1. Your name (as you would like it to appear on the website):
2. Where did your soldier attend basic training?
Ft. Jackson, SC
3. When did he attend basic training?
November 3, 2009 – February 5, 2010
4. How often did you hear from him? (Phone and letters)
During reception, I was very fortunate to have heard from him as frequently as I did. I heard from him nearly every day for about an hour each day.
Once reception was over, I received one call about 3 days into official BCT to provide me with his address. After that I heard from him via phone about once a week, usually on Saturday evenings. At first it was only for 5 minutes, but towards the end it was for 15.
As far as letters, this depends largely on your soldier. My husband wrote me every day, but I had girls in the same platoon that rarely received letters.
5. How long was it before you heard from him the first time?
My husband left November 3rd, and I heard from him on the 4th.
6. How long did it take to receive a mailing address for him?
About a week. When he called to give me his address, he was breathing so hard from just being smoked that I couldn’t understand a word he said, ha. Luckily I called the number listed on the Ft. Jackson website and with his SS#, received his address.
7. Were there any restrictions on what you could send him?
He was able to send unlimited pictures and letters. In fact, with every letter I included a picture. He hung them all up in his locker and loved looking at them in his free time (his very limited free time). As far as packages, I didn’t really bother with that. It differs for each platoon what they are aloud to have, but I stuck with letters and pictures.
8. Were you sent information about family day and graduation?
Yes, I received a “Welcome to the Army” pamphlet along with a letter from the commander detailing family day/graduation around week 6.
9. Did he have a family day? If so, please describe.
Yes, he did and it was actually a lot of fun! I met a lot of girls on-line through Facebook that were wives of my husband’s platoon mates and it was fun to be able to meet them! You are not allowed to leave post, but there is so much to do on post, it is not a big deal. At 10am, they had a short ceremony at Hilton field and then we were able to find our soldier! We first went and got some food at Burger King. It was packed, as per usual, but it was still fun. Then we all went bowling and had a blast. After that we went to the NCO dinner, which was held at the Officer’s club. The food was decent, I would recommend going. After that we went to the PX and just hung out. The great thing about Ft. Jackson is it is typically for soldiers in BCT and AIT, so everyone that was there graduation weekend, was generally visiting a graduating soldier. The whole day we were running into his buddies as well as my friends I had been talking to on-line.
10. Please describe the graduation ceremony.
Due to rainy weather, it was held inside at the Soloman Center. Since it was only big enough for 2 company’s at a time, they had to break it up. A co and B co were at 10am, C co and D co were at 11am and E co and F co were at 12pm. The ceremony itself lasted about 15 minutes. They handed out awards. Four for each company (highest PT score, highest marksmanship score, and two soldier of the cycle). Then they recited the soldier’s creed, sang the Army song, and that was it! We then had to find our soldiers, sign them out, and we immediately left for Ft. Benning!
11. Is there a website for his basic training unit? Is there a place to see pictures of his training online?
Yes. I would highly recommend you get on Facebook and do several searches for “Ft. Jackson, his battalion, etc.” My husband was fortunate enough to be in 3-13. Their Battalion Commander was incredible. His wife led a Facebook page called, “3-13 BCT”. Here is the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/3-13-BCT/185234698977?ref=ts It was an amazing support group for me. Any question I had, I would always find the answer, either from another girl, or from the Commander’s wife herself.
Also, the Battalion Commander led a twitter page, http://twitter.com/313Infantry. He frequently made updates on what each company was doing and I constantly knew what was going on.
Also, their Chaplain took pictures of all the company’s and posted them on-line for us! http://www.chaplainmorrison.com/ I have at least 20 pictures of my husband from while he was in BCT.
12. Any other tips or information?
For family day/graduation, I would dress for the weather, but dress comfortable. Our graduation was in February, and we all wore jeans, a cute shirt, and boots. Also, on Friday, don’t forget to wear a red shirt! http://www.redshirtfridays.org/.
In my opinion, BCT is for the wives too! I have become so much stronger after BCT and have become more prepared for when he is deployed. The best advice I can give is learn to be flexible, never expect anything, and always remain positive! Never blame your soldier for not writing or calling, they are going through so much and each soldier handles the stress differently.
Also, realize that you are constantly from this moment on representing your soldier. Do not post things on-line that would get your soldier in trouble or make this time harder for them. There was a girl in my husband’s battalion that posted something negative that her husband had said in a letter than went against the Army core values that got him dishonorably discharged from the Army! So keep in mind that the cadre do have Facebook, too.
If you are permitted, I would also recommend that you drive your soldier to their next training. My husband went to OCS and I didn’t have to turn him in until the next day at midnight! Check his/her orders and see when they need to report. Good luck and stay busy!