Lately, I have received quite a few emails from concerned Army wives, Army parents and Army girlfriends about the first few letters they have received from their Army soldier in basic training. They were concerned because their soldier sounded depressed and was talking about making a mistake by joining. Many times they have written me asking if there is a way out of the contract because their soldier seems so intent on not staying in basic training.
I remember being in their shoes. I remember receiving those same letters in the first few weeks of basic training. My husband wrote to me that he was sorry he was putting us through all of this and that it was a mistake. He sounded very upset with his decision to join the Army. I did the only thing I knew to do – wrote back with words of encouragement and support.
I mentioned these emails to my husband a few weeks ago and commented that it must be pretty common with soldiers in basic. His response? He had never acted that way! I had to laugh. Then I went to find the letters that he had sent to me. He didn’t even remember ever regretting his decision to join the Army. He was surprised at how he sounded in his letters.
When your soldier goes to basic training, part of the “job” of the drill sergeants is to break him down so they can build him back up again in the Army way. For many of our husbands and sons, it is the first time away from family for any significant amount of time. And its definitely the first time away from home while facing such a strict schedule, an entirely new group of people that they’re living with in a confined area and very little communication with those they know and love. It is a tough adjustment. But most make it through and come out a better person for it.
Be sure that you continue to write words of support and encouragement to your soldier. Let them know that you are proud of their decision to serve. Try to give them the motivation that they need to get through those first few weeks as they are generally the toughest. Pretty soon, you’ll notice a difference in their letters and their attitude.
It’s just another hill in the roller coaster ride of the Army!