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Fort Leonard Wood Basic Training Review

1. Your name (as you would like it to appear on the website): Rachel (rachelxy)

2. Where did your soldier attend basic training? Fort Leonard Wood for BCT

3. When did he attend basic training? January – 18 March 2010

4. How often did you hear from him? (Phone and letters) They were given their cell phones about once a week, and the rest of the time the phones were locked up. Phone calls were very short- usually less than 10 minutes. They did get “double” phone time on Valentine’s Day and we could talk for 20 minutes. Most phone calls were on Sunday afternoons, but sometimes it was another day of the week like a Tuesday evening or Friday afternoon. My soldier was one of about 6 guys in his platoon who wrote letters regularly- he wrote about a page every day and mailed them every 3-4 days. Mail is SLOW! Both the letters I wrote to him and the ones he wrote to me were received a week after we’d sent them.

5. How long was it before you heard from him the first time? He called for about 2 minutes when he arrived at Reception- basically just enough to say “I’m here and alive, sorry I have to go, love you, bye.” Then it was over a week before I heard from him again. The first Sunday he was actually in training they had their phones for about 5 minutes.

6. How long did it take to receive a mailing address for him? Over 2 weeks, because he sent it in a letter. In retrospect, I should have gotten the address from him over the phone the first time he called from training so he could have received letters from me much earlier.

7. Were there any restrictions on what you could send him? I didn’t send him packages unless he specifically asked for something, because I didn’t want to risk getting him in trouble. He said any packages had to be opened in front of the Drill Sergeants and same with any “thick” letters or cards, but they didn’t have to show regular letters. Drill Sergeants also looked at any photos they had. Definitely not allowed was any food or candy. Cough drops and vitamin C drops ARE allowed (sugar-free), and he said everyone trades them like prisoners trade cigarettes! I also sent him a new pad of writing paper and stamps after a few weeks.

8. Were you sent information about family day and graduation? Yes—technically the letter from the commander was supposed to be sent to his parents, since I’m a girlfriend not a wife/family, but my soldier had my address memorized better than his mom’s and he said they were only given a couple minutes to address and stuff the envelope to be sent out. The graduation date and a form letter arrived about 5 weeks into training. Very brief information, basically just giving the date and saying that soldiers who met graduation requirements would get an on-post or off-post pass until 9pm. The letter also had a website address for the fort for more general graduation information. I found the whole thing confusing and not very helpful.

9. Did he have a family day? If so, please describe: Family Day and Graduation were on the same day. This was originally not communicated well—my soldier told me several times in his letters that the Drill Sergeants told them Family Day would be the day before graduation, so I booked my flight to Missouri for 2 days before graduation and ended up with a whole day to waste by myself. Just before the graduation ceremony the rules for the off-post pass were explained: Soldiers could not consume alcohol, use tobacco, or drive, and they needed to stay in uniform the entire day. After the graduation ceremony I had to sign him out with his platoon’s Drill Sergeant. Again, technically I should have been his wife to be allowed to sign him out, but they didn’t question it. I just had to write my phone number and promise I’d have him back on time.

10. Please describe the graduation ceremony. His graduation was indoors in an auditorium. The ceremony was at 9:00am, but already when I arrived at the main gate of the post at 7:30am there was a line and when I got inside the auditorium seats were already filling up. They started with a briefing about the rules for the Family Day pass after graduation, and directions on how to get to gym where the reception would be. Then they showed a slideshow that included a bunch of Army and patriotic photos. Then the four platoons of soldiers marched in and took their seats (the whole right side of the auditorium was reserved). Then there was a slideshow of pictures from my soldier’s actual training. Then each platoon marched up on stage and yelled out names and hometowns. A couple awards were given out and Drill Sergeants were recognized. The whole thing took only less than an hour and a half, because there was another unit’s graduation that same day at noon so everyone needed to move to the gym for the reception.

11. Is there a website for his basic training unit? Is there a place to see pictures of his training online? Yes- it took a bit of clicking around on the FLW website to find it on my own. Then the website address was given in the form letter I got with graduation information. The photos are not of the current group (which I figured out because the grass was too green to be Jan/Feb!), but it gives you an idea of what they’re doing.

12. Any other tips or information?
– Start writing letters right away! Mail is the only thing they have to connect them to the outside world. If he’s a sports guy, include stats printed from his favorite websites, if he’s into politics include major news stories.

– Don’t worry about writing boring letters—he loves to hear about your stupid co-workers or what you cooked for dinner because it helps him feel involved in your life while he’s gone.

– Keep your cell phone on you at all times, because you never know when the Drill Sergeants might decide to unlock their phones and the time is so limited.

– Drill Sergeants love to use mail as a reason to smoke the soldiers with extra PT. Don’t feel guilty about that—any extra push-ups he has to do to receive your letters are well worth it, and really, they do the PT anyway, so if it’s not from this then the DS’s will find something else wrong anyway.

