Military Entrance Processing Station
At the eve of World War I, in 1917, Camp Gordon was established in Chamblee, Georgia, to prepare Georgians for entrance into the armed forces on a larger scale than had ever been seen in the Southeast. Drill sergeants kept all inductees in very strict and regimental order and kept the new troops busy throughout the Camp.
In the 1930’s, the regular Armed Forces of the United States was the sixteenth largest army in the world. Seeing a need for war preparation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the military to expand in a quiet manner. In Georgia, Fort McPherson was selected as the major processing station in the South. In the early 1940’s, applicants were strictly segregated by service and highly regimented at all times. It was not unusual for more than 500 applicants to be processed in a single day.
In 1954, as the Korean War ended, the Armed Forces decreased its numbers and consolidated its processing. During the country’s longest and most unpopular war the processing center on Ponce De Leon Avenue was the gateway for one of the most patriotic areas of the nation. At its peak it was not unusual to see as many as ten charter buses a day leave the center with applicants destined for various basic training installations and later to the war in Southeast Asia. In 1971, on a Saturday morning, the building was fire bombed due to anti-war sentiment. Unlike today’s processing, a large number of applicants processed in this building were draftees.
As the draft ended the processing needs of the Georgian applicants were moved to a smaller but more comfortable facility in downtown Atlanta on West Peachtree Street. In 1974, at this new station, an era in professional processing began, and a maximum effort was put forth to make the applicants’ day as comfortable as possible. This station was the site where recruiting of military personnel faced one of its greatest challenges: Attracting high-quality applicants from the nation’s fastest growing city. While other cities across the nation were suffering from inflation and financial stagnancy, Atlanta was building skyscrapers, and creating thousands of job opportunities. Yet, its young citizens continued to answer the nation’s request for members to the Armed Forces.
By late 1981, the Armed Forces began to expand again and a larger facility was needed. A building on Tenth Street was selected and remodeled to facilitate the processing needs of the applicants. Unique to this station is the advance in computer processing techniques used by the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command as well as the specific applications used by each of the Armed Services. Although this new station could process more the 300 applicant’s daily, normal workload varied between 70 and 120 applicants per day. Later that decade, in the Fall of 1986, processing began at the Martin Luther King Federal Annex on Forsyth Street. This new facility continued the advance in computer processing techniques used by the USMEPCOM.
The current location for the Atlanta MEPS was designed and built specifically for use by the MEPS. With an approximate construction cost of $3.7 million ground breaking for the new facility was held on August 14, 1997. Personnel from the MEPS began processing applicants from this facility on August 30, 1999. The normal tour of duty for military personnel assigned to the station is three years. Enlisted personnel are career oriented and must be a minimum grade of E-5. All personnel assigned to the MEPS have the primary mission of assisting each branch of the military in processing personnel for duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Atlanta MEPS is one of a network of 65 MEPS located nationwide and in Puerto Rico.
A separate Department of Defense (DoD) agency, USMEPCOM is comprised of two geographical sectors and staffed with personnel from all military services.
The mission of USMEPCOM and the Atlanta MEPS is to process individuals for enlistment or induction into the armed services, based on DoD-approved peacetime and mobilization standards.
Three primary areas are considered in determining an applicant's qualifications for enlistment:
- aptitude for military service
- physical qualification
- background evaluation screening