Written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET)
Published: August 21, 2008
Updated: February 14, 2019
From the Navy Recruiting manual concerning the Delayed Entry Program (DEP);
Delayed entry is the military status gained by an enlistment in which a service member’s entry on active duty (ACDU) or initial active duty for training (IADT) is postponed for up to 365 days (12 months) with the exception of juniors who will be mid-year graduates. All up and coming new high school seniors (scheduled to graduate at the completion of the next school year) entering DEP during the months of May, June and July are authorized to remain in DEP for a maximum of 455 days (15 months).
When you enlist, your date for leaving to recruit training (boot camp) will hinge on a few factors. First is when would be the first day you would be eligible to leave. Are you still in school? You want to ensure proper notice of current employer or you have entered a program which requires a certain amount of time in the DEP due to additional qualifications you must meet – the number of things to consider are as varied as the people who join. Next is what are you qualified to do? Are there any boot camp vacancies and do those vacancies line up with the class convening date of the job training you wish to select and are qualified for? The DEP is a management tool used to ensure proper boot camp and follow-on school level loading. It provides the ability to place people in “out-months” to help the recruiting commands gauge and monitor the potential to hit in-year accession targets.
The Delayed Entry Program is NOT available for applicants to “try out military life.” If you are not convinced the particular branch is for you, then do not join – seek out more information until you are satisfied with your decision. If you do join a branch of the military, and during your DEP time realize you absolutely do not want to leave for boot camp, then tell your Recruiter. Expect him or her to ask you some questions – it is not uncommon for anyone to have a certain amount of “oh, crap, what I just do” – that’s human, so don’t let the emotion over take the sound logic you used while making the choice in the first place. In the end, if you are convinced the military is not for you – you will be discharged.
Because it is the right thing to do, all the branches of the US military use the time you might have to wait [DEP time] before boot camp to maintain your motivation for the military service. Your Recruiter would enter into a more of a mentor-leadership roll. Taking the time to ensure you are mentally and physically ready for the challenges of boot camp greatly reducing your chance of failing. Attend the DEP meetings, work on your advanced qualifications, and for goodness sake, ask questions!
Your military experience will be what you put into it.