Unacceptable Delays in Enlistment Processing

Hurry Up and Wait

Published: April 24th, 2014
Updated: February 18, 2015
By: Thomas Goering

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?

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36 Responses to “Hurry Up and Wait”

  1. Gale:

    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:

    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):


    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):


    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:

    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:

    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):


    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:

    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:

    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):


    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:

    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:

    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):


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

  14. DYLAN:


    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


  15. RCBev:


    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):


    I am sorry to hear that.

  17. Jo&Bill:

    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):


    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):

    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

  20. Justin:

    I Recently took the ASVAB Scored High Enough to get a EOD contract, but before I can enter the pipeline I have to go see a DOD doc at MEPS and get approved. Its been 2 weeks and still no idea when I might be able to go and get screened Navy recruiter just keeps telling me to wait and they will let him know when can I go. Is this true or am I just being put off? there aren’t many navy recruits where I live maybe 5 or 6 and he hasn’t asked me to fill out any paperwork or anything.

  21. NCCM(Ret):


    Do you have any previous police involvement? Have you filled out any of the medical screening questionnaires? Is there medical documentation that needs to be submitted for review? If you scored well on the ASVAB, and you don’t have any police or physical issues, you should have already been to the MEPS.

  22. Justin:

    I do not have any Involvement with the police (I Used to be one) and I have no medical Problems or paper work to be reviewed I am Glossary Prior service from 2010 But It’s been so long since then it shouldn’t even be a problem. He hasn’t had me fill anything out so far just says the Specwar guy up at at meps has to let him know when I can go.

  23. Justin:

    Pretty sure he is waiting to make his quota next month

  24. Faren [Last name redacted for privacy]:

    I have been waiting for a response from MEPS for 5 months.

    I was seeking reenlistment to NAVRS (formerly in the ARNG) and there was some confusion on my re-enlistment eligibility–I needed a “sole caregiver” (forget the title) type of waiver… otherwise, I have a very strong ASVAB, no med hx, no crim hx, and only student loans (good standing) in the way of debt.

    The ARNG was very cooperative and provided all necessary documentation (NGB-22, etc.), and a letter stating that I was eligible for re-enlistment and I provided the other legal documents and personal statement.

    My Navy Recruiter was very helpful and seemed enthusiastic about getting my packet submitted to MEPS. However, since submitting my application in Oct., 2014, I’ve only heard from her 2-3 times…and then only to inform me that MEPS hasn’t responded.

    Is this normal? After 5 months should I still expect to get a response from MEPS?

    I understand that when a waiver is involved the process will be protracted…but if for some reason I’m not eligible, I’d just like to know. I’d hate to think that MEPS would elect to “round file” my application. I have considered contacting a different recruiter, but really don’t want to undermine my current recruiter if it’s a MEPS issue and out of her hands…

    Any advice would be appreciated and utilized.


    [Last name redacted for privacy], F.C.

  25. NCCM(Ret):


    I assume NAVRS means Navy Reserve?

    What kind of response are you waiting for from the MEPS? The MEPS only responds to ASVAB and medical queries; the recruiting district would be who responds to everything else — neither of whom would “round file” your application. No issue would take 5 months to get a response when processing for the Navy. Did you serve out your entire contracted time in the ARNG? Did you graduate high school? Are you a single parent, and if so, is your debt to income ratio in-line?

    Again, what issue is in front of you that requires a decision from higher up before you can move forward?

  26. Faren [Last name redacted for privacy]:

    1. Correct, Navy Reserves.

    2. I’m not certain what response I am waiting on from MEPS–they haven’t run me through my medical screening yet, so I suppose that’s one thing I’m waiting on…?

    3. Did not serve out full contract, no. (I was hardship discharged before I even shipped because I was an only child with dependent/disabled parent, but that situation has passed, so I needed a waiver on changed circumstances..all documentation was submitted to my recruiter…I am unsure where that information went from there, but recruiter tells me that it’s at MEPS…?).

    4. Graduated, from high school, college, grad-school, and law school.

    5. Not a single parent, no.

    6. Not sure what issue I am waiting on that requires a decision from higher up…but I will ask.

    FYI–I’m not submitting an officer application or anything fancy–not seeking any credit for my education/experience. I simply want to return and serve out my duty to my country–which I don’t feel I have fulfilled yet–at any rank or in any position, because I don’t like to leave things unfinished. I attempted to return to ARNG and they didn’t seem to have any concerns other than I had aged out of eligibility…I haven’t aged out of Navy Reserves.

    Thanks for your response.

  27. NCCM(Ret):


    Ahh, roger that. That makes it a little more clear.

    Firstly, there is no excuse for not having an answer to you yet — five months is beyond acceptable. MEPS responds within 3-5 days to ANY inquiry per their own regulation, so it isn’t a MEPS issue, and must lie with the local NRD or the recruiter herself.

    I am going to make a couple of guesses that may help formulate questions for your recruiter:

    Based on not completing your contract, you will require a waiver to reenlist. If your NGB-22 had an RE-4 or any other RE-code that denies reenlistment, then that would be an insurmountable problem unless you were able to have that RE-code changed — I cannot recall whether RE-codes even are shown on an NGB-22, but if it is, and it is the disqualifying code, there is your problem.

