Delayed Entry Program (DEP):
On the GI Rights Hotline, we receive calls from service members in all phases of military service. Some of our favorite calls come from those in the Delayed Entry Program, individuals who have signed up but not yet reported for basic training. There is no easier time to get out of the military without repercussions; the military will even take them back if they change their mind. Our information and support to people in this situation allows young callers, who feel stuck in the military, to pursue completely different directions in their lives.
Recently, we had a single call with two Marine DEP recruits on the line, both seeking to get out of their contracts. They’d heard stories about intimidation from recruiting commands that included recruiters showing up at the recruit’s house with a sheriff’s deputy or, in another case, with two officers for the purpose of convincing the recruit they had to report. On another day, we received eight calls from people related to DEP issues. One person had hastily signed up for the military when he thought he had no other options. When he got into college, he saw higher education as a better plan. Callers are relieved to know that they can choose not to report without being arrested and without negative consequences.
Another recent DEP call came from the father of a Marine recruit. The father reported that his son had gone to speak to a recruiter several months prior. The son had a one-inch tattoo on his hand, which currently would disqualify him from enlistment. The recruiter was not so easily deterred. Using a Brillo pad and rubbing alcohol, he scrubbed the recruit’s skin until the tattoo was no longer visible and subsequently signed him up. The recruit’s hand became infected, necessitating multiple trips to the doctor and one to the emergency room where he required intravenous antibiotics. The son originally told his dad he had an injury, but didn’t say how he got it. Only recently did the whole story come out, and the father called the GI Rights Hotline for ideas about how to proceed. We discussed the option of reporting the abuse as well as options for getting out. The next day we spoke again to the dad, who had accompanied his son to a different recruiting command where they were filing a report about the incident. We don’t yet know the outcome or whether the son will continue with the Marines, but we give this case as an example of the desperate measures recruiters will take (regardless of what they say) to get recruits signed up.
Another father called us very concerned about his son in the Air Force. According to his dad, this young man had a very low IQ and an ADHD diagnosis. His father was extremely surprised that the Air Force had accepted his son, and we confirmed that, in his case, the recruiter seemed to ignore obvious disqualifiers and somehow convinced the son not to reveal them to anyone at any stage of the recruiting process. The consequences for the young airman became quite serious as he attempted to make it through basic training, only to fail miserably. Clearly unfit for duty and threatened with fraudulent enlistment (which would be a negative discharge on his record), he grew very anxious and upset. We counseled the dad (we were never able to talk to the son) that, because the Air Force (and every other branch) are aware that recruiters encourage recruits to hide information, they rarely charge unqualified recruits with fraudulent enlistment. We told him that his son should receive an Entry Level Separation, a very benign discharge without negative ramifications (the same type of separation that DEP members receive), and the father was able to pass this information on to his son and reassure him. In the end, the son did receive such a discharge. In this case, just sharing correct information provided considerable peace of mind to the family.
Recruiters have noticed our efforts. Ironically, some have called over the years to complain that we are ruining these young people’s lives. Last month a recruiter emailed the Hotline to challenge our description on the web site of how recruiters deal with people in the Delayed Entry Program. He said he was especially concerned because we come up first on internet searches for getting out of the Program (a point we immediately celebrated). He also stated that most recruiters do not choose that job, but are involuntarily assigned. Steve wrote back a sympathetic letter explaining that he understood the difficult situation that the military puts recruiters in and that we have heard this directly from multiple recruiters who have called over the years, looking to get out themselves or to get help with their own circumstances. At the same time, Steve told him that we have to give recruits a realistic picture of what to expect, which typically includes a lot of pressure and misinformation from recruiters. The recruiter explained that he only wants to help people get what they desire. Consequently, Steve asked him what he does for people who decide the military is no longer the goal for their future and invited the recruiter to be in conversation with us. So far no word back.
False Hopes of Citizenship
The current administration’s stance on immigrants is all over the news. Family separations affect people in the military, too. Just this morning, Steve spoke with an Army private, a father of two, whose wife was just deported, essentially making him function as a single parent. Recruiters had falsely assured him that the Army would help his wife get citizenship. At the GI Rights Conference this spring, we heard from an immigration attorney that, in the current climate of intense suppression of immigration, the military no longer offers an expedited path to US citizenship. The Military Accessions Vital to National Interest program (MAVNI), which offered a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants through military service, was shut down by the Trump administration last year, and many of these cases are being fought in federal court. In addition, new policies in place now ensure that recruits with green cards will face long delays for background checks, effectively stalling the process of acquiring citizenship so much that it would be faster going through civilian channels. In their desperation to get more people into the military, recruiters do not always convey this information accurately. We made additions to the GI Rights Hotline website that reflect some of these changes and the need for potential recruits who are not US citizens to check with immigration attorneys before making costly decisions.
All of our efforts to offer truth in recruiting would not be possible without you, Quaker House’s loyal supporters. Your donations touch the lives of hundreds of young people each year who have signed on the dotted line and then think they’ve run out of options. When they find Quaker House and the GI Rights Hotline, they find new possibilities, personal assistance and compassion from an actual person, and the chance to take back control over their future. Thank you for giving them hope.
~ Lenore Yarger and Steve Woolford, Quaker House GI Rights Hotline Counselors
GI Rights Hotline: 1-877-447-4487
A slightly shorter version of this post was originally published in our Summer 2018 newsletter. Contact us or fill out the form on this web site if you would like be added to our mailing list.