In earlier times, a person could walk into a recruiter’s office, sign up and ship off to go to basic training right away. As a rule, that has all changed now, the military recruiter in modern times has to make a reservation for you if you want to join the Military. These reservations or “slots” are often booked up weeks or even months in advance. For that reason the DEP, or Delayed Enlistment program was designed and created.
Anyone wishing to sign up for active duty, with few exceptions, has to first sign up for the DEP. When they sign up for the Delayed Enlistment Program, they are signing up for the inactive reserves, and promising to report at a certain date and time active duty. Most DEP enlistments are for less than one year or three hundred sixty five days.
Once you join the Delayed Enlistment program, can you change your mind? Technically, you are signed up for a legal contract and the military COULD choose to insist that you continue and take you in spite of you changing your mind. Having said that, the answer to the question is: Yes. Yes you can change your mind up to the time you report to MEPS for the second time and ship off to boot camp. Once you report for Boot Camp then you CAN’T opt out.
Why can you change your mind up to shipping out? Well it’s the policy of the DoD to allow a person to change their mind, even though often a recruiter will not tell you this information. They have to fulfill a quote after all; it’s their job. But it’s called an “Entry Level Separation” and is one that you have to request officially in writing for it to be honored.
Some recruiters will try and intimidate you, and tell you that it will go on your permanent record if you change your mind. And frankly, if you have any doubts then DON’T sign up for an enlistment contract until you work thought them. But it is important to know that should you honestly change your mind, up until the time you head for boot camp you are allowed to withdraw without any negative consequences. If you change your mind can you still enlist in the future? Yes, with a couple of conditions. If you decide to join another branch of service, it’s not a problem. But if you want to join the SAME service that you withdraw after starting a DEP program with, you will likely need a waiver. That is not such a big deal but it is something to be aware of.