Friday, January 27, 2006

Military Entrance Prevention Station

MEPS has been living up to it's name lately. Two 2807s and associated documents have come up missing for me this week. They, of course, realize these things at the last minute, despite the fact the projections were received at least two days before. During the prior regime at MEPS they would catch errors like missing pages, incorrectly completed paperwork, or outdated documents the day they were sent down. The admin assistant would take something off the fax, exam it, and cross-reference it off the roster for that individual. If more was needed we'd receive a call informing of the mistake. It was a wonderful system. It wasn't perfect, and the ball would sometimes be dropped (on both sides), but it worked.

The best I could say for the MEPS operations since the change of assistants is that I don't wish them horrible death every day. But this week has just been one repeating problem after another. This morning was the best of the week though.

It started well enough. I was still high on the endorphins my newfound power provides me. I whipped a knave on my way in, and I had two homeless people engage in a battle to the death for a half-eaten QT breakfast sandwich, and my entertainment. I'm at the office and I go over the PMS for the week thusfar with the CLT. For the next hour, I assume, the CLT was going over the roster with MEPS. I get a call at 10:00 saying that they needed the 2807 downtown on my guy for tomorrow morning. Now. I provide the 2807. Five minutes later I get a phone call saying that the 2807 wasn't any good because in his name block he wrote his name "First Last". Now, I know we're in the Army, and we almost always write our names Last First on documents. However, on the name block, on the first page of the 2807 (2nd page actually, but I never include the directions page) it doesn't specify. On every other page it does the Last, First, MI thing, but not on the first. I've seen and done 2807s both ways without issue before. This time though, huge issue. World is ending. He will not phys or enlist unless tomorrow unless the name is fixed. I fix it. Refax, and get ready to find my next contract.

Stop. Phone rings.

The MEPS again. The fax was missing a page. Re-refax. Start looking for next contract.

Stop. Phone rings.

MEPS again. I didn't include the 1966 page 6 (parental consent for the kid to enlist, he's 17 afterall). I was glad to hear this because it reaffirmed my sanity. I knew I'd already faxed this because I distinctly remembered having to fax the 1966 pg 6 on Wednesday when I faxed it the first time. Can't fax it to them now because I put the 1966 in the packet, which was currently sitting in the "in" box at MEPS. I get a dismissive remark about how I should have gotten all this to them earlier. I do the only thing I can do "Hoo-ah Master Sergeant, I'll do better next time." I will tilt windmills. I have no problem doing something insane if I think it has a chance of working, or not making things worse. Getting into a pissing match with the E8 in charge of the guidance shop will not end well for SFC B.

Anyway, go on with the day. Do an appointment with a guy in the Guard who's coming up on ETS. I do the FS orientation for my 09L. And I help SGT W^3 get his IRR-TPU contract done. I'm happy.

Stop. Phone rings.

MEPS. Again.

Now, the school district this kid is in has a short summer. 78 days to be precise. The Army requires 77 days for training, plus like 2 weeks after the end of the school year to account for snow days. Snow... days... in... PHOENIX!!!! The last time it snowed in Phoenix was in December of 1998. Anyway. I worked with the kid's parents, his counselor, and the assistant principal for academics and they agreed that, if he's ready, he can take his exams as early as 15MAY so he can join the Army. They will not allow him to take the exams if he isn't ready because, well, it's a one-shot deal. He blows them because the exams cover things he won't touch for two weeks it's his loss and he'll possibly fail his junior year. I felt that was reasonable.

The issue that MEPS seems to have is that the letter from the asst. principal and parents do not explicitly state in BIG BOLD LETTERS that he will take the tests on the 15th. They are phrased so as to allow him to take the tests later, even up to his scheduled completion date, if he's not ready. I explained the conversation and my position to SFC SC2 and he feels that it's something that will work out in our favor tomorrow. I hope so.

This whole things strikes me as a Clintonian "what 'is' is" moment. When recruiters complain about how it seems that MEPS doesn't want to enlist someone this is what I'm referring to. This is a painfully fine hair being split. The parents, the counselor, the administration, and the kid all want him to get as much out of his education as possible. As do I. If the difference between him passing his finals with a grade that raises his GPA, or one that lowers it, is one week of class, I say let him take the week. It's not my choice though. R2 produced a training plan that will allow him to ship for training, train, and graduate in time to make it home with about a week to spare. And missing no school. He can't afford to be recycled, but I don't think he plans to fail. If MEPS' interpretation of applicable regulations prevents him from enlisting, that's their call.

I've got another early one tomorrow so... have a good one folks.


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