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?

What is Christmas Exodus?

Christmas Exodus (or a mass holiday break), put simply, is a break for Christmas. This break only applies to soldiers who are in some 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; 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 mention it because we had to skip one of his block leaves to make up for the days.

My Experience with Exodus at Benning

I was close enough to Ft Benning to be able to drive over and pick up my husband. Please remember that this is MY experience, and yours could vary depending on which base he is at and who his DSs are.

I was so very nervous about seeing him again. Would he have changed? Would he think I had changed? Would things still be the same? I felt like I was going on a first date. I was excited and giddy with butterflies in my stomach!

I got to Ft Benning the night before, so I could be there bright and early (as early as they would allow) to pick him up. I don’t know why I even paid for a hotel room; it’s not as if I slept a wink that night.

Picking Him Up on Sand Hill

I was told to arrive at 8 am to pick him up, but it was closer to 9 am before he arrived at my car. We were told to go to their barracks on Sand Hill to pick them up.

I was about the 15th car in line. A line that grew to an untold number as the magical hour rolled around to pick them up to go home.

The DS came up to my car, asked me for his name, and radioed in to send him out. He came walking towards me in his Class A’s, long black jacket (that I hadn’t seen him in since), a newly shaved head, and BCGs.


Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with BCGs, be thankful. Be very thankful!

These are the most hideous framed glasses I’ve ever seen in my life. And for my blind as a bat husband (at least then), the lenses were seriously Coke bottle thick.

My once handsome husband was now not so much, haha. They are referred to as Birth Control Glasses for a reason! Thank goodness for PRK and LASEK, courtesy of the Army!

And because of those glasses, I didn’t even recognize my husband until he was about five feet away from me. He had warned me there couldn’t be any PDA when I picked him up, but he did sneak in a quick hug before we 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 go home. I think he was ready for his bed.

Countdowns Never End

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.”

I didn’t even want to sleep when he was home because it felt like we were wasting time that we could be spending together…even though he was still right there. Crazy, I know!

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.

Taking Him Back to Sand Hill

It was very hard to take him back. He had to be dropped off at the reception center by 23:00. When we got there, I parked at the far end of the parking lot.

The DSs 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 DSs – I again got a look that told me he thought I was crazy.

It was very late at night, and the DSs were still there making sure all of the soldiers made their flights, so rest assured, he’ll find his way back home to you.

29 thoughts on “Army Training Exodus at Christmas”

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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. 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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

    1. 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??

    2. 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 🙂

  5. 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!

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

  7. 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?

  8. 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?

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

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