In my other post I told you all some about when my son was in BCT at Ft. Leonard Wood. I’m using our situation in my wording but you can fill in the blank with your son, grandchild, daughter, brother, sister, etc,.. And yes, this is another wordy post. Did you expect anything less?
After they have left you finally get that much wanted very first phone call. In our case it was a phone call that consisted of just seconds, a hi some quick information, I love you and click. Which of course was followed by me crying.
But I knew then that he was there. Where else was he going to be right? Oh how they mind goes crazy at this point. You get just enough information to more or less make you drool and want more.
The phone call means, more information is at your fingertips. Sometimes you’ll get their mailing address, which is a wealth of information and lets a Mom (read: parent, siblings, etc,..) begin to hone their “stalking” abilities.
One of the first pieces of mail you may get is a generic post card, it basically says in case of an emergency to contact your local Red Cross chapter. DO NOT WRITE TO YOUR SOLDIER using the address on that postcard!
The address will look a little something like this. THIS IS AN EXAMPLE using what my son had.Pvt. Doe, John
3rd Plt. House of Pain
B CO. 31st ENG BN
1234 Iowa Ave. Unit Number
Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. 65473
On the BACK of the envelope you want to mark your Soldier’s platoon number, that helps with sorting of the mail after it’s on base. In the case of me writing my son, it was a large 3 with “House of Pain” smaller below it, I used a red or black sharpie so it would stand out. Hey! Anything to help the mail room get things sorted and get a letter to my “kid”. EVERY Soldier and family will have differences. Unless they are in the exact same company, unit and platoon, it will vary.
Mail FROM your Soldier can come at any time. As in my other post the first handful from my son came with no return address. It took 2-3 weeks for me to get his address. We live around 2 and a half hours from Ft. Leonard Wood, so turn around time from our mailbox to base and base to mailbox was pretty quick. What you have to keep in mind is that I said to and from BASE. Once mail hits the base it’s then sent to the mail room where it’s sorted and awaits the Drill Sergeants to be picked up and distributed to the platoon.
Start thinking snail mail. Today we are very used to using technology. Sending emails and texting, instant information. Guess what! If you have a loved one training just roll back the clock and get ready for a crash course in patience.
Once you have that address you are on your way to searching for photos of your Soldier.
There are two places to look.
- The first is Ft. Leonard Wood Activity Photos
- You now have the address, so you have the company name. Search Facebook to see if your Soldier’s company or even platoon has a page you can keep an eye.
Use common sense here. I really can’t stress that enough. If you do get lucky and photos are shared, don’t demand pictures of your Soldier, don’t ask on the Facebook page to give your loved one a message. They are not at summer camp, they are training HARD to become a United States Soldier.Your actions or lack of thinking could start a ripple for an entire platoon. Sometimes it’s best to just look and keep your mouth shut. 🙂
None of this information did I gather alone. It was teamwork by others in groups that had a loved one at Ft. Leonard Wood at the same time. People that I came to know, talk to daily and love dearly as a part of my family that I hold dear to my heart. Some of our Soldiers Graduated, some did not for whatever reason. In my eyes, they will ALWAYS be admirable. We were there for each other, no matter what. Many of us formed a very close bond. If you’re reading this, I hope that you find the same lasting friendships as I have with my son’s journey.
Now that the address in hand you’re ready to write. Then it hits you …
Care package! Oh my!
Oh no. Hold yourself back. You will want to send your Soldier in training a care package of anything that’ll fit into a package the approximate size of a shoe box. Slow down. There are ONLY CERTAIN things they are allowed to have. Remember above where I said everything varies and is different. This again is the rule of thumb.
Example and believe it or not stealing does happen. Many others were able to send their loved one a sharpie marker to mark his/her belongings, gear is expensive! When one was sent to my son, it was taken away and considered contraband in his platoon. Whoops! Sorry honey. He didn’t get smoked for it. Smoked means a lot of extra PT, physical training.
Try to wait until you hear from your loved one before sending items, I know all too well, it’s easier said than done. Here is a pretty basic list of items but keep in mind ALL things will be available at the PX. And again, every company, unit and platoon will be different!
- NOTHING scented or in aerosol cans. I think the only exception to this rule would be laundry detergent pods.
- NO FOOD!
- A calling card, they don’t get to keep their cell phones. Cell phones are checked in with the Drill Sergeants. Later as they phase up they will be able to earn use of their cell phone.
- Labels with their address. Their time is very limited and this alone is a huge time saver! These were a huge hit for my son and others in his platoon.
- Postage Stamps, use Forever stamps
- Envelopes, I put a self addressed stamped envelope in with my letters to make it easier for him to write back.
- Paper, small journal type notebooks are great. Their ACU’s have pockets and a trip to the latrine with that pad of paper might get you an extra letter home. True story!
- Laundry detergent pods can serve an extra purpose. Laundry of course and the bag can be opened in the locker and used as an air freshener.
Toilet paper is sometimes coveted and even stolen. This wasn’t an issue for my son, apparently he wiped his butt with whatever was around. He said he didn’t have time to care if there was enough or not.