What can you do now?
The most important thing you can do is start writing letters. Lots and lots of letters. It's going to take awhile for your soldier to get the letters you write, so you'll want to have them ready to send the second you get that address. We'll talk about that a bit more in depth though a bit later on.
The things I wanted to know the most when my little girl went off to basic training were:
How do I get my soldiers address at Ft Leonard Wood?When can I visit her?
What happens at Basic Training?
When can I talk to my solider at Fort Leonardwood?
The first time you talk to your Ft. Leonard Wood soldier at FLW 'officially' is during reception. They'll be given a card to read from, it will say something like "Hello fighting family, I'm calling to let you know that I have arrived and I am safe. I will be writing you soon to give you the address where you can write to me.
My daughter took her phone with her to basic (and I recommend that your soldier does the same!). So I actually talked to her at the airport before she left. I spoke with her again during a layover, and then yet again as she rode the bus to base. I didn't gain new information, but that connection meant so so much. After all, my baby was leaving. The oldest of five. My best friend really.
While they're in reception, even they don't know their address on the base, they haven't been assigned to their unit yet. They'll be in reception for anywhere from a day to 10 days.
This is where they get their uniforms, gear and physicals. Shots are administered, dental work if needed.
The Scripted call Home
Once you've gotten that first call home, the one we call the scripted call, you can concentrate on writing those daily letters! Why do we call it a scripted call? Because they're literally reading a message to you from a card in their hand. This message basically conveys that they've arrived on base, and are safe.
For many soldier's this will be the first time first time they realize how long it will be before they see their family. Many soldiers cry during this call, Yes even the boys. It is usually because they miss you. Many soldiers report later to their families that shortly after the call they were kept so busy they had no time to cry and they settled in quite well.
One reason that soldiers make scripted calls is because their Drill Sergeants s are giving them lots of instruction and information very quickly, and it may be hard for some new soldiers to remember everything. The script helps them to stay focused and remain composed during their 1st call home from base.
Getting Mail from your Soldier
It can take a couple of weeks for your first letter to reach your soldier, so you really want to get one out everyday, because for those 4 weeks or so, they're home sick! Before you can do that however, you're obviously going to need a mailing address. We have a list of mailing addresses available here on the site, so if you're able to find out what Battalion, company and platoon they're in, we can help you with the address, outside of that, after your SIT settles in a day or two later, (It was day 4 for Linda Farneth's soldier, Linda is a contributing mom here at the site, that together, with a couple of other moms have helped put this article together; they will send home a pre-printed letter from their companies commander with address instructions. This letter will include instructions on how to send what you send, as well as what not to send at all.
In addition to instructions for getting mail to your soldier, the letter will include information about the soldier's graduation ceremony, dates, and other pertinent information.
Be prepared to pay postage on this information packet, SIT generally shove it into a small envelope with only one stamp. This isn't an isolated incident, this letter tends to come postage due!
There's going to be a period of time where your soldier doesn't think you're writing. It seems to take a lot longer for mail to get to them than it does for mail to get to you. Keep writing, and don't freak out, they're going to get the mail. For more information, check out the mail article.
Many Soldiers Want to Quit at First
Many of them want to quit, in fact, so many that we've written a page about that subject specifically, they need that connection with home. As soon as you get that address, you can get something out every single day. You can buy fun stamps, stickers, envelopes, send post cards, etc. In fact, there's a whole fun mail page about that :).
After my own soldier's first call, she was able to call me every week on Sundays. Usually she had about 4 minutes to talk. She was given 10 minutes total phone time, which was split between her family and her boyfriend, checking texts, and dialing. A few weeks into training, she was given 20 minutes. One week they were even given an hour.
That's not the case for everyone. There are companies that only call three to four times the entire time they're in basic training.
These phone calls were the difference between missing my baby-girl and heart break. I cannot even begin how to express how much I looked forward to Sunday phone calls. In fact, if your soldier's unit gets Sunday phone calls, please comment here after they call you, so that other moms, girlfriends, wives, dads, and loved ones know that their SIT (solider in training)'s unit has phone privileges for the week. Then go to the companies facebook page and THANK THAT COMMANDER for giving those soldiers weekly calls!
My daughter didn't miss a week, Thank God. Though we did have some phone troubles and there were a couple of times I wasn't able to speak to her. In those cases, I was at least able to speak to someone she spoke to.
There are circumstances however when soldiers cannot call. FTX (Field Training Exercises (sort of like really rough camping!)) for instance might be a reason a soldier can't call home. More commonly however, they've lost their phone privileges for doing silly things like sneaking to the PX when they're not supposed to. Or checking out the opposite sex a bit to much, or whatever sort of rule breaking they come up with to lose their phone privileges.
If you that another unit has no phone privileges for the week, please post that here as well, then share the post on your Facebook page, so that the other loved ones don't wait by the phone all day. You'd be surprised how many military moms and wives shower with their phones on the bathroom counter!
Before you begin to make your way to other areas of the site, for those that aren't aware: basic training includes three phases, Red (Weeks 1 through 3) White (Weeks 4 through 6) and Blue (Weeks 7 through 10) Graduation takes place in the 10th week. Soldiers in OSUT will then progress into Gold Phase, the first phase of their AIT training.