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.