CVN-71

Unacceptable Delays in Enlistment Processing

Hurry Up and Wait

Lately, well, actually, over the past few months, I have been getting a growing number of applicants, and even some recruiters, telling me via comments in the blog, social media, or via email that they are waiting on their local commands and MEPS to inform them to whether their police involvement and/or medical condition will allow them to move forward with their processing. This is actually a normal part of the processing.

The medical prescreening issue:

When an applicant has a “yes” answer on their medical prescreening form, DD Form 2807-2, Medical Prescreen of Medical History Report, the corresponding medical records must be submitted to the MEPS for review. MEPS personnel will respond with one of a few options, either, eligible to process, permanently disqualified, temporarily disqualified (usually a timeframe will be given as to how long the disqualification will be in place), or that more medical documentation is required.

What isn’t normal is having to wait for extended periods to get an answer. In a growing number of cases, applicants are waiting weeks, and even sometimes months, to get a response. That is unacceptable, and actually contrary to MEPCOM Regulation.

USMEPCOM Regulation 601-23, dated June 26, 2012, Chapter 2, Section 2 “Processing Schedule, Projections”, paragraph c.3 and c.4 states,

(3) Prescreens on applicants with medical history documentation, of 5 or less single-sided pages and with “yes” responses in any item numbers other than 12, 61, and 73 will be submitted NLT 1200 2 workdays in advance of the projected processing date. The Recruiting Service will be notified of the applicant’s status within 2 workdays of receipt of prescreen.
(4) Prescreens on applicants with medical history documentation of more than 5 single-sided pages and with “yes” responses in any item numbers other than 12, 61, and 73 will be reviewed and submitted NLT 1200 3 workdays in advance of the projected processing date. The Recruiting Service will be notified of the applicant’s status within 3 workdays of receipt of prescreen. The projection may be submitted together with the prescreen.

Item number 12 asks if contact lenses are worn, number 61 asks about braces (teeth), and 73 asks if you smoke (tobacco).

Yes, that’s right, the regulation states, “The Recruiting Service will be notified of the applicant’s status within 3 workdays of receipt of prescreen.” MAX.

The waiver prescreening issue:

It is prudent for a command to ensure recruiters are as efficient as possible. One way to do that is to ensure they are working with applicants that are otherwise best qualified. Some applicants, however, have blemishes on their record — many of those will require extra work. Sometimes those applicants get put on the backburner — that is okay, but when the time extends into weeks and months, this too becomes an unacceptable practice.

I am positive that many, perhaps even most, MEPS are following the regulation as it dictates, and that a majority of the NRDs are returning answers in a professional and timely manner, but having even one that may have excessive delays cannot be allowed, and for two very good reasons.

First and foremost, the applicant puts their life on hold while attempting to find out if they are eligible to move forward. It is easy to say, well, if they don’t like it, go do something else, but that is not the professionalism we should expect from those in uniform. We should know pretty quickly if the applicant will be able to process — either get them on deck, or tell them to move to plan “B”, but don’t just let them flounder.

Second, and the most disturbing, these excessive delays can lead to an increase in cases of fraud. One example is a comment that was posted just yesterday,

… The recruiter told them as long as she didn’t take any medicines for her conditions, she could enlist. As for the arthritis and kidney disease, he told her the military only had access to the records she gave them and they would never find out about those conditions unless she told them. So he advised her not to tell anyone and he would pretend he never heard it. He also told her that if she had problems after she enlisted, she should just pretend it was a surprise and a new and unexpected diagnosis. He also told her that the military would just say, “Oh, we’re so sorry about that diagnosis. We won’t make you repay the tuition you’ve used so far but you won’t be able to serve now. Have a good life.”

The Navy is trying to eliminate such incidents — one step was the implementation of the “Recruit with Integrity Card“, but many times, applicants are reporting that they never recieved it — they didn’t even know it existed. Maybe make it a check at MEPS? I don’t know, but we need to avoid putting good people into impossible circumstances — a majority will overcome it and live right, but regrettably, a few will try and take the “easy” way.

Working with MEPCOM should be easy — communicating with the local MEPS and attending the quarterly meetings to share concerns is a good way to move forward to reduce those times where they are a problem. I say easy because in the same cited regulation it states,

This chapter prescribes schedule policies for the operations of MEPS. The times associated within this regulation are the base from which MEPS will operate. MEPS are encouraged to expand the windows and times whenever possible in support of the recruiting mission. If a MEPS policy is more restrictive toward recruiting than what is in this regulation, then it does not meet the USMEPCOM Commander’s intent. MEPS will not establish any times or windows that are more restrictive than what is indicated in this regulation.

