Here’s how to help them navigate the process
By Marguerite Cleveland
My eldest son has decided he wants to join the Army. We are currently in the process of helping him navigate through the recruiting process and here are a few things we’ve learned.
For high school students you must have completed your junior year and be 17 years of age to enter into what is called the Delayed Entry Program and you can only be in it for 365 days. This gives your child the best opportunity to enter the field that he wants. Parents will be actively involved in the process and required to sign paperwork if your child is 17. Once they turn 18, they can sign and navigate the process on their own.
The optimal time to begin is the summer between the Junior and Senior Year. We waited until my son’s senior year had started and he ended up missing a few days of school. Have your child go to the website for the service he wishes to join and review what jobs he may be interested in and what the qualifications are. Have them think about things in their life that maybe a factor. For example someone that gets carsick might not be a good fit for the Navy. What are their interests? A more academically inclined student would do well at the Defense Language Institute learning a foreign language while a sports enthusiast might thrive with the physical challenges of an Army Ranger. Are they planning to make the military a career or serve and then go to college? Some military job training offers classes that many colleges will count as transfer credits.
The first thing to do is take the ASVAB test which is good for all branches of the service. Many high schools offer the test. This test determines if you are eligible for the military and what jobs you are qualified for academically. Once they have test scores in hand they can look to see if they are qualified for the jobs they want.
Find A Recruiter. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Visit the branches of all services and know that you can look at more than one at a time. Each service has different bonuses and jobs available at any one time. Keep your options open and look at everything.
Get your paperwork in order. Promptly fill out and complete any forms your recruiter asks you to. Be honest with all your answers. Your recruiter can help if you don’t understand a question. If your child ever had a broken bone or illness make sure you have copies of their medical records. If you aren’t fit start working on achieving your fitness goals and know that there are screening weights you must meet to join the military. If your child is not a runner, they need to start. Programs like Couch Potato to 5K found online can help. Basic Training is much less stressful is you are physically fit.
No matter which branch you choose, you will go to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to complete the enlistment process. There you will undergo a physical and other screening and this is what ultimately determines whether or not you can join. There are 65 MEPS in the U.S and Puerto Rico and one may not be close to you. Your recruiting station will provide transportation, meals and lodging while you go through the process.
Once you complete the process at MEPS if the job is available you want, you can take your Oath of Office. At this point you will ship off to basic training or enter into the Delayed Entry Program with your training starting at a later date. For high school seniors this is two weeks after your high school graduation.
Once your child completes the process and enters into the Delayed Entry Program, they need to stay on track to graduate from High School, stay morally straight, don’t get any tattoos that violate policy and stay fit. Soon they will be on their way to a bright future.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com