Quitting Basic Training

Quitting the Army

It's not uncommon for soldiers to want to quit early on. Becoming a United States Soldier's a life changing experience!

What if your Soldier Wants to Quit the Army?

Sad SoldierThe first few weeks of basic training are the hardest, they’re called red stage, and they can seriously feel like hell. Or so I’ve read and been told. It's no surprise that soldiers during this phase consider quitting basic training.

The red phase is total shell shock, sleep deprivation, and intense physical training. It’s that moment when you damn well know you’re about to become a soldier, you’re changing, like it or not. Even soldiers that went to R.S.P and other pre-BCT programs, will find that Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood and other military bases is nothing like they’ve ever experienced in their entire lives.

Now here you are at home, a  mom, a wife, a dad, girlfriend, boyfriend, a loved one that’s getting these phone calls and letters that just plain break your heart, your solider wants the hell out of the Army, they can’t take it, they can’t finish, it’s more than they can handle, they hate it.

What to say to Soldiers that Are Struggling at Basic Training

It’s not uncommon for soldiers to write agonizing letters home saying that they can’t complete basic, and they just want to quit. It’s perfectly normal in fact; and that’s exactly what you need to tell your SIT (soldier in training).  Remind them that BCT isn’t their destination, it’s a little bit of hell they’ve got to get through to get there, but it’s not the stopping point.

Tell them to give it time. Let them know that it does get easier with time, let them know that you’re writing. That you’re praying and that you’re thinking of them every moment.  Listen to them though; let them say what they need to say.  The less you hear from your soldier the more he/she needs to hear from you. If he isn’t calling, it might be because he can’t, or because he’s just overwhelmed, or he’s busy, tired, whatever, your letters even if just for a moment bring him back home.

Other ways to cheer your soldier up might be to send funny comics, jokes, cute pictures from home. Send prayers, send news articles. Send anything that your soldier might relate to.

The Mail Runs Slow at Fort Leonard Wood

We’ve written about the post office at Fort Leonard Wood in our page about writing letters to soldiers in Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, however, just in case you missed that article, we’ll brush on that again… it can take as many as 7-10 days to get a letter to your soldier.  That’s why you should have those letters ready to drop in the box the second that you get that mailing address.

You’ll also want to make sure that your FLW solider realizes that you’re writing, and you’re mailing, and it’s going to be a few days before he sees the fruits of that labor.

A note from FT. Leonard Woods LTC Anderson, Dragoon 6: Mail takes about 7-9 days in a perfect world to get to your Soldier; we pick-up and deliver mail every day it comes in (Monday-Saturday); and the one post office here at Fort Leonard Wood services over 16,000 Soldiers and their Families (I’ll refer you back to the picture in our photo album from the Army Birthday Run for a sense of size).

Things You Can Send Your Solider at BCT

My solider asked for lotion, begged for Chap Stick.  You can send care packages to your solider with neat treats in them; you just cannot send candy, snacks or any other sort of food. Pictures are great.

FLW Note:

Letters from home are a great morale booster for Soldiers after a long day of training. During Basic Combat Training, "Care Packages" consisting of items such as candy, gum, cookies, magazines, newspapers, or any kind of snacks and treats are considered contraband and will be confiscated. However, letters of support ARE HIGHLY ENCOURAGED!  Soldiers will receive mail routinely so your letters from home are a combat multiplier.

The Chaplain is there for you and for your Soldier

A recently read a report that an Army Chaplain wrote in a letter that as many 80% of soldiers feel this way when they are in reception or at Basic Training. However, if you really feel that there’s a problem, that your soldier is considering suicide, or really just needs someone to reach out to them, contact the base’s chaplain.

Fort Leonard Wood Chaplain's office: 573-596-2127

There are also individual Chaplains available to different people on base. Here is a list of telephone numbers where they can be reached:

Inspirational Gifts

For soldiers in Basic Training

Saint Michael

Soldiers Bible