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Unacceptable Delays in Enlistment Processing

Hurry Up and Wait

Written by
Published: April 24, 2014
Updated: November 21, 2018

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 (link updated to reflect the new MEPS timeframes).

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.

(SEE UPDATE BELOW) 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?

UPDATE: According to NavyDoc, “The new timelines for prescreens are mandated by USMEPCOM as of May 6, 2018. MEPS medical departments have NO leeway whatsoever in meeting those prescreen processing deadlines. If you summit a prescreen with exactly 50 pages, MEPS medical has no more than 9 working days to complete the prescreen, no exceptions. There is no “medical department is too busy,” “Army submitted too many records,” the doctors working today are too slow” excuses allowed, since staffing for physicians is based on workload. If your prescreen is not returned from the medical department on time (medical has the formula # of pages divided by 6 = # of days to read prescreens). The longest it can ever take, for prescreens with more than 180 pages, is 30 days.”

Update: As of June 1, 2018, MEPS has a new policy for medical document prescreening timeframes. The for the new MEPS prescreen document read timeframes use the link provided.



764 Responses to “Hurry Up and Wait”


  1. kayla says:

    thank you for getting back to me! I have already submitted all medical records needed, all of the records that meps requested was submitted the next possible day. I’m just not understanding why it would take almost 2 months to receive any kind of information from them.

  2. Warner says:

    Hi,
    I have a 60 page prescreen in the [Location redacted for privacy] Meps for about 6 weeks. Is it normal to wait this long for the CMO to review it? My recruiter has no information on why it is taking this long and is apparently unable to contact Meps Medical directly due to policy reasons. Who can we talk to at Meps to find out how long it will take if we cannot talk to Medical directly?

  3. Arius says:

    Hello!
    I submitted all of my prescreen paperwork including documentation from 2 of 3 surgeries i had in the past. Gastroschisis at birth (1994, which the hospital had no records for),fistula repair 1995, and a hernia repair 2011. There are only 3 pages on everything 1 being a note from the hospital stating that all the documentation they had was provided. Now I’m just waiting to see if I’m approved or disqualified or in need of more docu. Or a waiver. My recruiter said it could take weeks to get that response from MEPS, but I read your article stating it shouldn’t take more than 3 days. Also note the very first time my documents were submitted, it got kicked backed because apparently I needed an updated “physical examination” (I am a woman) they never reviewed the other docs. My recruiter said they couldn’t even look at that until I had my examination from my gyno. I went, had my exam, turned in the updated results with,again, my docu. From the surgeries. No complications from any of my surgeries or my exam. So I’m trying to figure out why or even if it will take weeks to find out if I can even get an appointment with MEPS. Or at least my chances of being disqualified. I was a track athlete all thee way up into college with no issues with my stomach at all. I did tell my recruiter this. I’m just worried.

  4. Arius says:

    Sorry, I meant to add that I’m trying to join the Navy.

  5. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Warner,

    With 60 pages, you should have had a response within 10 working days. Your recruiter should be able to get answers by contacting his MEPS liaison office — if local policy doesn’t allow it, then his supervisor can make the call. No excuse for having to wait six weeks for an answer.

  6. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Arius,

    If the fistula repair was esophageal related, it is likely you will be disqualified. I do not know the likelihood of for a waiver. It should not take weeks if you only have a minimal number of pages to receive an answer.

  7. Arius says:

    Thank you for responding. But no it wasn’t esophageal. It was on my stomach. But that was in 1995 and on the report the doctor notes that everything was successful and I was able to continue with a normal diet.

  8. Adriana says:

    Hi,

    So I am starting the process over again. I will have to do a new physical and ASVAB since it has expired. My recruiter had me fill out a handwritten statement as to why I want to join and another explaining why I got DEP discharged. My recruiter said I can still enlist,and I would need to speak to their Commanding Officer. They submitted my prescreen, and my recruiter said it’s being reviewed by their Captain. So what happens next? I’m not even sure if they will actually allow me to enlist, but I really am hoping I can. I got DEP discharged from having the stomach flu.

  9. Adriana says:

    Hello, sorry for a new thread.
    I was wondering how long it would take for the Captain to review my records? My recruiter said they are going to try and push for me to leave next month, but I’m not sure since that seems so quick and I’m still waiting on their Captain, and MEPS to see if they will allow me to process, as well as having to get the DEP waiver.

  10. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Adriana,

    I am sure they are carefully reviewing the records concerning your prescribed use of sertraline, amitriptyline, and your previous bout with gastric issues. Based on your previous posts over the last couple of years, it sounds like you have been medically permenantly disqualified — that does not change when a physical expires. I am sure you will have to produce all of your medical records from when you first DEP discharged to present so they can see your issues have fully resolved and that you have completed any mandatory waiting periods the diagnosis and medication use may require per DoD Instruction. If you didn’t submit any additional documents with your prescreen, it is likely MEPS will do nothing but tell the recruiter to get the additional documents.

  11. Sandee says:

    My son has tried to join both the navy and the marines and both have told him he was DQ ed but neither the navy or the Marines have supied the DQ letter eithe by mail or even in person. I am so livid with the military right now I could just spit.

  12. JAZZY says:

    Hi, I am waiting on a consultation from MEPS to go to see a cardiologist for a “mild heart murmur” what are my chances of getting in and how long is this consultation process going to take?

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jazzy,

    A heart murmur may or may not be DQ. It depends on the exact etiology; things like stenosis, regurgitation, and which valve may be affected. The consultation will bear that out. The time it takes for a cardio consultation to be set up depends greatly on the MEPS ability to find an open appointment out in town. Cardio and neurological appoints tend to take the longest to set up.

  14. William says:

    Hello navy doc I submitted a med read 8 weeks ago and I have gotten no response I already got it approved once for the navy however I switched branches because they did not have the rate I wanted and my recruiter gave me the cold shoulder so I know it will get approved again because it goes up to the same doctor that already accepted me is this considered an unacceptable delay by MEPs


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Unless otherwise noted, content written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET).

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