If you have come across this post, it was most likely not by accident. If you are anything like me, you googled, “What is going to happen in Basic Training for my AB (Airman Basic)?!” or if you’re identical to me, “What am I going to do during Basic Training?!”
So your loved one has decided to join the military and now is time for them to leave for basic training. The time before they leave for basic training will be full of emotion for the both of you, but keep in mind that they are the ones going through it and you are their supporter. They are full of emotions both good and bad, so let them know how much you care for them and that they can do it. Until they leave, try and spend as much time with them, and encourage them to spend more time with their families and loved ones. Try and do things with them to prepare as team. My AB and I went shopping together for his “packing list”, and it was so cool to share that with him. It felt like we, as a unit, were getting ready for the change and embracing it (don’t worry I made sure he didn’t get name brand everything, gotta watch those funds yaknow?) Try to lift your future Airman to peaceful and calm spirits about their choice when they feel down; our happy place was with our church family, and praying for peace, joy, and patience.
The process of leaving and basic training are straight forward. They have their ceremony, say their goodbyes, get processed, *boom* they are on their way to basic training. What isn’t so straight forward is what is going to happen while they are there as far as communicating with you. Can we write them? Can they write back? When are their phone calls? Do they get Instagram breaks? What do you mean they don’t get Instagram breaks?
I have searched high and low on military wives blogs. I’ve found stories of rainbows and daisies, and I’ve found stories of completely crazy experiences (like that I can’t repeat because they were so scary for Airmen). Here I am going to share my personal experiences with my AB as we go through them! So they are fresh and raw for you to get a brief idea on what it is like for a supporter during Basic Training. Some of my experiences are far different from others I have heard or read, and in some cases, spot on/ the same. Keep in mind that anything can differ for you and your Airman. There are many factors that can differ, but we all have one thing in common, we love our AB’s.
Basic Training is currently 8 1/2 weeks long (I say currently because it used to be 6, but whatever Mr. Changed It To Be Longer.) Right now my AB has been in Basic Training for 24 days (end of week WOT3). In BMT there are 0-8 weeks. For a breakdown of what your AB will be learning, here is a list of the WOT’s http://afwm.org/category/wot/
Our first call was the morning after his flight arrived at Lackland AFB (much sooner than expected). The AB’s only have three minutes to call, provide an address, and hang up. The recruiter recommended that we “ignore” the call, so the address can be repeated. Some answer their phones, and are not ready to write down the address. If this happens, you can still get your AB’s address by calling the Air Force Basic Training Reception center at (210) 671-3024. I listened to my AB’s voice-mail about twenty times, and still had the address wrong, but my first few letters still were received. They also mail out their address, along with graduation information (I was devastated when I thought this envelope was a letter, so be prepared!)
When writing letters, keep in mind that your Airman is in a new environment, and even those good at adapting to change will not consider BMT Disneyland. Keep letters upbeat and positive. Motivate. Let them know they are missed so much, but don’t say things like, “I wish you didn’t leave, two months is too long” or “If it is too difficult, you can always come back home.” Be their cheerleader, and let them know failure is not an option (in a good way)! Like “I miss you, but what you are doing is amazing. ” or “I know it is difficult, but think of how rewarding it will be to be a US Airman!” My AB loves to know that I am praying for his flight, and when I send verses on strength, courage, brotherhood, and love.
A trend you will notice on all blogs or sites is: “write them EVERYDAY.” At first I was writing every few days. My life is not exciting enough to write a letter everyday! But the first and last thing my AB wrote on his first letter is “please write everyday, even twice a day!” Mail Call will be the highlight of their day. When they hear their name, they feel loved. This is their time to connect with you! They may not write back often, but they want to know what is going on in your life, in their families life, and even their pets. My AB was allowed small pictures, so I send pictures of our niece and nephew, our siblings, his pets, house projects, new things I buy or are gifted, etc. It makes him feel “in the lop.loop.” I go as far as to make sure he sees every post on social networking before I post it (too crazy?)!
Things not to send:
- Pictures before given permission. Never n00dz, ya nasty!
- Care packages! This is MTI ammo to break down your AB! Some Training Instructors have thrown awaythe package in front of their Trainee, or even eat their treats! Even if your AB says it is okay… just don’t.
- Girly smelling envelopes/ Glitter/ Colored envelopes/ etc. The simpler, the better. Keep it to paint white envelope, all cap letters, and do not dot your “i”s with hearts!
Your first call will be when your AB’s flight gets “Patio Time.” During this time, they can hang out, get snacks at vending machines, and use the payphones. My first (and only, so far) call was at the end of WOT2 on his 17th day of being at Lackland AFB. It was a short and sweet 7 minute call, and for me, it was an emotional one. Something I wish I did prior was: make a note on my phone of all the little things to ask him. Since that call, I have pages of notes ready, full of questions!
I hope this posts helps some of you who are about to be a supporter, or are currently! I look forward to making future posts regarding Weeks 4-8 and GRADUATION WEEKEND! If you have any questions or additional advice on Weeks 0-3, leave a comment below, and I will do my best to share my experience with you 🙂
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10
Part II: http://wp.me/p4tpCw-25
3 thoughts on “The Supporter’s Guide to Surviving Basic Training”
I thought i was at week 3 than was told by his training fb group the first week dont count. This has been terrible and even have left me with some resentment towards the military. I had no idea it would be like this. It seems to get harder every day. I just want him home.
I totally understand your frustration! Basic is uniquely difficult as a supporter of someone going through it, but will be so worth it when then accomplish amazing things through their branch of service. It takes a strong person to make that decision to join, because that frustration is just the beginning. It’s possible they can leave on a deployment with a days notice and/ or have their time away extended (no matter if there’s a baby on the way or holiday season.) It’s deep and meaningful friendships that keep those negative feelings away, and faith that one day there won’t be a countdown until when you see them next!