the BIG day – Graduation from Basic!

July 18, 2008 · Filed Under Basic Training, Military Parents · 3 Comments 

Progress and Graduation:

And the countdown continues!  You worry, and hope for that call (by the way, this is something you’ll be doing for a long time!) Progress is hard to judge, since you aren’t getting calls or letters. BUT – the military thought of this.  There are sites for you to check on what the class is doing – see their schedule and wonder how they pack it all in.  There are links to the sites listed below

SSM: Most units have a web page where you can at least access a syllabus of their training regimen week by week and track their progress towards “graduation”.  And whatever you do — if you can make the graduation — DO IT! You’ll never regret it.

Lela:  parents can get a lot of info on what mail to do (or not do) from the websites, as well as training schedules.  The site really helped me deal with the “no news is good news” part of wondering why my son didn’t write.  I looked at his schedule, saw how chock full it was, or that there was a test coming up, and it eased the worry.

GRADUATION!

Finally – it ends.  They are graduating, and it’s impressive! Now – the graduation date can change.. a few times.  Keep an eye on the website!

The DAY:  First, you meet up at the barracks.. and it’s hard to recognize your recruit!    There are rules that the recruit cannot leave post before graduation.  In some cases, they need a “post pass” to be able to leave the company area – on Knox you can hit the museum, or the bowling alley (which was packed with parents, recruits, brothers and sisters, girlfriends, wives, kids… a very happy place) They have curfew, and cannot drink alcohol. Don’t let them get into trouble on the last night.. because they can and have been set back at the last minute.

They have made battle buddies that they may or may not see again, but for that time, that place, they were closer than anyone else can imagine.  They grew up, lost weight, are suddenly amazingly polite and stand at parade rest when talking to you,  they made a huge decision and are making more every day.

The ceremony is done as only the military can do it.  Marching, music.. and then they put their hands up and take that oath.  There were a lot of tears during that ceremony.. a lot of tears and memories.  Remembering that little boy who learned to ride a bike, the little girl getting on the school bus for the first time by herself, the child who went away to Scout camp, all grown up now.  It was a moment none of us will ever forget.

LINKS:

ARMY

http://www.goarmy.com/life/basic/index.jsp The Army site

http://www.jackson.army.mil/ Ft. Jackson

http://www.knox.army.mil/school/194arbde/index.htm Ft. Knox

http://www.wood.army.mil/HQ310/ Ft. Leonard Wood

http://sill-www.army.mil/434/index.htm Ft. Sill

https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/ Ft. Benning

NAVY

http://www1.netc.navy.mil/nstc/ Naval Service Command – Great Lakes

MARINES

http://www.mcrdpi.usmc.mil/ Parris Island

http://www.mcrdsd.usmc.mil/ San Diego

AIR FORCE

http://www.lackland.af.mil/units/737trg.asp Air Force – Lackland

COAST GUARD

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/capemay/ Cape May – Coast Guard

Let’s get down to Basics – Part Two

July 15, 2008 · Filed Under Basic Training, Care Packages, Military Parents · 2 Comments 

Mail (from home type, multiple)

Mail call is the highlight of the day – and the more mail the better. BUT, and this is a big but, there are rules about what can be sent. Letters, cards, pictures, those are fine. Funny cards can lift the spirits; newspaper articles or the funnies, or the local paper are great. NO Pornography, NO food, NO candy, NO alcohol or other contraband. The packages will be opened, and your recruit will pay the price. Extra PT (physical training) can result, and the heartbreak of watching the drill instructor EATING those goodies in front of the unit, is really adding insult to injury…Things like cough drops are allowed, and in fact are a good idea to send – all those recruits from other parts of the country – all those germs, lots of physical activity and lack of sleep, means their immunity system is down, and they ALL get colds. (But that’s tomorrow’s topic)

SSM: The Army son’s unit also had a contest to see which soldier received the most mail and received the most pictures from home — and our son’s friends certainly got into the spirit of it as he won the most mail and the most pictures contests… However, no food could be sent and the Sgt.s confiscated any food… opening the packages in front of the unit — home baked goods they kept for themselves and destroyed all the rest.  If a recruit received food (or other contraband — alcohol, cigarettes, porn, etc.) the recruit was “smoked” (severe physical training to the point of barfing).

