side of MEPS. We checked into the desk there and line…

MEPS (Day 1: Testing)

The Day of Reckoning. When all your dreams either come true or are crushed forever. Or in my case, postponed until further notice.
MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station. It is where you go to do testing, get your physical done, and be sworn into the military. It’s what all the paperwork and interviewing is leading up to. For people in the Reserve like myself, once you are sworn into the military, you are already a soldier from that moment on.
Wednesday morning, I arrived bright and early at my recruiter’s office to take a shuttle to my nearest MEPS. Two hours later… the shuttle showed up. There were three other people in there who were riding up with me. All of them were joining the Air Force. We chatted and got to know each other on the long drive to MEPS.
That evening when we arrived, we went straight into MEPS. To get in, you have to go through security like at an airport. If you have anything sharp like nail files or nail clippers in your bag, make sure to tell it a he…

Choosing an MOS - Part 2

A couple weeks and lots of paperwork resubmittals later (it’s always something), I finally got the call today to come in and finish choosing my MOS. My recruiters had made some calls to a couple Reserve units and gotten the full list of available MOS’s there.
Each of the two Reserves had about 20 MOS’s for me to choose from. (This of course will depend on your ASVAB score and the availability of jobs in your area at any given time.) The first Reserve unit we looked at was about an hour from where I live. It would be the ideal place to get a job.
Lots of the MOS’s there were mechanic jobs. A few were logistics. A couple IT jobs. A cleaning job (which is one of the jobs called a “kicker” job, which means it comes with an increased monetary incentive, since it’s not exactly sought after). A medical receptionist. A weapon technician. And the one I was interested in—an HR job.
In general, I do not get excited about desk jobs. But HR is one I could see myself doing for some reason. Bonus: It i…

Learning the Lingo

Is it just me, or do you need a glossary every time you hear someone talking about the military? I wish people spoke in parentheses about the DoD (Department of Defense) the way they write. Or that tiny floating asterisks would come out of their mouth with every acronym, that correlated with an asterisk on the floor, where a definition was written.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Maybe that’s one reason why the Army didn’t meet its recruitment goal for the first time in 13 years, this past year. So many people don’t understand the Army. They don’t have any friends, family, or mentors in the Army, so this strange military world seems intimidating and scary to them. (See this news article:
Nobody likes feeling like they don’t know anything, and there’s no faster way to make someone feel that way than throwing a bunch of acronyms at them. As a result, many people try to avoid military …