Delayed Entry Program (DEP/Future Solder Program)
WHAT IS IT?
Most people who enlist are signed up into the Delayed Entry Program (DEP)—also called the “Future Soldiers” program by the Army— for up to a year before they report for active duty training. This allows them to sign up before the date set up for training.1
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
This program is used very often by recruiters when trying to encourage high school students to sign up, especially those that might not have an idea of what to do after graduation. The problem is that a lot can change in a year, and students that initially signed up for the DEP might have second thoughts about enlisting later on.
In this case, the most important thing to know is that the easiest way to get out of the DEP is to not go or report to your shipping date. It is not necessary to contact your recruiter or send out a letter explaining your decision, or to fill out any paperwork or forms. Because their job is to convince young people to recruit, recruiters might attempt to talk you out of your decision not to go, and even not make it clear that you can walk out at any time before your actual enlistment date. If you are a victim of harassment from a recruiter that is trying to pressure you to sign up, contact GI Rights Hotline.
According to the GI Rights Hotline, “choosing not to report on the ship date has led to uncharacterized discharges in all known cases, whereas reporting to boot camp makes getting out a much more complicated process with potentially far more serious ramifications.”2 It is possible to get out of the DEP using these steps up until signing the last sheet of the military enlistment contract (blocks 20, 21, and 22 of the DD form 4/3)3.
This might be different for Reserves and National Guards since they are often not put into the DEP and different state jurisdictions may choose to punish people who don’t report to basic training. Contact the GI Rights Hotline to learn what steps can be taken to get out of these branches.
If your immigration status depends on military enlistment, it would be advisable to contact an immigration attorney. You may request free legal counsel from the American Immigration Lawyers Association Military Assistance Program.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
- If you know a young person in the DEP who might be having second thoughts regarding the military, link them to this page. You might also want to link them to the GI Rights Hotline, where they can call a counselor and get more information.
- If you are considering enlisting, we recommend you read this to get a balanced take on the risks assosiated with military enlistment. You can also check out the Winning the Peace campaign.
- If you are concerned that a recruiter might not have been completely truthful when convincing someone you know to sign in to the DEP, link them to Winning the Peace, which aims to give a more balanced view on what military enlistment entails.
- If you want to learn more about the DEP, read the different regulations for the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines, the Coast Guard, and the Department of Defense.