1. Your Name (as you would like it to appear)
2. Where did your soldier attend basic training?
Ft. Leonard Wood
3. When did your soldier attend basic training (please include the year)?
4. How often did you hear from him (phone and letters)?
At Ft. Leonard, they ensure soldiers who are passing all their requirements about 20 minutes of phone time at the end of every 3-week Phase (red, white, blue) on a Sunday. I got the calls late afternoon/evening.
I got the phone calls once in three weeks as expected, but then, since his DS let them have their phones back, I got a couple more calls on Sundays after the blue and white phase. I was not expecting them, but it was really nice!
Letter access is pretty much unlimited. They do not get letters withheld from them and I never heard of them doing pushups for letters. My soldier tried to get a letter out every other day but was writing to me consistently. I wrote to him every day.
5. How long was it before you heard from him the first time?
I got about a 5-second phone call from him to let me know he had gotten to the base safely. The call went “I got here safe, I’m alright, I have to go, goodbye.” and ended.
Then I, unexpectedly got about a 10-minute phone call from him about 3-4 days later, letting me know he had been processed and was sending me his contact info.
6. How long did it take to receive a mailing address from him?
About a week or two after he left. Sent in the mail.
7. Were there any restrictions on what you could send him?
Yes, they explain it pretty clearly. No food or any kind, alcohol, candy, prescribed drugs, books, magazines, pornography, or suggestive material AT ALL. You get the idea.
I COULD send him as many letters as I wanted, newspaper clippings, non-sexy photos, drawings, and a tiny heart-shaped rock once.
You can send packages of necessities (like extra toiletries, socks, etc.) if your soldier asks for them, but I left that to his parents since he asked them. Any packages you send will have to be opened by your soldier in front of a DS.
8. When did you receive information about family day and graduation?
Same as when I got the mailing address. Pretty clear. There were also events on the Facebook page with details.
9. Did he have a family day? If so, please describe.
Yes, on 5/1/2013, the day before his graduation. A Wednesday. I didn’t go, but his parents did. I had a senior year of high school to take care of!
But they’re allowed to be signed out and go out with their family and go somewhere to eat. It’s supposed to be really nice and they have to be back around 7 pm.
10. Please describe the graduation ceremony.
On 5/2/2013, a Thursday. No idea how to ceremony went, but it’s supposed to be really nice for the families with a slide show of pictures of their training. They can be signed out after the ceremony and have to be back by 7 pm, usually.
11. Is there a website for his unit? Did you find a place online that has pictures from his basic training?
Yes! There’s a great Facebook group with announcements and lots of info. It’s updated quite often and pictures of what each company had been up to during the week were posted every weekend.
Lt. Anderson managed to page and did a great job! Really wonderful!
12. Any other tips or information?
I went through this with my soldier when I was 17 years old and a senior in high school. I had known my soldier for about 5 or 6 months and we had been going out for a little over 2 months when he left for Basic.
It wasn’t the most advisable decision for someone my age or in my situation, but I did it. The first month was purely awful. I was crying every night and mopping around during the day. But I figured it out, how to deal.
I just kept moving, kept doing, kept pushing through my senior year and college apps, and all the things I needed to do. Staying busy was the way I made it through. Writing to him was like therapy: it helped me work out things inside myself.
Now, I am at peace with this situation. I remembered how I lived my life and what made me happy before my soldier was in it. I remembered how to love and care for myself. I realized that he was fine out there, he was doing his thing, and I was doing mine.
Anyways, to make things simple:
1) Aim to write to your soldier every single day. Letters are pure gold out there. And send photos!
2) Keep moving. Keep moving, keep breathing, keep doing.
3) It feels so hard some days and you don’t think you can go on. It can hurt an awful lot, but you’re going to be okay. You’re going to make it through. Keep pushing. Remember that. You are going to be just fine.