≡ Menu

Army Training Exodus at Christmas

If you’re reading this, I’m sure it is with two important questions in mind:

1- What is it?
2- Will he get it?

Christmas Exodus put simply is a break for Christmas. This break only applies to soldiers who are in some sort of training program, not when they have been assigned to their unit. It is generally about one week before Christmas and continues until a few days after New Year’s Eve. The days for your soldier may vary depending on how the holidays fall.

If you are close enough to where he is training, you can go and pick him up in person. If not, the Army will help to arrange for his transportation home. Be aware that this time off will count against his leave time and if he’s in basic training, he will go in the hole. If you’re like most, you couldn’t care less as long as it means you’ll get to see him. I just mention it because we had to skip one of his block leaves to make up for the days.

I was close enough to Ft Benning to be able to drive over and pick up my husband. Please keep in mind that this is MY experience and yours could vary depending on which base he is at and who his DS’s are. I was told to arrive at 8am to pick him up but it was closer to 9am before he arrived at my car. We were told to go to their barracks on Sand Hill to pick them up. There was a long line of cars filled with anxious Army wives and families that only grew longer as the minutes went by. When the DS’s finally came out, they went to each car and asked who your soldier was. They then radioed for him to be sent out. They will come out in uniform and this is most likely the first time you’ve see him in it. For me, I didn’t even recognize my husband until he was about five feet from my car. Guess that’s what happens when you see lots of soldiers in the same uniform with bald heads.

They are warned against any PDAs and since they’re still in training, they’ll probably stick to it. I got a little hug before he got in the car. But I didn’t get my kiss until he couldn’t see the barracks anymore. I asked him if he wanted to do anything in Columbus before we left and he looked at me like I was crazy and said no, let’s just go home. I think he was ready for his bed.

Those two weeks were great for us! Although it was very hard not to be on a countdown – I was constantly thinking “only xx days until he goes back.” Of course, I’ve been on a constant countdown in one form or another since he joined the Army (until he deploys again, until he comes home, etc.) so I guess looking back, it was a little prep for the future.

It was very hard to take him back. He had to be dropped off at the reception center by 23:00 if I remember correctly. When we got there, I parked at the far end of the parking lot. The DS’s were outside with all of the guys lined up who were already back and they were barking orders. Right back to training mode.

A few years after my husband had his Christmas Exodus, we happened to be returning from a vacation through the Atlanta airport on the day that exodus started. There were soldiers and Drill Sergeants everywhere you looked. I kept telling my husband he should go chat up the DS’s – I again got a look that told me he thought I was crazy. J It was very late at night and the DS’s were still there making sure all of the soldiers made their flights so, rest assured, he’ll find his way back home to you.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Christina November 22, 2010, 6:07 pm

    How much notice will I get before my husband comes home for Exodus? My husband started OSUT recently, and I want to know when he’ll be home so I can plan! 🙂
    Thanks so much!

    • Stacey November 22, 2010, 9:58 pm

      He should know very soon. Benning has already posted their schedule stating Exodus starts on the 17th – it should be similar for other training posts though there’s no guarantee.

  • Melissa May 27, 2011, 3:11 pm

    My husband will be starting basic in October. Is it possible to take a day or two off instead of the entire two weeks?

    • Christina July 17, 2011, 9:05 pm

      When my husband was in training, they told him it was only possible to take all of their two weeks of leave, or none at all.
      Just fyi…although technically they are supposed to have the option of staying in the barracks, but his superiors “discouraged” it by telling them if they stayed they would make their lives miserable. The officers don’t want to have to stay in the barracks because a recruit doesn’t feel like going home. This might be different from unit to unit, but I just thought I’d tell you. 🙂

  • Lori December 5, 2011, 4:59 pm

    I got married to my husband before he left for BCT/AIT. He has called me to tell me he will not be able to leave his home of record for exodus which is in Maryland. I live in Virginia, I know they are not supposed to drive but I think that if I drive he should be able to stay at his new address. Already as a military wife I’m frustrated!

  • Hannah December 6, 2011, 2:48 am

    My fiance is at Ft. Leonard Wood in basic training and we are planning on getting married during his break. I am trying to figure out if I need to worry about getting him a plane ticket home or if (even though he has to pay for it) his DS’s will let him know how to do it. Desperate for info!!! Thanks

    • Lori December 6, 2011, 9:29 pm

      My husband called last Tuesday to tell me he is buying his plane ticket home. They apparently went to the travel office to get their tickets and he said they also get a discount. He was able to call to coordinate when to pick him up at the airport. Also, if you look on Facebook, the company, BN, and platoon he is in gives info about stuff like that. Their break starts dec. 21 so you should have heard something by now or maybe he has coordinated with his parents??

      • Hannah December 8, 2011, 4:48 am

        I have talked with his parents and they haven’t heard anything from him. I spoke with him once but I hadn’t realized the fact about the plane ticket yet so I wasn’t able to inform him. I did send him a letter with the information I had found out so I am praying it gets to him in time. I am assuming he will get it taken care of on his end eventually. Thank you for the information 🙂

  • Lori December 8, 2011, 6:01 am

    Hannah, I’m very sorry. Sometimes I wish we could just zap ourselves over there to talk to them. It’s hard not knowing. All you can do is keep your chin up and be patient. He knows how to find you and will hopefully find you soon. If you want I can update you if I get info, but as for me, it’s been 10 days since I have heard from him. Be positive and hang in there!

