when will you hear from your soldier at osut? woman on cell phone

Family Experience For U.S. Army OSUT at Ft Moore (Benning)

Morgan contributed this article and it reflects her experience with her soldier in OSUT in 2023. Thank you for sharing your experience!

COMMUNICATION in OSUT

How often did you hear from your soldier via phone and letters?

I got the scripted call the Friday morning before he shipped from reception to basic. It was about a minute and a half long.

Starting the following Sunday, we could speak on the phone; he usually got about an hour of phone time, sometimes more and sometimes less. We got a random phone call a few times if they won a training competition.

I was also pregnant with our third baby when he left. She was born on June 1st. Instead of taking emergency leave and possibly recycling, he got additional phone privileges for a couple of days to make sure my daughter and I were okay and got home from the hospital. She was born Thursday morning, and we could FaceTime with him Thursday through Sunday night.

We received letters from him anywhere from once to twice a week, depending on how often he could use his evening downtime for writing letters. My letters to him did take longer to get to him than his letters took to get to me (2 weeks versus 4-5 days).

Only one of his drill sergeants required pushups to get mail. The mail cutoff was about 3 weeks before graduation.

They received their phones back halfway through the AIT portion of OSUT. We would receive phone calls and texts in the evenings more frequently. He said that this varies from company to company. And their privilege could be revoked at any time.

How long was it before you heard from your soldier for the first time?

My husband shipped to Fort Jackson due to a MEPS clerical error. I heard from him about an hour before he reached the base. Then, I didn’t hear from him until Thursday. He called to let me know he would be heading to Fort Benning/Moore within a week.

He contacted me again on Sunday and Wednesday while on the bus to Fort Moore. Reception at Fort Moore lasted for a week and a half, and I got 2 phone calls. I didn’t hear from him for over a week after he arrived at his company (infantry ships on Fridays).

How long did it take to receive a mailing address?

The company commander’s letter was mailed when they shipped to Basic. We received it about 5 days later.

What You Can & Can’t Send To OSUT

Were there any restrictions on what you could send?

    No electronics, lighters, weapons, medicine/vitamins (prescribed or otherwise), alcohol, pornographic/suggestive material, tobacco/vape products, magazines/books (other than religious material), or food/energy drinks.

    We could send things if our soldier requested it. I mailed him a lacrosse ball for him to use to massage knots out and was able to send him a new watch through Amazon.

    He requested protein bars during AIT. I sent him those with no issues.

    Family Day & Graduation

    When did you receive information about Family Day and Graduation?

    We received the information in the company commander’s letter at the beginning of basic.

    His company had a Facebook page and a family support group page. It was updated with information before the events.

    My husband called the night before to confirm times/locations with us.

    What was Family Day like?

    At the end of BCT, there was the Turning Green Ceremony. They had to meet certain requirements to earn Family Day overnight passes. But everyone received some type of Family Day pass.

    Family Day ran Friday, June 30th, through Tuesday, July 4th. They reported to the CTA at 8 am and were released if they received an overnight pass.

    If they only had a day pass, they had to return at 8 pm and were released after the 8 am report time. On July 4th, everyone had to report back at 6 pm.

    Soldiers had to stay in ACUs with berets while out and could not visit bars, adult stores, or tattoo parlors. They could not drink alcohol or use tobacco products. They also could not operate a motor vehicle while on Family Day leave.

    We had a slightly different experience. Because my husband hadn’t taken leave when our daughter was born, he could take emergency leave over Family Day weekend. We drove home (about 4 hours) and spent the weekend with our kids, and we had to have him back at the CTA on July 4th at 6 pm.

    For the Turning Blue/OSUT Graduation, we had a family day after the Turning Blue ceremony and had to bring him back by 8 pm. After the graduation ceremony the next morning, we could see him for about 15 minutes before they had a brief and returned to the company area.

    We could pick him up and spend the weekend with him (overnight passes) until Sunday night. He had to be back at 8 pm.

    What should I expect at OSUT Graduation at Ft Moore?

    Turning Green:

    This is not a true graduation, but it signifies the trainee has become a full member of the US Army. There was a short introduction from one of the commanding officers and a prayer from the chaplain.

    After the national anthem and an explanation of Turning Green, we placed the Army patch on our soldiers. After about 5 minutes of seeing our soldiers, they recited the Soldier’s Creed, sang the Army song, and released for the weekend.

    Turning Blue:

    It was similar to Turning Green, except we pinned on their infantry cord.

    Graduation:

    OSUT Graduation took place at the National Infantry Museum. They had one of the Army bands play for us, and then a demonstration unit showed off the different armor and weapons the soldiers had learned to use during training. The soldiers graduated and then did a processional off the field.

    Official Communication Channels

    Is there a website for his unit? Could you see pictures from basic training and AIT (or OSUT) online?

    There are Facebook pages for the brigade, battalion, and company. The company page had the most information and occasional photos from training. They also had an Instagram page that they posted to, though very infrequently.

    Basictrainingphotos.com updated pictures from different training exercises, and the albums had about 60-200 photos to go through. It was free to download images when my husband first got to training.

    But about halfway through, they updated the website. You had to pay to view images (and get 10 free downloads) and to purchase images if you wanted them printed.

    Soldier-photos.com also had their graduation photos for viewing and purchase. A nonprofit organization, Zachary’s Heart, also runs a Fort Moore Facebook group and coordinates company-specific family groups. The moderator posts daily with fun facts, topics of
    interest related to training, and encouragement. Both groups were great for connecting with other spouses, parents, grandparents, etc., about our soldiers.

    Additional Tips & Information

    My husband and I had been married a little over 3 years when he left for OSUT, and I was pregnant with our third baby. My number one recommendation is to have a community and rely on them.

    Whether this is the small group at your church, a moms’ group, your couple friends, or family that lives nearby, INCLUDE THEM in what’s happening. Tell people when you need help, or you are upset. Share the good days, too!

    The first several days to 2 weeks are the hardest as you adjust to a new normal. The busier you are, the easier it is not to feel sad or lonely, but you need to recognize and acknowledge when you have those feelings.

    Write the letters! You can write as many letters as you want or need, and it’s a much better way to keep your soldier updated on life back at home than a once-a-week phone call. Try not to put too much negativity into it, and include encouragement for your soldier.

    The days and nights are just as sad and lonely for them as they are for you! Jokes, funny stories, Bible verses, they’ll appreciate it all!

    I did a “count up” of days we survived during BCT. If I could make it through 3 days, I could make it one more. If I could make it through 8 weeks, I could make it through 9.

    By the time Turning Green happened, 81 days had gone by. AIT was 85 days, and I started a countdown. On especially difficult days (of which there were many with 3 kids under the age of 3 and 2 dogs), I journaled things I was grateful for and good things that happened that day.

    author avatar
    Stacey Abler
    Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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