A little-known fact about me: I’ve been to MEPS. MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station, and if you are on your way to becoming a soldier, this is one of the final steps before going to boot camp. It’s a process that makes sure you are medically able and physically fit to join the Army. So how did I end up here?
Well, I applied to be a part of the U.S. Army Field Band as a singer. The army, however, makes sure you are up to snuff to be a soldier before you are even able to audition to be a part of the chorus.
So, I ended up at MEPS just north of Chicago, and I had to spend the night there. We, bright-eyed and eager high school seniors and serious re-enlisters, were all paired together with a roommate. This was the first time I had ever heard of the term, ‘battle buddy’.
Having a battle buddy at MEPS
Right from the start, you’re introduced to the Army way of life. The ‘battle buddy’ is one Army value that I experienced firsthand at this very brief introduction to Army life. For some reason, a complete stranger can become your good friend in less than 24 hours when you are sharing a common experience like being processed for the military.
You start to rely on each other to get through the long waiting, the nervousness to pee in a cup, and the awkward doctor's inspections. I realize that having someone to go through experiences with has been invaluable to me in sticking with things.
My accountability buddy for PrEP
My battle buddy at MEPS has become my ‘accountability buddy’ out in the world and how I keep up with PrEP. One of my good friends and I check up on each other pretty regularly because we live so far from each other. They also take PrEP so it becomes a check-in point in our conversation with each other. I don’t have to hide anything from them at all.
I am grateful to have my accountability buddy be a mirror for me. And I hope that I provide the same opportunity for them. After checking in, we keep it moving and talk about all the other things in our lives that have us moving forward.
Support and connect with others
Having someone to go through the PrEP journey with is especially helpful in the beginning. Starting a new routine and adjusting to the medication is a shared experience that we as a community can come and support each other in.
An accountability buddy doesn’t always have to have a physical presence. It can be a phone or video call away to just say, “Hello, and did you take your medication today?” It could also mean checking in with other community members on our Facebook page or taking part in a poll.
Our engagement with the community can be check-ins or daily reminders to take your medication. It’s fun to share our experiences and connect our health to others facing the same challenges.
Do you have a battle buddy or accountability buddy story to share? Comment below!
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