MEPCOM leadership is already on board.

For the NRDs, perhaps specifically reviewing procedures and how they may impact the customer’s time would be a great start. Not all would benefit because most are on top of it, but I am sure some will find efficiencies that could strengthen their organization.

Bottom line, would you want to be an applicant today?


Read Comments (19)

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19 Responses to “Hurry Up and Wait”


  1. Gale says:

    Having just gone through this process with my son I can say the big disconnect is between the recruiters and medical staff. My son took 18 months to wade through the maze. He had a heart ablation when he was 17 so his recruiter told us to get an “all clear” from his cardiologist. Which we did through an updated physical and a letter of recommendation from the cariologist. This was processed and DQ’d by medical. The recruiter then said he could get and “echo” cardiogram and process the results and hope for the best but there were no guarantees. However “navydoc” said the medical condition was waiveable and shouldn’t be a problem. We did this and he was successfully processed and is now in bootcamp. We should have been told about the “echo” at the beginning and saved a trip out of town to see the cardiologist.

    If it weren’t for “navydoc” assisting along the way, my son and I would have very little positive to say about the process. I do appreciate your blog and efforts to make sense of the process. Also “navydoc” was invaluable. Thx, Gale.

  2. RCBev says:

    Thanks for the post. The young man that I’ve been mentoring for over a YEAR to enlist has basically “given up” because of how long it has been taking for MEPS to respond and the CONFUSION with the paperwork they need for a wavier (he scored very high on the ASVAB and has great letters of recommendations). He have gone back and forth to the county courthouse too many times to count to gain copies of records. I am ex-Navy myself and it shouldn’t be this way. He is basically “dead in the water” because he cannot gain copies of “sealed” juvenille records without a lawyer and with a subpoena basically (at least that is what he was told) And obtaining a lawyer is not realistic to say the least. It is disappointing because this is his dream. :( Any suggestions on moving forward, no matter how slim, would be appreicated. Thank you..

  3. NCCM(Ret) says:

    RCBev,

    I am a little surprised that he is having a difficult time getting his “sealed” records. It has been my experience that when the actual person goes in person to the courthouse, they will provide those documents. I never ran into an issue driving the applicant to the courthouse and getting records that were juvenile and sealed when the applicant was there (now an adult) and gave permission for their release. As a matter of fact, I don’t know that it is lawful for them to keep his records from him (I am not a lawyer).

  4. NCCM(Ret) says:

    RCBev,

    And a follow-up question, what was the charge, and has the court produced a letter stating that they refuse to produce the documents? Sometimes, depending on the underlying charge, that letter may help move things along.

  5. RCBev says:

    Youthful offender; 3rd degree theft ($15 item) and drug para charge in 2012. We were able to obtain copies of the court “summary” of the case with the fine paid and time served. BUT MEPS wants a copy for the arresting officer’s arrest report (basically to verify potential recruit’s account/demeanor) and RAP sheet. We have to arresting officer name and attempted to request a statement from him. Didn’t have any luck with that avenue either. So, the recruiter has basically put his paperwork on moving forward for wavier on the back burner. :( The young man had a public defender, if the he and recruiter went down to their office, would it help? I was told by the county record’s clerk that it would not. How do we get this letter from the recruiter? Like I said, it’s been on the back burner. :(

  6. RCBev says:

    Oh and one more thing, we have a statement from one of the possible future recruit friend’s who was with him when he was arrested with his account of what happened also.

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:

    RCBev,

    The friend’s statement will be no help.

    Not a letter from the recruiter, but a letter from the court and the police officer that the information will not be released — it is not uncommon for legal to ask for arresting officers notes — especially in questionable drug related cases. Was the drug marijuana or some other drug? He had “time served”?

    If his charge(s) rose to that of a Major Misconduct Offense, a waiver at this time is highly unlikely no matter what documentation he gets.

  8. RCBev says:

    NCCM (Ret)

    Thanks for all your help!! So a letter from the court (have no idea where to even go/division inside municipal court to obtain that) AND police officer statement that information will not be release or just one or the other?