– Learn the acronyms as best you can. Your soldier gets so used to using them that he sometimes forgets to actually explain what they mean. I used websites like this one to learn as much as I could about the army so I could feel like I was involved in what he was learning and doing on days I really missed him.

About the author: This article was contributed by a visitor to the site. If you would like to contribute to the site as well, please email me.

{ 99 comments… add one }

  • Quandalyn Waldon September 20, 2012, 8:59 pm

    My boyfriend just left September 17, 2012 and I have no clue what his unit is in Ft. Leonard Wood. I am trying to figure this out early so I can plan to see him when he graduates. I know he just left but I can’t wait until when he write me a letter or call me to find out. Does anybody know what his unit would be?

  • Justine January 14, 2013, 8:29 pm

    My boyfriend left for basic training on January 9th, 2012 to Fort Leonard Wood, MO. I just got his letter today but there’s no address provided so I could write him back. Is there any way I could find out the address myself?

  • Lia February 22, 2013, 4:12 am

    my boyfriend is there now at Ft Leonard Wood, MO. he arrived monday February 5th. He called me a week later on Sunday and I missed it by 4minutes…then he called me Wednesday the 13th and I missed it by 1 damn minute. I think the number isn’t going through to my phone cause I never catch it ringing. But he left me a voicemail and said he’ll have time to call me on Sundays and if he doesn’t call, for me not to worry. This past Sunday he didn’t call. I’m hoping he will the next…. It’s been almost 3 weeks that I haven’t talked to him. The worst part – I can’t even mail him because his mom still didn’t get any information about the mailing address. It’s frustrating to say the least!

  • Keisha Frost May 15, 2013, 12:21 am

    My son left for Ft. Leonard Wood, MO on March 17th,2013 and I received several letters from him since and loved every minute of it, but for the past 3 weeks after receiving his last letter dated April 22nd, 2013, I have not heard anything from my son and I know his is alright just missing him, and want him to write me back, ASAP, I am blessed that he is doing something really, really great with his life just want him to contact his mom, like yesterday. I have been writing him at least once a week, just waiting for a reply but nothing so far, and I am getting a little worried, but I know his is good, just write mom back, JR. One Love…

  • CJ July 24, 2013, 11:51 pm

    My son is getting ready to leave for FLW August 6, 2013. Anyone else on here in that time frame?

    • ron rosensteel July 29, 2013, 6:35 pm

      my son left on july 23. only heard from him twice. 2 short phone calls.he went in to train as a MP

      • IA Mom August 20, 2013, 2:08 pm

        To Ron….If he went in for MP training he will have a combined Basic Training and AIT (I believe it is called OSUT ). Most likely you will hear from him once a week after he gets out of reception (which he is by now I’m sure). Don’t be afraid to send mail or pkgs…no food! We send the “funny page” from the newspaper and other clippings (Readers Digest is a good source)..like one other person commented..they are gonna do push-ups when they get mail and when they don’t. I know after several weeks my soldier wanted: Good laundry detergent (tide pods ship well), dryer sheets (more to freshen the bunk area than for the clothes), throat drops (they have to yell a lot), athlete’s foot cream (no aerosols at all for anything), Icy Hot (roll- on ships well), go0d shampoo/conditioner and STRONG hair gel (female soldier)…just some ideas. My soldier wrote several times that Basic/AIT is “not awesome, but not horrible either” that made me feel better knowing that.

        • ron rosensteel August 29, 2013, 3:46 pm

          thanks for the information. it was very helpful.got to see some pictures of him from the web site that is listed on this page.
          He said that they just started the white phase. and that time was flying by fast.

    • Mary August 24, 2013, 5:38 pm

      Yes, my son left on August 18, 2013. We received the form postcard, nothing more.

  • Sammie September 14, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Reading your post has really help me. I wasn’t sure if something was wrong or not since I hadn’t received my sons address or what his unit is. When my son first arrived there he was allowed to call me which was about a 1 min call. I then got another call about 4 days later in which he said he was fine but hadn’t been assigned to a unit. I then received a call on Tuesday 09/10/13 at 8:46pm in which he said mom I’m fine I just got assigned to my unit and will be mailing my contact information. When I asked him to tell me his unit name he said Mom I’ve got to go and heard him say Yes, Sir Srgt as he was ending the call. His phone rung back and I answered but there was no one there. So I haven’t talk to him 4 days. I just wanted to make sure he was ok and be able to write him. I really miss him a lot. His my first born!!! But your posts really did help!! It let me know that I’m not the only one waiting to hear from their child and he gave me a since of a time frame in which I can expect to hear from my son. Until then I will keep him and yours in my prayers as well..

  • Nelly Rivero November 8, 2013, 8:27 am

    My boyfriend left on october 28, 2013. Ive gotten a lot of letters from him already and a call wednesday saying that he got to BCT. I dont have a return address yet. When would i get it?

    • Stacey Abler November 9, 2013, 11:33 am

      He typically doesn’t have an address to give until he starts BCT. It was at least a week after he started BCT before I received an address.

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