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This list can help you – whether you are a parent, sibling, friend, fiancé or extended family member – to get ready before your service member ships off to basic training, or boot camp.
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- Boot camp isn’t the time to “get fit.” Your service member will be expected to be in good physical shape when they arrive. Help and encourage them in their fitness and nutrition goals in the months and weeks leading up to boot camp.
- Help them with their homework one last time. Your service member may want to become familiar with military ranks, code of conduct and some military jargon before they arrive. As a part of their network of support, it will be helpful for you to know this information as well, and studying together may be a good opportunity to spend time together before they depart.
- Communication will be limited. Once your service member arrives at basic training, they may not be able to communicate with you as often as you would like. Make a communication plan before they leave so you can make the most of the time they do have to communicate, but be prepared for the plan to change based on the boot camp’s schedule.
- They can’t tell you everything. When your service member heads off to boot camp, they are entering a world that you may not be familiar with. It is natural to want to learn what they are doing so you can stay connected. However, there are some aspects of military service that can only be shared with those who have “a need to know.” This is for your service member’s safety and the success of their mission. So be prepared to not be told everything, and appreciate what they are able to share.
- There are rules for “in uniform” behavior. Your service member will be expected to carry themselves in a specific way when in uniform. Military uniform etiquette varies by service branch and often restricts public displays of affection, how and when they eat, when they wear their hat, even whether or not they can carry an umbrella. Members also need to know the difference between uniforms and when to wear them. Ask your service member about these rules.
- There are lots of resources available. In addition to military benefits such as health care and education help, the Department of Defense and each branch of service has many resources to ease transition to military life, including help with physical conditioning, housing, recreation and finances.
- Get ready for some tough conversations. You know that military life is not without its risks. Service members are required to have their affairs in order, including making a will and choosing life insurance designees. By having this conversation in an open and honest way, you can help set your service member’s mind at ease and help them stay focused on their mission.
- Tell them you are proud. Before they go, tell your service member you love them and that you are proud of them. By joining the military, they are committing to selflessly serve and defend our country. They will experience many challenges in the months ahead, so your support is important.