    Drug was marijuana (for drug para) and he has time served/completed in 2012.

    According to the recruiter, the wavier request will have to go up to NRC Commander in Millington because of the drug para charge.

    *Sigh* this has been difficult .. This young man has so much potential if just given the chance. He wants to go PACT.

  9. RCBev says:

    NCCM (Ret),

    What also been frustrating is that the recruiter says, “get this paperwork and within a couple of weeks you can go to MEPS” Potential recruit will get the paperwork requested but then doesn’t hear anything back in 6 weeks. He gets his hopes up and then nothing. If the wavier is NOT possible then just tell him — no more false hope. :(

  10. NCCM(Ret) says:

    RCBev,

    And that is part of the point of my post — I wish things could move along faster because people put their lives on hold. We can do better.

  11. RCBev says:

    NCCM (Ret),

    Yes, things can be better. It is not fair to this young man! I can really tell that this process has really been frustrating for him thus the “giving up” attitude.

  12. RCBev says:

    NCCM (Ret)

    Of another note on above. The charges are NOT major misconduct offenses because it was less than 30 day sentence (in other words, no $$ to pay fine).
    Thanks again for your help!!

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:

    RCBev,

    If the drug was anything other than marijuana, it is a Major Misconduct Offense regardless.

  14. DYLAN says:

    Navydoc,

    I got back from MEPS last tuesday and i was pdq with history of shoulder dialocation and i need a eyesight waiver because my eyes are -8.5 and i needed an “ear flush” necause of wax build up. I went to my family practice and got am ear flush with documentation, as well as i had my opthomologist fill out the MEPS eye prescription sheet ( because i was on the border line of needed and eye waiver). From what my recruiter told me he says i have to wait 10 days for my drug test and blood test to come back. Then i can go back to meps for a shoulder consoltation. My question is…when i go to get my shoulder consplt, will they clear my eye and ear issue the same time? Or do i have to go three different times for each waiver… then when the third party doctor looks at my shoilder, whats after that and when can i swear in lol!. I got a great asvab score. 89 afqt. Please imform me if you will. Thank. You so much sir

    Dylan

  15. RCBev says:

    NCCM,

    The young man I was working with to try and join the Navy has given up — unfortunate. I gave it my 110%. :(

    Thanks again for all your help.

  16. NCCM(Ret) says:

    RCBev,

    I am sorry to hear that.

  17. Jo&Bill says:

    Our son is on his second recruiter and is having the most horrible experience. He has surgery on his leg 3 1/2 years ago and was completely cleared for all activity 3 weeks after surgery. The recruiter said that MEPS was requiring additional paperwork, including physical therapy paperwork. My son never had to have physical therapy. Long story short, I sent all ER paperwork and a letter from the surgeon stating that my son didn’t need PT on Apr. 7th. After no response from the recruiter I contacted MEPS directly. The recruiter got really upset and said that if I interfered again they would not allow my son to process. I backed off and my son has been corresponding with him directly. (My son is 17 and highschool senior). The recruiter has never contacted my son without my son contacting him first. He is now asking my son for the exact same paperwork. When my son texted him to say I had already sent, and called to leave him a message, the recruiter will not respond. It has been almost a week with no response. My son signed original paperwork in March and we cannot get anything out of this recruiter. What do we do?

  18. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jo&Bill,

    Your son being 17 years of age, you have every right to know the details about what is going on, and I do not know why the recruiter appears to be uncooperative.

    It is likely that when he gains permission to process, he will start the physical and be sent out for a separate orthopedic consultation — depending on the MEPS, that could happen the same day.

    “The recruiter got really upset and said that if I interfered again they would not allow my son to process.” Your son’s processing won’t be stopped unless he is found not to be qualified. If he continues to be evasive, I recommend contacting his supervisor, or call directly to the local command headquarters to talk to the Chief Recruiter (each of the Navy Recruiting District’s contact information can be found via the links on this page.

    I am sorry for the experience you’re having to date — I wish there was something more I could do to help.

  19. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Now, reaffirmed per instruction COMNAVCRUITCOMINST 5604.1Q of June 10, 2014, all Navy Recruiters will have the following on the reverse of their business card:

    Navy Recruiting Command
    We at Navy Recruiting Command are committed to professional,
    honest, and respectful treatment of every prospect and applicant.
    Commander, Navy Recruiting Command
    (901) 874-9003

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