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What Does Vetting Mean in the Military? – Military Dictionary

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

what does vetting mean in the military

If you are about to or are in the middle of applying to join the military, you might come across the term “vetting.” What does vetting mean in the military? Who does it apply to? What should I know about this?

You probably have a lot of questions about this unique-sounding term. Understanding this, we have put together this detailed article. So, read until the end to get all the information you need!


Meaning of the Term “Vetting”

In general, “vetting” can be defined as a procedure that happens during the recruitment stage. It is when a background check is conducted on the recruiting candidate before he or she can be offered employment.

Meaning of the Term “Vetting” in the Military


Vetting is most popularly known for candidates in political office. But the meaning carries into the military context. Before a person can be accepted into any of the service branches, they must be vetted. Hence, the vetting national guard meaning is the same.

This procedure happens from when the recruit begins his or her application, with the majority occurring at the MEPS – military entrance processing station. There will be a local, state, and federal check launched on recruits.

Note: It can be referred to as a security clearance, as well.

The DoD – Department of Defense performs a series of investigations where the character and conduct of the candidate are judged. Various aspects will be considered, like trustworthiness, reliability, criminal activity, financial responsibility, and emotional stability.

Here are some of the specific information files that will be looked at:

  • Criminal Records – All convictions and non-convictions will be examined. Those with a 1-year sentence (or longer), related to drug addiction, or are recent can make it a lot more challenging for you to pass the security clearance.
  • Financial Records – Taxes, bankruptcy records, and credit scores will be reviewed. Your chance of being deemed a promising recruit can be lowered by any unfavorable records.
  • Marriage Records – Any indication of questionable conduct, like domestic violence and cheating, can hurt your chance of securing a security clearance.
  • Driving Records – Your license will be evaluated along with any DUIs and problematic driving records.

Recruiting candidates will also be asked for their fingerprints. The military uses them to check against the FBI’s database.

Drug use will also be assessed. Recruiting candidates will have to take a drug urinalysis exam. It is when a urine sample is collected and tested at laboratories for the presence of any substance. Usually, lab technicians test the samples through gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, which delivers highly precise results.

Here is the more specific sequence of events:

  • The recruiting candidate urinates in a given container to collect a sample
  • This is done with the presence of an observer to prevent cheating
  • The test administrator takes the collected sample
  • The collected sample is set with the others in batches
  • The recruiting candidate sign a chain of custody paper with everyone else involved
  • The container batches are transferred to the lab for drug screening
  • The collected sample will be put through an immunoassay screening
  • If the 1st result is positive, another immunoassay screening occurs
  • If the 2nd screening is positive too, the collected sample will go through mass spectrometry

For more details, watch this video:

Here are some substances that the military tests for: amphetamines (plus methamphetamine and designer amphetamines, such as MDMA – molly or ecstasy and MDA – adam), benzodiazepine sedatives, cannabinoids synthetic, cocaine, codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, marijuana, morphine, meth, oxymorphone, and oxycodone

If you fail the drug test, you have a second chance to take a re-test after 90 days. However, if you also fail the second test, you are disqualified from joining the military permanently.

So, to make sure that you do not lose your opportunity to become a military service member, you can test yourself at home first. Use home drug test kits, such as the Identify Diagnostics Drug Test Cup with 12 Panel and the Easy-Home Instant Drug Test with 5 Panel.

In 2016, a new change in the Army’s regulations dictated that officer nominees for promotions must also be vetted. This ensures that they are mentally, morally, physically, and professionally up to par for the position and exemplary conduct. Vetting, in this way, is applied to promoting officers from CW3s to CW5s, captains to colonels, and first lieutenants to chief warrant officers.

Meaning of the Term “Vetting” Overtime

The root of the term “vetting” is “vet,” which was originally horse-racing jargon. It referred to the process of a veterinarian checking a horse’s health before it could go racing. Hence, “vet,” here was a contraction of the term, “veterinarian.” The verb form of “vet” meant to “treat an animal.” For example, “It is necessary to vet the horse before he races.” Towards the start of the 1900s, vet also evolved as a synonym for the term, “evaluate,” with a negative connotation. As a result, its new context lies in searching for flaws.

Meaning of the Term “Vetting” in Other Contexts


In transitional justice

It is also possible to grasp the meaning of the term “vetting” by considering it in the realm of transitional justice. This is a process that countries go through following a time of conflict to decide what should be done to public employees who violated human rights and the institution that allowed those people to do so. Vetting takes place to filter and ensure that public employees are suitable for public employment.

In today’s typical company employment

Today, the vetting procedure is also performed for any regular company employment. Before a candidate is accepted for a position, the company launches an investigation on the candidate’s background to determine if he or she qualifies and should be accepted into the company.


Now that you have read about “What does vetting mean in the military?” you should be able to easily explain the vetting troops meaning and vetted troops meaning. We hope that you found it interesting and informative. If you have any other thoughts or questions on this topic, make sure you leave them with us in the comments below. Please help us share this with other readers too! Thank you in advance!

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