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Originally appeared as an Ask Us! Q&A in the June 2000 issue of Y&M Magazine
Q - question

How do I get out of the Delayed Entry Program?
And if I do get out, will they give me a dishonorable discharge?

Getting out of the Delayed Entry Program (also known as the Delayed Enlistment Program or DEP) is much easier than you have probably been told. You do have a right to get out. And you will not be alone: the Department of Defense reported that 15% - 24% of those in the DEP in 1999 changed their minds and left the program. If you are having second thoughts for any reason, it is best to get out now. It is much more difficult after you have started training.

Your recruiter may have told you that you can’t get out once you’ve made a commitment to the DEP. He or she may tell you that you can be arrested or denied a job. However, none of these types of threats are true. Getting out of the DEP will not leave you with a criminal record or a bad discharge. Although you took your first oath when you joined the DEP, you are not a member of the military yet and will not receive any type of dishonorable discharge.

The DEP allows you to sign up to join a branch of the military up to a year before you report for active duty training. Many young people sign up in their last year of high school and then finish school before starting military training.

In the meantime, your life can change: you can get a job, decide to go to vocational school or college, find a job training program, or have more family responsibilities. You may decide that the military is not a good fit, for instance, deciding that you cannot kill people (conscientious objection). You may realize that you have a medical condition that may cause problems for you if you were in the military. Or, you may find out that the recruiter’s promises – of money for college, certain types of job training, being stationed in a particular part of the world – may not come true.

Any of these reasons – and many more – are sufficient to leave the DEP.

How to Get Out

If you would like to get out of the DEP, you must write a letter to the commander of the recruiting station you signed up at. State that you are no longer interested in the military, that you want to be separated, and your reasons why (such as any of the ones listed above). Keep a copy of the letter for yourself after you send it.

The military will review this letter and then should void your enlistment. However, after you send your letter, you are likely to face a lot of pressure – including the types of threats mentioned above – from your recruiter (who is under a lot of pressure to enlist people). Keep in mind that these threats are not true and that separating from the DEP will not have bad consequences.

Also know that your recruiter is likely to try to get you to change your mind or to agree to a different job contract. Remember that if you change your mind about the military, now is the best and easiest time to get out.

If you are having trouble or want more information, you can contact the GI Rights Hotline, toll-free, (800) 394-9544 or visit their website on DEP.

A - answer

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