It’s not unheard of for an enthusiastic Military Entrance Processing Station recruiter to complete an SF-86 form for a new military recruit. However, complications may arise for clearance applicants if someone else fills out this paperwork.

The main issue arises when a military recruit inaccurately completes the form, leading the security clearance applicant to rectify the incorrect information.

Nerves strike when a service member’s MOS requires them to go through the process of obtaining a TS/SCI clearance and they know a background investigator is going to come knocking. Such is the case with this ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber:

“Hello all, I have landed myself in a horrible position but I would like to get some insight into the process moving forward. I need a TS/SCI for my MOS, Army. I just turned 19. To keep things short, my recruiter pressured me to lie and was adamant that I stick with his story or else it would come down on him. Before going to MEPS, he had me fill out a questionnaire and I was completely honest, I listed all of my drug use which was:

Marijuana: 2019-2020 (2-3 times), 10/2022-06/2023 (Frequent, varied from monthly to weekly use), 11/2023 (1 time, last use)
Mushrooms: 06/2023 (1 time)

He proceeds to tell me that I must omit my use at MEPS or they will disqualify me, and that their sole purpose is to do just that, so I must ignore their tricks and stick with my story. I went back and forth with him for a good while, telling him that I want to be honest and I was willing to roll the dice and accept whatever happens to me.

He would not budge, and kept telling me how none of his applicants admitted to their use, and finally wrote down “Applicant used Marijuana a total of 3 times from 2019 to 2023” and submitted it. I never saw my SF-86, or anything like that at all, but after he submitted this, I figured I had no choice but to stick to the story or else it’d be over for me. And so I did.

I seriously trusted this dude and thought he was right, I lost all confidence in the beliefs I had before and believed what he was saying. I felt so flustered cause he would not acknowledge anything I was saying, it was so weird and I am so mad. He was all like, oh, that’s later down the line you don’t have to worry, you just need to get through MEPS, etc.

Anyways, now I am about to ship out to basic and I want to come clean to my Investigator whenever it happens, I understand that in the end I made the decision to listen to him but this feels horrible.

If anyone could tell me the following, I would appreciate it: When will my Investigator get into contact with me? Can I seek out my Investigator before this? I want to deal with this ASAP. Have any of you experienced something similar, how did it go?

I know my references, and any developed references wouldn’t cause any issues for me, and I would likely make it through but I don’t want to run any risk of lying because I genuinely want to be honest and open. I listened to bad advice and made a big mistake, so I want to correct things now rather than later. I also want to pursue certain opportunities which will require a poly and whatnot, I don’t want to lie forever and roll the dice with the machine either.”

We echo other background investigators on the thread that note that honesty is the best policy moving forward. This scenario has happened much more than you think and background investigators have likely encountered it in the past. One investigator says, “You will probably get an interview for marijuana use within the last year. All you can do at this point is tell the truth about everything— your drug use, your experience with your recruiter, and anything else that may come up. I have seen this several times.”

And while you can’t pre-contact the investigator, they do have a process for reporting the MEPS recruiter for falsification on the form.

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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