I want to preface this by saying my enlistment into the National Guard, even as an officer candidate, was extremely easy and quick. I feel the need to tell everyone that I had the best recruiter(s) on the face of the Earth, and I attribute my extremely positive experience thus far to them. Never once did they push me to go in enlisted, as that would obviously have benefited them more than processing an officer application. That being said, clearly not everyone’s enlistment will go quite as smoothly. God knows there’s hundreds of thousands of recruiting horror stories where various individuals have felt worked over, not listened to, and had overall disastrous experiences with recruiters, but I can safely say I was not one of them!
On May 10, 2017 I first contacted the National Guard via their website chat option. I was able to give the chat technician some preliminary information about myself to determine if, I suppose, I was worthy of continuing on in the process. From there, I was given the recruiter of my area’s contact information and sent an e-mail that evening.
By the next morning, I had an e-mail from a different recruiter from the same armory family. His e-mail was short and basically an invitation to call him to discuss what the upcoming steps would be. I think the biggest factor that helped in speeding up my enlistment process from the beginning was the amount of research I had done before ever contacting a recruiter. I understand recruiters are there to answer any questions one could possibly have regarding joining the military, but I liked to read firsthand stories about others experiences and make an informed decision on my own, before ever speaking to someone in uniform.
This all meant that my first call with my recruiter was relatively short. I had thought of about three or four questions I had yet to find an answer about that I asked, but I had left our conversation wanting to hear back from the Air Guard before meeting with him. As we all know, that call never came. I was slated to meet face-to-face with my recruiter the following Wednesday, May 17. During this meeting, I was given a pre-enlistment questionnaire to fill out (regarding basic information, past and present addresses, educational background, and references for EVERYTHING!). The biggest pain in the butt were definitely the references. It didn’t seem so bad until I handed in the questionnaire the next day and was told no references could be duplicated. You couldn’t use the same person as verifying you lived at such and such address in 2012 as well as verifying you worked as such and such place at the same time.
All in all the questionnaire was pretty painless. That being said, I also had only had two surgeries in my life–a tonsillectomy when I was a kid and an appendectomy in 2010 (and, who knew, but apparently there’s a paperwork difference between having a laparoscopic appendectomy and the one where they just make a giant incision in your abdomen?!). My biggest advice to speed up the process here would be to make sure you have any surgical records available right away! It was mentioned as he was inputting my information into the computer I needed the location and surgeon that performed my appendectomy…luckily I had phone access to my medical record and could pull up the information right away, but I can only imagine how much longer the enlistment process would be if you had 10 surgeries and didn’t have immediate access to the information pertaining to them!
Totally, I was in the recruiter’s office for about half an hour to an hour on May 17 and probably about 3 hours on May 18 with my finished questionnaire. This was also the visit when he verified any legal issues (tickets, citations, etc.), and took fingerprints to add to their system. I’m sure this process is the exact same for those on the enlisted side, but all of this plus some (high school and college degrees and transcripts) would be added to my officer package to be put before the officer candidate board for approval. He also requested information on outstanding loans so I may qualify for the Student Loan Repayment Plan (I’m thinking there will be an entire post dedicated to that–I still haven’t gotten all my questions answered with regards to repayment so stay tuned if that interests you!). Anything I didn’t have, which I believe was only the student loans, I was able to get to him that evening and he forwarded them to the education department the following day.
I was given a date to go to MEPS for the following week–May 24-25, but not before completing my officer board interview the morning of the 24th. The interview will be discussed next in Pre-enlistment Part II!