  • Hannah December 8, 2011, 1:21 pm

    Thank you for you words of encouragement 🙂 I am confident it will all get worked out one way or another.

  • Tyler Becker July 30, 2012, 2:07 am

    My fiance just started BCT at Benning. He’s almost through Red phase… will I know when he gets Exodus?

  • Thuy September 10, 2012, 4:57 pm

    My Boyfriend Basic Training at Fort Benning is till Nov, 21st. Does he get to go home for Thanksgiving before AIT? Or do he have to wait till December 15th?

  • Michelle October 19, 2012, 4:05 pm

    My boyfriend leaves on Nov. 6 for Basic. He had a meeting with his recruiter early this week where the recruiter told him he recommends staying over Christmas because then he could get longer leave after Basic. Is this true? I read above that the sergeants can be mean to soldiers who chose to stay.. is this true?

    • Eliana Rivera November 11, 2012, 8:20 am

      My husband also left November 6 to Ft. Leonardwood for BCT, and his recruiter made sure he took his phone, charger, envelopes and stamps with him. He also allowed me to accompany him in the ride to the hotel and to stay until it was time to report to their rooms the day before leaving. He told my husband that the Christmas vacation will be starting anywhere from the 18 to the 20th and that he should come home so that we can break the time away from each other to a month and 1/2 each time. Meaning, he will come for xmas after 1&1/2 months and then I will meet him there for graduation after just about the same time, and finally he will go to AIT for 6 weeks. The recruiter working with my husband was great, he involved and was concern about family and gave us all his information in case we needed any help during and after training. I hope this helps!

    • Danielle November 26, 2012, 10:03 pm

      Yes it’s true that he can save his leave and use it at a later time. And yes it is also true that they can be mean to the soldiers that stay. My husband is coming home on December 19th from Fort Benning. His recruiter recommended him coming home. I guess different people have different opinions on things. I honestly couldn’t tell you which way would be better.

  • vanessa diaz November 5, 2012, 11:59 am

    Do they come home in uniform or plain clothes?

  • Nikki November 5, 2012, 9:45 pm

    My boyfriend leaves Nov. 7 for Basic. I’d love to know the answer to your question Michelle: is it better for him to stay there for Christmas break. He has to be at his AIT post the day after graduation so does it even matter?

  • Chance February 1, 2013, 9:19 pm

    My Fiance Leaves April 2nd For Basic And Right After He Graduates There He Is In AIT Until October 25th.. Im Not Ready To Be Apart That Long. Its Hard Not To Count Down When He Leaves. We Are Supposed To Get Married Before He Leaves For Basic But Im Scared Im Going To Miss Him So Much And That When He Comes Home We Will Be Different. 🙁 Oh Boy. Im So Nervous. I Love This Man.

  • Anali November 8, 2014, 2:02 am

    Hello my husband just left for basic training to Fort Benning GA, on Nov 04,2014.
    I know it’s still early to know but my question is if he’s getting the chance to come home for Christmas. Am pregnant and am do on the 30th of December so i really pray for him to see our daughter being born. Besides waiting for the packet and he’s letters is there any other way i can find out if he’ll be able to make it?

    • Stacey Abler November 8, 2014, 11:28 am

      During training, they are given roughly two weeks off during Christmas. It’s generally the week before and after Christmas. Hope all continues to go well with your pregnancy!

    • Claudia November 27, 2014, 10:20 am

      They usually have a Facebook page with a lot of information for the family. My husband just graduated and we are here spending thanksgiving on base because he ships out to AIT tomorrow. Best of luck to your family.

  • loretta November 9, 2014, 7:21 pm

    How did you all get this information already? My husband left on the 27th and I haven’t heard from him since he finished reception and arrived at basic at ft jackson. No letter or anything, I’m super worried that all these other resources people have heard from their soldier. Any recommendations???

  • Jacqueline November 25, 2014, 1:50 am

    My fiancé started basic on November 17 2014 and I am trying to find out when the Christmas excudus is?

    • Stacey Abler December 7, 2014, 8:45 pm

      It’s typically about a week before Christmas through a week after but the dates change every year. He is your best source for dates.

  • Zoee December 9, 2014, 3:03 am

    Thank you for all the help! I am extremely new to military life and this page has helped out. My boyfriend got shipped out November 4th for basic training and he will be able to come home to our beautiful daughter and I for HBL from December 18th to January 2nd.

  • DeeAnna G July 9, 2015, 8:30 pm

    I will be arriving to AIT about one month after my Fiance. We were planning on having a courthouse wedding during exodus, is this allowed? Im hearing a million different things

    • Stacey Abler July 19, 2015, 9:05 pm

      Exodus is essentially a 2 week break where you’re basically on your own. So as long as you can plan it during that time and get the license, etc, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Leah November 1, 2015, 10:39 am

    After Christmas Break do you take him back to the recruitment center to ship him to AIT?
    Or do I need to buy him a ticket and take him to the airport myself?

  • Emily December 8, 2015, 3:53 pm

    Do you know if a girlfriend can pick up their solider?

Leave a Comment