The Delayed Entry Program
Most recruits today join the military through the DEP. This means that you sign a contract, sometimes while still in high school, promising to enlist in the military at some future date, up to one year away. While in the DEP, you are actually an untrained member of the non-drilling Reserve component of the military. If you choose to remain in the DEP, you will show up on your assigned date at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), at which time you will be discharged from the Reserves and you will sign a new contract to re-enlist in the active branch of the military you have chosen.
If you choose not to join the military after signing up for the DEP, all you have to do is not show up and you will not be in the military. You do not have to have any further contact with your recruiter or anyone else in the military. You are not obligated by law, or any authority, to answer the door or the phone, or to go anywhere with the recruiter. Again, all you have to do is not show up and you will not be in the military.
Recruiters are under tremendous pressure to fulfill their obligation to get people to join the military. Often, when a person in the DEP informs the recruiter that he or she has changed his or her mind and no longer wants to join the military, the recruiter will say it is too late and that there is nothing that can be done. The recruiter may tell the person he or she must report on the date scheduled. Recruiters often say things like, “If you don’t show up you will be AWOL; you will go to jail and get a Dishonorable Discharge. It will ruin your life.”
THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH. If a recruiter tells you this, he or she is violating military regulations that state that recruiters cannot threaten or harass people in the DEP. The Army regulations explain it this way:
"Under no circumstances will [a recruiter] threaten, coerce, manipulate, or intimidate D. E. P. members, nor may they obstruct separation requests. (USAREC Reg 601-56§3-1.c) ... At no time will any [recruiter] tell a D. E. P. enlistee he or she must ‘go in the Army or he or she will go to jail,’ or that ‘failure to enlist will result in a black mark on his or her credit record,’ or any other statement indicating adverse action will occur if the applicant fails to enlist.” (Exerpted from USAREC Reg 601-95 §3-1.b.; see also USAREC Reg 601-45 §2-3.h.)
This quotation is from the Army, but every branch of the military has similar wording in their regulations.
Still, harassment, intimidation and dishonesty by recruiters are all too common. If you choose not report when you are scheduled, you can try to avoid some of this harassment by going out of town or staying with a friend that day. If the recruiter pressures you or tells you that you will be in legal trouble if you do not show up for Basic Training, refer them to the military regulations. Ask him or her, “By what authority are you violating military regulations?”
And call us for more information.
You don’t have to go. If you don’t go, you are not in the military. It’s as simple as that.
But why would my recruiter pressure and coerce me, or lie about my rights?
Recruiters have a job to do. They have a certain quota they need to meet each month. You don’t count towards the quota until you report for boot camp. If a recruiter consistently fails to meet this quota, they get poor evaluations, fail to advance through the ranks as required, and/or get transferred to less desirable job assignments. They might even be deployed to a war zone. It is in the best interest of the recruiter to get you to sign up and go to basic training.
The United States has an all-volunteer military. That means that no one should be forced to join the military who does not want to go into the military. This includes those who join the DEP and then change their mind.
Remember: All you have to do is not go.