Originally, I was going to pass on writing about this. Due to it making me extremely upset and disappointed. A few people suggested that someone else may have a similar situation, so here goes my personal military story.
My brother joined the Marine Corps when he was 18, and I was a 20 year old getting ready to start my junior year of college. I really had no idea what I wanted to do in life at that time, some may say that I still don’t. He and I talked about me enlisting, and I decided that it was something that was always in the back of my mind. The military has always been a big part of my family life. I went to the Navy recruiter’s office in my hometown, and was told to finish college and come back with my degree. That is what I did, except a lot of time and a bunch of other life things happened before I made it back.
Now to somewhat present day.
I looked up the maximum age for the Navy and realized that I was almost there! I am only in the age bracket to join the Reserves now. Disappointing, but I will take it. I knew I wanted to be a corpsman, and I could do that in the Reserves. I called my local recruiter and made an appointment to get the paperwork started.
I don’t think my recruiters really took me seriously until after they had me take a practice ASVAB test and they saw my scores. They were shocked that my score was higher than the 18 year old’s who just finished high school. I guess they thought you just lose intelligence with age? I don’t know. I do know that if my score wasn’t one of the highest, I would have been disappointed in myself. I expect the best from myself in everything. It can be a fault at times.
I get my MEPS date, and head to have my physical done and take the real ASVAB test. The military puts you up in a hotel, and wake you up at 4:15 am to take you to MEPS. My roommate was a 17 year old girl, who asked me to wake her up because she wasn’t sure if she would be able to wake up on her own. They give you wake up calls in your room, and you know how loud hotel phones ring! Regardless, I had to wake this child up so she could join the military. She also lost her enlistment packet and ID. I have no idea how she did this, because those are two things that we had to have with us at all times.
Once we got to MEPS, I realized that I am the oldest who is enlisting. I forgot to mention that I am too old to go straight into Officer Candidate School, and have to go enlisted first. Then I could go to OCS. It didn’t make sense to me, but ok. Even though I was the oldest, I was not the worst physically. There were people that looked as if they never worked out in their life.
I included running to my workouts to prepare for the running in recruit training. I even took an adult intermediate swimming class to prepare for the swim test. I knew how to swim already, but I wanted to be a stronger and more confident swimmer. My ASVAB score was great, I was physically fit, and just under the age requirement. So what happened?
My blood pressure was too high at MEPS and I was sent home. I was nervous, anxious, and excited at the same time that morning. I don’t remember what it ended up being, but I was devastated. I was given a form for my primary care doctor to fill out, stating my blood pressure reading once an hour for three hours. I had the form completed that week.
Sent up to MEPS again, and sent home again because I was supposed to get three days worth of reading, not one. This was not conveyed to me nor my recruiter prior to that morning. I went home, and had three days of readings taken..once an hour for three hours. All of my reading were around 120/80, which is normal.
Gave my papers to my recruiter to send to MEPS. They responded by now requesting an EKG. What??
I asked my recruiter if this was about my age, and not really the first blood pressure reading at MEPS. He said that it sounds like it is more about my age. I guess MEPS thinks that I will have a heart attack while doing the exercises that I already do on a daily basis.
I took a bit to think it over. This was something that I really wanted to do in my life, and I don’t want to give up. I went to my doctor for the EKG, which he thought was a ridiculous request.
An EKG is an Electrocardiogram. It is a recording of electrical activity of your heart, using electrodes. I will admit that it was cool to see my own readings.
No surprise to anyone, it was normal.
My recruiter sent in the paperwork showing my completely normal EKG. MEPS responded back with a request for me to have a ECG done. An ultrasound of my heart.
Where is the line? What is enough to show that I am just as healthy, if not more so, than the others? I took five days off work, paid out-of-pocket for five doctor visits, and showed normal for everything they have requested. I realize that I questioned where MEP’s line was located, but I see that I should ask myself that same question.
How many hoops am I willing to leap through to convince MEPS I am perfectly capable to perform the duties of a US Navy Sailor?
I haven’t decided that answer just yet. This is something I have really wanted to do, and I am not sure if I am ready to throw in the towel. I asked my family and friends who are veterans (and a few active Navy) what they thought of my situation. They all said that it sound about par for the course for MEPS. MEPS tries to keep you out of the military, and your recruiter tries to get you to get in. Would a different recruiter make a difference in my case?
I haven’t had the ECG done, but I still have time before I age out of this opportunity. When that comes back normal, I wonder what else they could possibly request.
People in their 30’s aren’t old. I am in better shape now than I was in my early 20’s, and I was in shape then too.