Delayed Entry Program (DEP)
If you signed an enlistment contract but have changed your mind, you can still get out of actually going into the military. Under Department of Defense regulations, a separation letter to the Commander of the recruitment office will get you out. It’s fairly easy. But you must act before reporting for basic training — while you’re still in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). (The Delayed Entry Program is also sometimes known as the Delayed Enlistment Program, the Future Soldier Program (FSP), or the Future Soldier Training Program (FSTP).)
In the past, people could get out of the DEP simply by not showing up when they were supposed to report. However, it’s strongly recommended that you follow regulations by writing a letter to the Commander of your recruiting station stating that you have changed your plans. You can give any reason you like — that you have found a good job, are going to college, are getting married, have family obligations, or any other reason. According to regulations, any reason is good enough. In the letter, we suggest that you state that you do not want to be contacted or harassed by the recruiters. You don’t need to know the Commander’s name. The letter can be addressed to: “Commander,” so and so “Recruiting Station,” with the station’s mailing address.
Click here or on the image below for a draft letter that you can fill in and modify to fit your own situation. It’s a Microsoft Word file.
Recruiters commonly threaten people who decide to leave the DEP with all sorts of consequences — such as never being able to get a college loan, being deported if they are not citizens, being fined, not being able to get a government job, being put in jail, being instantly called into combat duty, and so on.
All these threats are inventive and desperate, but untrue. Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 1332.14 allows anyone in the DEP to request a separation. Each of the services has its own regulation following that directive. For example, the Air Force regulation (AFRSI 36-2001) says simply “Enlistees will be discharged from the DEP when they . . .[r]equest to be discharged.”
Often people leaving the DEP are told that they must have a meeting with the recruiter or come down to the recruiting office. That is not necessary. It’s a last chance for the recruiters to get you to change your mind. Remember, the recruiter is a salesperson and his or her job is to close the deal by getting you to show up at boot camp.
People are also told that they can get out — but only after they go to boot camp and are sworn in. This is also untrue. Once you go to boot camp, you are no longer in the Delayed Entry Program and then it is hard to get out.
The following web sites have more information on the Delayed Entry Program:
- DEP fact sheet (GI Rights Network)
- The Delayed Entry Program (Center on Conscience & War)
- Project YANO literature on the DEP
- Citizen Soldier’s leaflet on enlistment and the DEP (PDF)
You can find the military regulations for the DEP on the resources page of the GI Rights Hotline web site.
|GI Rights Hotline
877-447-4487 toll-free, nationwide
or 831-359-0202 direct to the RCNV counselors