Military service begins at Sacramento MEPS
By Senior Airman Charles V. Rivezzo, 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 25, 2014
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Comprised of individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities and genders, the U.S. armed forces represents the less than one percent of the population who chose to raise their hand to serve their country.
Regardless of your branch of service, career field or specialty, every service member has no choice but to make their way through the doors of a Military Entrance Processing Station.
It serves as the single point of entry to America's armed forces - "Freedom's Front Door."
For prospective applicants in northern California, the Sacramento MEPS represents the doorstep to their military aspirations as well as their first introduction to military life.
Since 1996, the Sacramento MEPS has been the gatekeeper to military service in northern California, processing and grooming America's finest to serve as the future generation of the U.S. armed forces.
"The MEPS mission is truly a rewarding experience," said Senior Master Sgt. Alucia Davis, the senior enlisted advisor for the Sacramento station. "We are the entry point for processing applicants from every branch of the military.
"With only about one percent of the population even qualifying for military service, we are always looking for our country's best and brightest."
Gone are the days of the old practice of herding young people through a maze of examination in drab, musty, green walled military buildings. MEPS officials refer to this transformation as "green walls to red carpet," an accurate description of how the examination process has evolved through the years and reflecting the commands' "red carpet" treatment for applicants processing at the MEPS.
Today's applicants receive a relaxed first military experience thanks to a combination of individual customer orientation and modern, efficiently designed facilities.
With representatives from all branches of service, along with civilian employees working to build the future of the military, the station's area of responsibility spans 80,000 square miles, two states, 37 counties and five recruiting commands; covering the largest area in the state of California and reaching as far as northern Nevada.
"Our MEPS is comprised of 80 percent civilian and 20 percent military personnel, giving us a wealth of knowledge at our station," Davis said. "Approximately 98 percent of the civilians are retired military or have an affiliation with the military as a spouse.
"Each employee is truly dedicated to the mission of processing applicants accurately, efficiently and in 'red carpet' style, to ensure only the best of the best are selected for military service. We have an awesome team of professionals here at the Sacramento MEPS."
The primary job of MEPS is to determine, under military regulations, policies and federal law, whether or not you are qualified to serve in the U.S. armed forces. This encompasses aptitude testing, medical and background screening as well as service counselor sessions to determine job selection.
"All processing for military service is accomplished in the MEPS, starting with bio-metric finger print enrollment, medical examinations, criminal background screening, testing and job selection, culminating the day with the Oath of Enlistment," the senior enlisted advisor said. "The Oath of Enlistment is the first milestone in the applicant's career and it is not uncommon for us to reach 400 visitors by mid-week as loved one's gather to witness this monumental event."
In addition to the applicants who process thru the station, this facility also serves as the last stop prior to being shipped to the various basic military training sites across the country; meaning many immediate family members make the final trip to MEPS as well.
"Whenever I get the chance, I really enjoy sitting down with the parents and answering any questions they may have to calm any of their potential fears," Davis said. "It is truly a rewarding interaction and something I take great pride in doing."
Last year alone, the Sacramento station processed 8,314 applicants in anticipation of being sent off to begin their military careers and shipped 5,327 new recruits to begin their career's spanning across nine Basic Training Centers.
"Not many stations see the amount of family members we see on a regular basis," Davis said. "I firmly believe it can be attributed to the strong community support we receive from our surrounding area. It may not be the most exciting day for the parents or loved ones, but it gives them an inside look at the future of their son or daughter."
Army Maj. Jose Raya-Escutia echoed those thoughts.
"Being part of the Sacramento MEPS family is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences of my career," said the Sacramento MEPS commander. "Our entire team shares an unwavering passion and commitment to our mission and an appreciation and gratitude for those wanting to join our ranks.
"For all of us at our station, it is a privilege and honor to be the first to formally welcome a new generation of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to our Nation's military family."