LAW – my son’s request was for cough drops but he loved the cards – I’d send a couple a week, as did his girlfriend at the time. My husband told me – NO food… I so wanted to send a box of cookies, but we knew the rules. Mail call was so important! Any encouraging news, or news about the dogs, the neighbours, old friends, any news at all. But telling him how proud we were of him, really helped him get through it.

SSM: My advice to parents is to remember the military (mom’s) mantra: “no news is good news ’cause bad news travels fast” and to just keep writing those letters, sending funny cards and getting as many of their friends and family to do the same!! Your son or daughter will be sore, tired, depressed, home sick… and they need all the support they can get — even if you don’t hear back from them! They haven’t forgotten you and will call just as soon as they can!

From Lela: [my son] told me that it was heartbreaking to see packages with food destroyed or eaten by the DI’s when they were soooooo hungry.  He did send me a note asking for vitamins and sore throat drops.  He also asked for bug spray to try to combat the sand fleas.  According to him, it didn’t work.  Mostly, he wanted pictures of the family to attach to the inside of his “cover” or hat.  He said it really helped to have them there as a reminder of who he was and why he was going thru hell.  He did tell me that the cards and letters from the family were a real boost, even though he didn’t reply to most of them …. he chose sleep.

Please let us know what your recruit wanted – any good ideas for new parents?  What did your recruit ask you for specifically?

MilParents – Let’s Get down to Basic

July 15, 2008 · Filed Under Basic Training, Military Parents, Parents News, This & That · 3 Comments 

Training, that is. (Part one of five)

What to know or expect when your son or daughter goes to Basic Training – (now called Basic Combat Training)

First and foremost – be very proud of them.   The whole point of this training, is to take them from the adult they think they are – to the adult the Army/AirForce/Marines/Navy/Coast Guard wants to have. This is going to be a hard 9 weeks or more. 

Second – you won’t hear from them very often, if at all! They are not allowed to have their cell phones (this is sometimes difficult to fathom in this day and age) This is something you need to remember while your child is in the service – repeat after me: NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS.

From Some Soldier’s Mom: I have 3 sons that went to Basic (or Boot Camp)… and we received a brief phone call when each arrived at their destination (two at Great Lakes Naval Station and one at Fort Benning). We received two brief letters and a post card from the oldest (Navy) and then a few phone calls when permitted. We got two or three letters over the course of Navy Boot from the middle son and two phone calls. Army Sgt.s apparently do not want to be hearing from soldiers’ mommas and it was a requirement at Basic that they write home once a week or 10 days… although we did not start receiving letters until about his 3rd week into training. Parents have to realize that their sons and daughters are being physically and mentally stretched to the breaking point and they are so sore and tired at the end of EVERY day, that they sincerely do not have the energy to write letters home… and they do not have telephone privileges until very late into their training. My son said when he had to choose whether to take 15 minutes to write a letter or get 15 minutes extra of sleep — sleep won every time!! From LAW – I got a couple of scrawled notes – I’m tired, I’m tired, working hard, I’m tired, and 1 or 2 brief calls, hi, love you, tired He stood in line for a long time to call, but couldn’t talk for long – the line behind him was just as long! Tammy – Husband was so exhausted he managed to write postcards to the kids.. but not many calls – Sleep was the winner.

Their schedules are amazingly full.  Some of it doesn’t make much sense.  Their schedules are posted, on the website of the facility where they are training.  Links will be provided – Friday’s portion of this series.

Please – GIVE US YOUR STORIES, YOUR QUESTIONS, YOUR COMMENTS!

*****Tomorrow – what to send and what NOT to send **************