What Are The Steps To Joining the US Military

I was watching Gomer Pyler USMC and Gomer is manning a recruiting station with typical hilarious results. This station is in Hollywood, CA

Anyway a robber, robs a bank and then gets away. He then sees Gomer at the Marine recruiting booth. He runs over to avoid the cops, who aren’t chasing him but he fears may recognize him.

So Gomer tells him, "Well you just sign up and then you go to the center for your physical then they take you to San Diego for your induction.

The robber seeing this as a way to get out of Hollywood fast, signs up. Then later Gomer sees a description in the paper and realizes what he did.

But that doesn’t seem right to me. You just don’t sign a paper, take your physical and they woosh you off to the induction center. Or do you?

Of course this was the 1960s and everyone but Gomer and Sgt Carter was worried about Vietnam, so maybe back then they acted quick or it had something to do with the draft. You know induct them in their choice of military rather than wait for the draft.

Anyway, what are the actual steps to getting into the US military

Let’s start from the recruiter.

So if I see a recruting booth, I go to the recruiter and ask him about it. If I decide I want to sign up, what happens next?

[edit] Oh yeah, BTW Gomer eventually catches the thief

They’ll tell you what day you can get inducted. It’s possible that it could be the same day but highly unlikely. Then you go to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) on that day. They do a physical, test you for drugs, give you a contract, and swear you in.

Then you’re in the system. They’ll give you a date when you’ll get on a bus and ship out to Basic Training. That date is based upon when your schools have starting dates. For example, my job school only started every 2 months, so they said “We can get you in at the end of October, so you’ll go to Basic in August. So you’ll have to hang out here for the summer. You cool with that?” I said I was, signed the contract, and shipped out three months later.

ETA: “Here” = my house.

You contact a recruiter, and provide evidence of your citizenship or perminant residency (birth cert. or ‘Green card’), academic qualification (HS diploma, GED, University degree, etc.), and any applicable medical records (for thing like busted bones, etc.).

The recruiter interviews you, to refine you qualifications, and will check your crude physical quals by checking your height/weight, interview IRT things like sleep walking, bed wetting, bolts, pins, plates, screw, asthma, and other conditions. He or she will also likely give you a screening ‘pre test’ for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), to get a rough idea of your placement scores - Unless you already have a valid ASVAB score on the records (and they will know if you do).

Presuming you have no obvious disquals, and haven’t taken an ASVAB yet, there will be some preliminary paperwork to be filled out, including an SF 86 (Background check), which will be sent off to various agencies for police record checks, and you will be scheduled for an ASVAB test.

Presuming you get a ‘good’ score (i.e. one that matches up with the needs of the service), you’ll be scheduled to visit MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) where you’ll be interviewd some more, take a physical, and fill out some more paperwork.

Presuming you get a passing physical, and have no disqualifying factors (serious police record, un-satisfied judgements against you, probation, belonging to a violently radical group, etc.), you’ll then sit down with a classifier, whom will look at your scores, your desires, and the needs of the service, and negotiate with you the job you’ll sign up for, and when you’ll ship out.

After visiting the Classifier, you’ll do still more paperwork, preview your contract, and swear in (for the first time).

On shipping day, you’ll again go to MEPS, fill out yet MORE paperwork, swear in a second time, and get your butt on the bus.
IF you have medical issues, you may instead be sent to MEPS for a ‘consult’ visit, where the docs will look at you and determine is 1) you can qualify, and 2) what kinds or records you’ll need and / or what kind of specialists you may need to see, to determine if you are qualified. Any specialist visits will be schedlued (at no cost to you), and you’ll be given date(s) to show up for your consults.
Mind you, this is a general description, and not even remotely as detailed as it could be -there are multiple services, and each does things slightly different. I recruited for the Nav, and know their procedures the best. When I came ‘off the bag,’ only roughly one potential applicant in four was mentally, morally, and physically qualified to join any of the services. That’s right: 75% of the target population was unfit to serve. If a recruiter comes knocking, and keeps coming back - consider it a compliment of sorts.

Oh, JFTR: the absolute fastest I ever saw an applicant move, from entering the Recruiting Station, to ‘butt on the bus’ was three days. And those were three intensely busy days for both the applicant and his recruiter. It was also a very high quality applicant - Smart, motivated to join, with all records in place and no defects at all.

More normally, a ‘fast shipper’ goes in about a week.

Thanks that answers my questions and quickly might I add

Now for part II, just out of curiosity does anyone know about recruiting in the 60s.

I mean I know TV shows are not accurate and some like Gomer Pyle USMC are very loose with plotlines for the sake of the comedy.

I was wondering if it might have been easier or quicker in the 60s

Thanks again

Sorry - no idea about the 60s, though I do understand that with conscription still actively used, things were a lot different. How, I could’na tall ya. :wink:

Tranquilis, when you were recruiting, what was the last point at which a recruit could back out? Or, to break it down a little:

1.) What was the last point at which a recruit had an absolute right to back out, regardless of his recruiter’s preferences?

2.) What was the last point at which a recruit would normally have no trouble backing out, even if the service could technically have insisted that he stay in?

Technically, once you’ve sworn the first time, you’ve committed to a contract with Uncle Sam. Realsitically, any time up to getting on the bus, if you’re willing to make a large enough fuss about it, you can decline, though very few change their minds after raising their hand the second time.

Practically speaking, though, a ‘Depper*’ can attrite at any point up to their last visit to MEPS for shipping without any adverse effect - Even though they’re reneging on a sworn contract. The Military does not want malcontents. Someone about to attrite will likely have to deal with some fairly high-pressure attention from his or her recruiter, their recruiter’s NCOIC or RinC, and the Station’s Zone Supervisor, but none of those people will force the issue, if the recruit truly wants to attrite. I’ve had it happen to me, and it’s intensely frustrating- not least because the Depper that attrites is usually only screwing themselves out of a good job whilst facing prospects considerably less good.

OTOH, I’ve seen a few (rare!) Deppers attrite because they got some awesome offer - full ride scholarship, a job in their father-in-Law’s firm, that kind of thing. In those cases, we tear up the contract and wave them a merry goodbye - There’s no way we’re going to waste our time arguing with that kind of good fortune.

  • Delayed Entry Program reccruit - Almost all, save those very rare Direct Shippers, recruits are Deppers for some period of time - Even if only for a couple days.

The US draft went on until 1973. I knew a guy who was drafted during Vietnam and he joined the Air Force right after he was drafted so that negated his draft. I was not aware you could do that but it worked for him. He joined the AF to avoid Vietnam and it worked , he never left the US during his service.

Well, yeah, you could join *Gomer Pyle’*s army in a day. Or F-Troop.

But a MASH* unit took a little longer, unless you were replacing a top-billed character. B.J. replaced Trapper John pretty quickly.