Monday, March 10, 2014

Denver MEPS is 'freedom's front door'

by Airman Emily E. Amyotte
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

3/7/2014 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- There are plenty of movies depicting boot camp where tentative faces pile out from a bus into the grasp of screaming drill sergeants, are put through strenuous physical and mental tasks, and over the timeframe of a couple months are transformed into basically trained and proficient military members. But the onboarding process it takes to get those faces onto the bus in the first place is as equally crucial for success.

The Denver Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS, is one of 65 total MEPS locations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico responsible for reviewing and processing the men and women who aim to be the future of the U.S. Armed Forces. Though geographically separated, Denver MEPS gains support services from Buckley Air Force Base as one of 84 Buckley base partners.

Since the mid-1950's, the Denver MEPS has dedicated itself to ensure that the quality of applicants are suitable for military service.

"We are the gateway into the military," said U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Bray, Denver MEPS assistant operations officer. "We uphold Department of Defense standards in order to provide quality applicants to all military branches."

Last year, there were more than 6,000 applicants who processed through the Denver MEPS from both Colorado and Wyoming in anticipation of being sent off to begin their military careers.

For many of the prospective recruits, the MEPS experience is their first introduction to military life.

"We really are the first impression that most folks get of the military," said U.S. Navy Lt. Joseph Abdullah, Denver MEPS operations officer. "We definitely aim to provide a professional environment that's conducive to entering a new profession."

The Denver MEPS aims to change the tradition of uncomfortable, long hours and feelings of being herded through the process like cattle. Recruits may sit in the break room to watch TV, enjoy free Wi-Fi or share their excitement for the future with others while waiting for their turn to process.

"We aim to provide 'red-carpet treatment' to all applicants, recruiters and family members that come through the Denver MEPS," Abdullah said. "It's our primary goal."

Recruits go through testing on mental aptitude, physical ability, and moral readiness while at the Denver MEPS. The applicants' results are reviewed and held to the DOD Instruction and service-specific standards, determining if they are fully qualified for U.S. military service.

"Our goal is to efficiently process quality applicants out to the services," Bray said.

With representatives from all branches of the military, along with civilian employees working to build the future of the military, the Denver MEPS employs a highly competent, technical and motivated team of professionals.

Lt. Col. Keith Collier, Denver MEPS commander, is "dual-hatted" as the commander of the Denver MEPS and the 3rd MEPS Battalion. The Denver MEPS is the battalion headquarters for five MEPS locations that includes the Denver MEPS, Salt Lake City MEPS, Albuquerque MEPS, Boise MEPS and Butte MEPS. It covers the largest geographic area out of all MEPS Battalions.

Once applicants complete their processing at the Denver MEPS, after their lengthy process of aptitude tests, medical examinations, and processing, they are ready to become one of those wide-eyed, new recruits who will one day put on the coveted uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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