The day before your recruit is due to ship out s/he will report to his/her recruiter's office, for yet another drug test, weigh-in, and another round of paperwork. Then the recruiter will drive him/her to a hotel near MEPS, where recruits get a meal ticket and a room. They cannot have ANYONE in their rooms, even spouse/children, and must be in that room by curfew. In many places they are told they may not leave the hotel, even to have a last dinner with the family, but there is a lounge/restaurant at most hotels used by MEPS to house incoming recruits.
In the morning all recruits at MEPS (all services) will be picked up at about 5:30 am, either by a bus/van if there are a lot of them, or by their recruiter, and taken to MEPS.
When s/he arrives at MEPS he/she will take a final physical exam, another weigh-in and drug test, then wait to be called by a processing clerk. When recruits finally get their turn at the desk, they provide IDs once again, sign a thick packet of papers, then sit in a waiting area to wait for all recruits to finish.
When everyone is finished with paperwork (at this point recruits are mixed - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard), they are all taken to a special room where they will be sworn in. This can take place anytime between about 9 a.m. and noon. If family members are waiting in the MEPS waiting room, they can be there for this part. They often do two ceremonies, one ending with "So help me God" and one finishing with "I do so affirm," as preferred by each recruit. It's a very crowded little room, with almost no space for an audience, so pictures are difficult. Many MEPS officers, who lead the oath, will recreate this ceremony with individual recruits for family members to take pictures.
Then the recruits go back to the office, each is given their file, recruits are separated into small groups according to their service/destination and given meal vouchers to eat at the airport. One recruit will be put "in charge" of the group. They will be loaded onto a van, charter bus or are given subway/train tickets to the airport. At this point they will be expected to stay with the group but are not supervised.
You CAN go to the airport (separately) to meet your recruit, you may be able to get a gate pass to sit with your recruit at the USO or the gate if there is time before the flight. A better option is to make sure your recruit has his/her cell phone to call and chat while waiting. They cannot use their phone at MEPS or on the plane, but they can call from both the originating airport and the Chicago airport.
When your recruit arrives at the Chicago airport, they can take an hour to get a meal if it's not already really late. They should make it a big meal - they have a long night ahead of them. Then they report to the airport USO office, where they wait for a bus to pick up them up and take them to RTC.
Once they step on the bus they must turn their cell phone off. Those who have cell phones will get to make a 10 second call from their phones a few hours later, it could be 5 p.m. or 1 a.m., depending on how late their flight gets in. Within an hour of that call, the recruits put their phones in a box with all of their other belongings (even their underwear!) to ship home. Usually the battery is put in one shoe and the phone in the other.
For more information about what happens next, you should watch the video Navy Racks: Boot Camp. It's a little bit dated, the uniforms are different now - but it gives an excellent overview of what their experience will be.
Thanks, that helps a lot.
Talked to him once he was in the first airport and we got to text after he got to the second airport (O-Hare). It was almost 5 pm in Chicago and he was told they were getting on a bus to be at boot camp before 9:30 pm. He knew he had to get dinner and he knew he was not going to sleep for many many hours. I asked if he had made a buddy, and he said yes, which made me feel better. He also said that he would get a 10 hour sleep after all the processing was done.
I won't talk to him again till he can call out using a pay phone - expecting about 3 weeks, as his Dad and Step Mom got the 10 second call.
From looking at what has happened for others with recruits in the Chicago Bulls Division, the recruits will leave for the RTC from the game. They will be sworn in at the half or later and then will leave before the game is over. In fact several recruits had made the "I'm here!" call before their families who had gone to the game had gotten home or to the hotel if they stayed in Chicago.
Yes, he will still go to a hotel the night before shipping (the recruiter will give you more info) and he will leave from the game soon after swearing in. He won't see the end of the game. You may get the "I'm here!" call before you even get home, so make sure your phone is charged and where you can hear it and get to it.
So I was at the MEPS for my son this morning. It was pretty cool. After he completed stuff that he referred to as "phase one" and "phase two" and "phase three" then he told me he was discharged from the DEP and was now active. (he thought it was cool because that meant that now he is getting paid lol).
So then this head guy calls out names and the recruits (there were 17) and the parents/family members were put into a classroom style room, where civilians sat on the left and the now military personnel were seated on the right.
Then he did a power point presentation discussing the final piece of paperwork to be done prior to swearing in. This paper was more validation that there was no drug use, drinking under age, legal issues, mental issues, or illness etc during DEP that they have not admitted to yet, and they were initialing yes or no on their form.
He then went over the laws and penalties pertaining to things like: deserting the military, under age drinking, and I can't remember what else. He asked at least 4 more times throughout this presentation if they still wanted to join, and all continued to affirm with a loud "yes sir!" response.
I thought that was pretty cool because he gave an overview of the next 3-4 days in BC, how to behave as military personnel even in civilian clothes, avoiding the wrong crowd, respecting your parents and being grateful to them, and that if they still have all their stuff in a room in their parent's home, they need to pay them for that haha. It really was pretty cool and yet the guy was very real about the rigors they will experience over the next 2 months. He was kind of harsh, but in a way that it was real, yet inspiring because he encouraged them to remember why they joined in the first place. He said you each have your own personal maybe internal reasons why you joined, and you just have to remember that when you are in your toughest moment.
Really nice experience. That presentation was a terrific distraction for what I may have otherwise been feeling. I so appreciated that, because I was distracted enough to be strong for my son, and to not send him away as a blubbering fool, but rather as a strong and hopeful supporter of his choice to enlist.
That is pretty cool that you got to witness all of that.
They swear in and fly out on the same day. Its all explained in Arwen's original post at the top of the page.
This is interesting, but I have a feeling some things have been changed since this was written. Our daughter was allowed to go out to dinner after checking into the hotel and had to be back by 9:00. She was NOT allowed to bring her phone on the plane. She had to send it home with me. We just got her box with all her clothing, but also the things that we were told to send with her like writing paper, envelopes, a dictionary, and toothbrush and toothpaste. Kind of confused about that.
No two families Navy experiences are identical. And no one person has all the answers.Yes, it keeps things interesting.
Interesting that she was not allowed to take her phone as most are.