How Long After MEPS Is Basic Training?

by | Joining the Military | 1 comment

So, you’ve made it through MEPS and you’re eager to know when you’ll start basic training. It’s a common question among new recruits, and understanding the timeline can help you prepare both mentally and physically for the journey ahead.

The timing between MEPS and basic training can vary based on several factors, including your chosen branch and job assignment. While some recruits head to basic training within a few weeks, others might wait a few months. Knowing what to expect can ease some of that anxiety and help you plan your next steps effectively.

Understanding MEPS and Its Role in Military Enlistment

The Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) serves as the gateway for individuals aspiring to join the military. It assesses the physical, academic, and moral standards required for enlistment, ensuring you’re fully prepared for the commitment ahead.

What Is MEPS?

MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station. It’s where recruits undergo a series of evaluations to determine their eligibility for military service. These evaluations include a physical examination, medical history review, aptitude tests like the ASVAB, and background checks.

These processes ensure each recruit meets the necessary standards for service. MEPS locations operate across the United States, making it accessible for those looking to enlist. The time at MEPS can range from one to three days, depending on the complexity of the assessments involved.

How MEPS Prepares You for Basic Training

MEPS prepares you by confirming you’re fit for service. The physical examination checks overall health, while the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) identifies aptitudes and helps determine the best job roles within the military. Background checks ensure recruits meet moral and legal standards.

This comprehensive assessment helps smooth the transition to basic training. By verifying physical and mental readiness before you head to basic training, MEPS ensures you’re where you need to be to start this challenging yet rewarding journey.

Timelines From MEPS to Basic Training

The timeline between your MEPS evaluations and the start of basic training varies. This period depends on several factors, including the military branch and individual circumstances.

Branch-Specific Waiting Periods

Different military branches have unique waiting periods. For example:

  • Army: Often, recruits head to basic training within weeks after MEPS. The window typically ranges from 2 to 6 weeks.
  • Navy: Recruits usually wait between 5 to 8 weeks before starting basic training.
  • Air Force: A waiting period of 4 to 8 weeks is common.
  • Marines: The wait can stretch from 3 to 6 months, depending on program availability and other factors.
  • Coast Guard: This branch generally requires recruits to wait between 4 to 12 weeks.

These periods reflect historical averages and can vary based on recruitment demands and other logistical elements.

Factors Affecting Time Between MEPS and Basic Training

Several factors influence how long you might wait after MEPS before starting basic training.

  • Recruitment Goals: If there’s a high demand for new recruits, the wait time might be shorter. Conversely, lower demand can extend the waiting period.
  • Medical Waivers: If you require a waiver for a medical condition, processing this can delay your timeline.
  • Job Availability: Your chosen Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) or rating can affect your schedule. Some jobs may have immediate openings, while others may require a longer wait.
  • Background Checks: Any issues or complexities in your background check can result in delays.
  • Training Slots: Limited availability in training classes can also extend your waiting period.

Understanding these variables helps manage expectations and better prepares you for the next steps in your military journey.

What Happens Between MEPS and Shipping Out?

Once you’ve passed through the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), the wait begins. The timeline for shipping out to basic training can vary significantly, but several important steps and activities fill this gap.

Last-Minute Preparations

Sorting out last-minute details ensures a smooth transition. You’ll get final instructions from your recruiter, including your shipping date and what to pack. Focus on administrative tasks during this period, like completing paperwork, finalizing financial arrangements, and securing personal affairs.

Attend “delayed entry program” (DEP) meetings if your branch offers them. These sessions help you stay mentally and physically prepared. Knowing basic commands, military customs, and initial physical fitness requirements, reduces stress.

Family and Personal Considerations

Spending quality time with loved ones is crucial. Inform family and friends about your departure date and share contact details. This period allows you to create meaningful memories and say your goodbyes.

Handle personal responsibilities like paying off bills, setting up power of attorney, and ensuring your home is cared for. If you have dependents, make appropriate arrangements for their care. Use this time to mentally prepare for the changes ahead.

Tips for a Smooth Transition to Basic Training

The time between passing MEPS and starting basic training varies, but preparation always makes the journey smoother. Here are some expert tips to help you transition effectively.

Physical Preparation

Physical fitness is crucial for basic training. Start a disciplined exercise routine focusing on cardiovascular health, strength training, and flexibility. Aim to run regularly, increasing both distance and speed gradually. Incorporate exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups to build upper body strength.

Staying hydrated and following a balanced diet supports your physical preparation. Eat foods rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Avoid sugary drinks and junk food to maintain energy levels and promote muscle repair.

Mental Preparation

Mental readiness is just as important as physical fitness. Develop a positive mindset and resilience by setting small, achievable goals and celebrating your progress. Use stress-relief techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or journaling to keep your mind calm and focused.

Educate yourself about basic training routines, expectations, and challenges. Read articles, watch videos, or talk to veterans to understand what’s ahead. Knowing what to expect reduces anxiety and helps you stay mentally prepared.


Exploring the period between MEPS and basic training can be challenging but understanding the timelines and factors involved helps you manage your expectations. Each military branch has its own waiting period and specific requirements that can affect how soon you’ll start basic training.

It’s crucial to stay proactive during this time by preparing physically and mentally. Engage in exercise routines, maintain a balanced diet, and use stress-relief techniques to ensure you’re ready for the demands of basic training.

Finally take the time to handle any personal and administrative tasks to ensure a smooth transition. By staying informed and prepared you’ll set yourself up for success in your military journey.


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