The Delayed Entry Program, also called the Delayed Enlistment Program or—in the Army—the Future Soldiers Program, is a program whereby individuals going into active duty in the United States Armed Forces enlist first in the DEP before they ship out to Basic Training, or "boot camp." While those who join the DEP have signed an enlistment agreement to report on a certain date for training, they are not yet in the Army (or Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard) until they enlist in the regular component of their branch on their ship date.
DEP members who change their mind and decide not to enter the military before they begin active duty will be separated with no adverse consequences. The Army DEP regulation, as an example, states that "under no circumstances will any member of [the recruiting force] threaten, coerce, manipulate, or intimidate FSs [future soldiers], nor may they obstruct separation requests" (USAREC Reg. 601-56, 3-1c). While the DEP enlistment agreement states that the military can technically order any DEP recruit to active duty in the event that they do not fulfill their commitment by reporting to training on their specified date, no recruit has been involuntarily ordered to active duty in decades. While Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force recruits are in the DEP, they will be encouraged to spend a significant amount of time at their local recruiting offices with their recruiter who will begin to train them in military fundamentals such as drill and ceremony, first aid, chain of command, and rank structure prior to leaving for recruit training and active duty service.
(From Paragraph 3-1c of USAREC Reg. 601-56): "Members of the recruiting force must respond positively to any inquiry from FSs concerning separations from the FSP. Under no circumstances will any member of this command threaten, coerce, manipulate, or intimidate FSs, nor may they obstruct separation requests. When such an inquiry is received, local recruiting personnel will attempt to resell the FS on an Army enlistment. When an attempt is not successful (not later than 14 days from the original request), advise the FS of the provisions governing separation from the FSP and tell them a written request for separation may be forwarded to the Rctg Bn commander. Emphasize that the FS may submit a request for separation even though his or her reason for it does not fall within an expressed category, such as hardship, dependency, apathy, and/or personal reasons. A request for separation must be personally signed by the FS who initiates it. His or her request should include complete justification for separation and the documents required by AR 135-178, AR 601-210, and as outlined in appendix D of this regulation. If the FS cannot be resold, his or her Recruit Quota System (REQUEST) reservation will be canceled."
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