    If it is an N/A or RE-3 (which I expect), then it requires an RE-code waiver from CNRC — if you are otherwise fully qualified, and it sounds like you are, this waiver takes time to put together and takes up to 2-4 weeks to gain approval (usually faster) — this may also be your problem because you won’t “count” until the waiver is returned and you go to the MEPS to get your contract — or even worse, if they determine you are still in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), and you don’t “count” until you ship off to boot-camp. This whole thing could be just an unprofessional only taking the time to pick the fruit closest to the ground. Although culpable for not sharing this with you, this may not be the recruiter’s fault — somewhere in her chain of command might have put a hold on things for when the easy fruit becomes harder to find.

    Regardless of which one of those it may be, I highly recommend that you pursue the officer route, too. If you have a discussion with the officer recruiter about the length of time you have been “on hold”, that, too, may help speed things along.

    Those are my guesses. I hope it is something else that just isn’t coming to mind because as I said, there is no excuse for putting applicant’s lives on hold like what you have experienced.

    An aside, my oldest son graduated Penn State Law (Dickinson) after his time in the Navy.

  28. Faren [Last name redacted for privacy]:

    Thank you Sir! This gives me a much clearer picture of what might be happening… and I will frame my questions to my recruiter accordingly.

    Congratulations to your son–Dickinson is a great school!

  29. Rose:

    My son took the ASVAB at MEPS and scored 92. After, 2 weeks the recruiter called him and asked if he would be interested in taking the Navy Advanced Placement Test, and if he scored well he could have a chance to go to Nuclear Engineering program. And if he past the Physical. Unfortunately, my son scored a 53 and you need a 55 -80 to get accepted. During his Physical the Meps doc said he had a sway back or curvature of the spine? two days later I asked his recruiter what this all meant. The recruiter said that my son would have to wait until the MEPS Doctors called the him (recruiter) to schedule a appt with their Orthopedic doctor to get a X-ray by the navy. After 3 weeks we are still waiting for someone at MEPSTo call us? Or some doctor to call us to give us an appointment for this exray? He has never had any back issues. They also said he had dirty ears but passed his hearing. Is he suppose to get his ears cleaned before they call him? Is it true that he has to wait 3 months before he takes the NAPT again, that is what recruiter said. Please help an anxious mom. Thanks

  30. NCCM(Ret):


    Did the MEPS tell him to what degree his scoliosis (cannot be greater than 30 degrees) or kyphosis and lordosis (cannot be greater than 50 degrees) may be? If greater than the amounts I described, and the Navy will not entertain a medical waiver for it, there won’t be any call forthcoming as he would be finished for the Navy. Those degrees of curvature are not normally waived because they are considered to already be generous. The reason the issue is disqualifying is because a large curvature such as that more often than not can lead to back problems in the future.

  31. Rose:

    They did not do an exam for scoliosis or lordosis. The doc had him stand up against the wall and said he was sway back. He said he would need to get X-rays from them. That was all they said. We are waiting for someone to call to make an apptment. Meanwhile we are in the holding zone. how can He speed up this process. He has some curvature but only at most 5%. he is almost 19. Should I take him to a ortho get X-rays and send to the navy?. Why does it take Meps so long and why didn’t they X-ray him that day?

  32. NCCM(Ret):


    Swayback is lordosis. I do not know why an x-ray wasn’t done if the MEPS doctor wanted it — the MEPS doctor can evaluate the degree of one’s curvature; getting an x-ray is fairly routine and does not take anything special (waiting on an appointment time with a consulting physician). If the MEPS doctor saw only a 5 degree curve, then it would not have been a concern because that is well within normal limits. The direct question I would ask his recruiter is, is your son permanently medically disqualified (PDQ)?

    I would not recommend taking him to any doctor until you have a definitive answer as to what is required.

    I wish I could be more help.

  33. Rose:

    Dear NCCM (Retired),

    You have been a great help thank you for your time. I will ask the direct question.
    I want to help my son have all his ducks in a row. Do you know if he has to wait 3 months to take the NAPT again. Also, do you know if the Navy accepts college credits from University of Phoenix? Thanks again.

  34. NCCM(Ret):


    At the bottom of the Advanced Program Test page is the NAPT retest policy written out in full (yes, a minimum of 90 days must pass plus additional stuff).

    The Navy will except college credits from an accredited U.S. college (non-remedial classes do not count) — more detail can be found on this page.

  35. rose:

    Dear NCCM (Ret),

    Hello again, Thank you for the above info. After several calls to the recruiter we finally have a date in a month for Doc Appt. Apparently, my son has a varicocele. can he be disqualified for that too? He is not PDQ’d. We are praying for Gods Will be done.

    Your site has helped me be less anxious. I will let you know what the Doctors say.


  36. NCCM(Ret):


    Left varicocele, if painful or symptomatic, or associated with testicular atrophy, or varicocele larger than the testis — or if the Left varicocele does not reduce or decompress completely when supine would be PDQ. A Bilateral or Right varicocele by itself would be PDQ. Depending on the severity, a waiver is possible.

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