BAY RIDGE — Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Military Entrance Processing Station, which processes applicants for all branches of the military and covers New York City, Long Island, Westchester County and parts of New Jersey. It’s the second largest military entrance processing station in the country, after Los Angeles.
The anniversary celebration took place on Friday, Oct. 18 at the processing station, hosted by Lt. Col. Patricia Jones-Johnson, MEPS commander. It was a chance for soldiers, veterans and community members to pay tribute to all those who have entered the service through the MEPS during its 50 years at Fort Hamilton.
Jones-Johnson welcomed all the returning soldiers who had passed through MEPS, the first step in creating soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines and members of the Coast Guard. She offered a brief history of the program which originated in New York in 1886 at 39 Whitehall in Manhattan.
During that era, it was known as the “Induction Center.” After a bomb blast inside the building in 1969, the then “Whitehall Examining Entrance and Station” was moved to Fort Hamilton and renamed the New York MEPS. It’s one of a network of 65 MEPS located nationwide and in Puerto Rico.
The Military Entrance Processing Station plays a vital role in providing a qualified, effective and able-bodied all-volunteer force and its mission is to strengthen the world’s military by evaluating and processing military service applicants. “We’re the first ones people see when they come into the service,” said Jones-Johnson.
“The New York MEPS has been the foundation of leaders such great leaders as New York’s own former President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congressman and Army National Guard Officer Max Rose,” she added.
“Nine years ago I had the honor and privilege of standing at the Brooklyn MEPS to be sworn into the United States Army. And just six months ago, I again had the privilege of standing there to swear in a new group of soldiers to begin their service,” Rose told this paper.
“Each time I’m back, I’m reminded of the incredible work MEPS does bringing together people who have so many differences but share a commitment to this country and deeply held patriotism,” added Rose.
According Jones-Johnson, the processing station has enlisted hundreds of thousands of men and women into the armed forces. The New York processing station annually conducts an average of over 9,600 physicals, 9,000 medical inspections, 14,500 aptitude tests, 13,000 special tests and 7,000 enlistment contracts.
It also ships approximately 6,900 individuals to basic training and conducts some portion of processing with over 16,000 applicants annually.
A highlight of the ceremony was when Jones-Johnson gave the Oath of Enlistment to five new applicants, one from each branch of service.