Friday, March 28, 2014

He's In Basic Training... Now What?

I'm extremely excited to introduce this post. It has been a work in progress for a little while now, and I'm happy to finally release it into the wild that is my blog. So, here you have it:

Having the person you are involved with and love dearly leave for basic training is a hard thing for everyone involved. You go from seeing them constantly, to not at all. No contact for quite a while. No phone, no letters, no nothing. You have to learn how to keep yourself busy, and how to support them and stay by their sides during this tough transition in their lives. When you do have contact with them, you learn how to support them in words. You write all the time, and tell them how proud you are, how much you miss them and love them, and that you are there for them. A mistake is not writing as much as you should. You would think writing letters goes as followed: you would get a letter, respond to it, he would get the response and respond to that one, so on and so on. That means a couple days without hearing from that loved one. Don't do that. Write as often as possible. Hearing from you in any form, as often as possible, helps them a lot. Here are some experiences and advice from Military wives who have been there.

Your S.O. is in what? Number 1--Put pen to paper and start writing!! Letters are your best friend. During the fourteen weeks my hubby Zach was in OSUT (One-Station Unit Training), I sent him letters pretty much every single day--telling him all about my daily happenings, keeping him up to date on what was happening in sports, sending him pictures of me and the rest of his family. Phone calls were few and far in between so letters were pretty much our sole means of communication and they've become one of my favorite keepsakes. Number 2--Basic is an exercise in patience so keep busy. I was a nanny for most of the time which kept me REALLY busy--the mantra is old I know but it's true. And remember, basic is your first real taste of what a relationship with your service member will be like....the lesson's you've learned will help you during the rest of your military spouse career. It's not always easy but you can make it!!! 
Elizabeth, 21.
(Don't forget to check out Elizabeth's blog, Army Ever After!)

Cameron leaving for basic was the hardest goodbye I've ever done. I knew that he wanted me to write letters so I wrote him a letter everyday for over two months. I sent him a lot of pictures of us together and some things from our hometown so he could feel Tennessee in his hands. I gave his address to all of his friends so they could write him as well. In every letter I wrote to him, I told him how much I loved and missed him, and that I was never going anywhere. That I'd wait for him forever. I told him about my days and what things that I did. I sent some old letters we wrote in high school. I did everything I could to show him that I loved him so much and that no distance could break us up. I wrote on his Facebook wall everyday, even though he wouldn't be able to see them until he graduated. My advice to those who have a significant other that are leaving for basic is to just stand by them. Write them all the time because you have no idea how much receiving those letters means to them. Focus on staying happy and keep your phone by you, you don't want to miss the chance that he may get to call you. You never know when they will be able to call you, and the calls are short, so make sure you tell them how much you love them.
- Kelsey, 19.

My story from when Joe went to basic training was probably quite different than a lot of others out there. We were not married yet - heck I am not even sure that you could say we were exclusively dating at that point. We had just met a month earlier, had gone on a few dates and had shared a few secrets, but there was still a lot to find out about one another. I think all either of us really knew at that point was that we were pretty into each other. When Joe told me he had to go to this thing called "basic training", I saw it as a trial period for us. I mean, was I really serious enough about this guy to just wait around for a whole month for him? I knew nothing about the military life at that point and was only just beginning to learn about him - it was a lot for a young college girl to think about. 
The night before Joe left we went out to a fancy dinner and talked things over. (Yes, this was back when he was still trying to impress me) He explained what basic training was, why he had to do it and that he wouldn't be able to talk on the phone. So I promised I would write him, and write I did! I loved writing him long winded letters about nothing and always ended them with a hand drawn picture - there was something very olden day romantic about the whole process to me. It was through these letters that our relationship really bloomed, it was a new way to communicate and a new way to explore each other. We were less guarded with what was said and got to know each other on a deeper level. The time actually went pretty fast, I mean I was used to living on my own and had my own separate life at that time, but I can remember running to the mailbox each day hoping to find a letter from Joe. 
Well the rest is history, it’s five years later, we are married and expecting our first child in September. Joe still has all the letters I wrote him hidden somewhere in his office as what I can only guess is a reminder of simpler times. I couldn't be happier with my decision to stick it out for that one month at the beginning of our relationship. It has led to a lot more waiting in my life, but I will continue to wait as long as I have to for that man. I learned that our guys (or girls) just need to know that you support them fully in whatever way you can and that you will welcome them home with loving open arms.
Breanna, 25.
(Take a look at Breanna's blog, Up... Up... And Away!)

I very rarely show emotion.  The day before my now husband left for BCT (Basic Combat Training) I cried the most ugly, the most heaving, the most painful, the most hurtful cry I have ever cried in my entire life, bar none.  I felt so paralyzed, so completely defeated with lack of all control over what was going on around me.  As I watched him board the plane that afternoon, I had no idea if I would actually ever see his face again, no way of knowing that we would make it through the next six solid months of BCT followed by AIT (Advanced Individual Training).  It is one of the most uncertain times I can ever remember, full of fear and heartache, but with an equal amount of hope and pride.  Waiting for that first letter was two weeks of pure torture, as was each five day span in between letters, but I understood that it was all we could have until “white phase,” and I surely made the most of it.  I sent him everything from sappy letters, to funny comic strips, to news articles and sports scores, to gut-busting excerpts from Tucker Max books, and, of course, plenty of pictures and encouragement.  Some letters he sent made me so happy I read them twenty times, some letters broke my heart to pieces knowing how much pain he was going through, the loneliness and disappointment he was facing.  Basic was certainly not the most entertaining of times we have ever spent together, but I’m proud to say that we tackled it like champions, we jumped the hurdles of lack of communication, climbed the rope of the unknown, and fought through the mud and muck underneath us, making it through with few bruises and a much greater understanding of our relationship.  On my return flight from his BCT graduation it all seemed so clear.  I immediately sent him a text as I boarded the plane, telling him no matter how far apart we have to live, no matter where he’s sent, or what we have to do, I would support him and stick by him forever.  Basic changed our lives. It brought us to where we are today… happily married, even though he’s been living 7,000 miles away in South Korea for the past seven months.  It was the most ambiguous ten weeks of our lives, but it impacted us irreparably for the better.
What’s my best advice for tackling basic with your significant other? Be honest, not only with them, but most importantly with yourself.  If you lay all of your cards out on the table and are completely open to the experience and understanding each other’s needs during those ten weeks, you’ll be in good practice to handle much of what a military life will throw at you! 
- Lauren Z., 26.
(Be sure to check out Lauren's blog, Going Green: Our Army Adventure!)

There you have it ladies and gentleman. Great advice and experiences straight from women that have been there themselves. Thank you, ladies, for giving your input so others have more of an idea for when they are in this situation too. 

Have you been told any good advice, or learned anything on your own that you'd like to share to others? Well go ahead and let that lesson out in a comment below!