Thursday, January 25, 2007

Marine Mom's Handbook Part III

Marine Moms Guide to Bootcamp: Part I

Sending your son or daughter off to bootcamp is a hard thing for us moms, so those of us who have done it are offering our advice. My sons both went to bootcamp in San Diego, so I can't speak to those headed to Parris Island, but maybe I can get one of our Lubbock Marine Parents who had a daughter go off to PI give you a little more info about that. Most of this advice will apply to either.

One of the first things you can do as a parent, is to establish a good relationship with your son or daughter's recruiter. They have lots of information and can help with any questions you might have. Don't, however, pester the poor recruiter to death! ;) A mom that I know had her son's recruiter calling MCRD to check on him and called the poor recruiter almost every day if not twice a day. That is NOT a good thing!

1. Swearing In:
Depending on how far the MEPS is from you, you may be able to see your future Marine swear in. Our MEPS is in Amarillo. My sons spent the Sunday night before they left in a hotel there and were processed and left the next morning. We drove up the Monday that each of them left to spend the last couple of hours with them and see them swear in. Moms, TRY your best not to lose it in front of your recruit. It's hard enough for him to leave without feeling like his mom is falling apart. I saw a mom get nearly hysterical over her son who left with my oldest son and I could tell it was making things worse. I know it's hard, but be as upbeat as possible. He's facing the biggest, scariest thing he's faced so far and he needs you to be strong for him. You can go out to the car and cry all you want after he leaves.

2. Shipping Out/Phone Calls
Remember that your soon to be recruit will need to take very little with him when he leaves for bootcamp. The recruiters will tell them what they can take, which is pretty much the clothes on their backs, their social security card, and their recruiter's business card. I also sent each of mine with a cheap (like $10) phone card, a very small address book with addresses of family and friends written in it and a $20 bill. The phone card and cash was mostly for the airport layover on the way. Tell them to go ahead and eat up at the fast food places in the airport. It will be the last fast food they will see for 13 weeks! You also might want to send a short note with them to read on the plane and let them know that you will be writing often and that as soon as you have the address you will start mailing the letters. They usually (but not always) get a phone call the first day or two after arriving at MCRD and MAY be able to use the phone card for that. Both my sons got the first phone call, but we missed it with #1 and #2 had to call collect and our phone doesn't accept collect calls. Don't freak if you don't get a phone call. There are hundreds of recruits arriving at the same time, and they may not all be able to fit it in. They may get one or two phone calls at other times in bootcamp, but don't count on it.

3. Letters/ packages:
It will probably be 10 days to 2 weeks before you get that address, but go ahead and start writing. You can mail them all when you get it. The recruits aren't put into their platoons until the Friday after they arrive and the platoon number is part of the address. They call it "Black Friday". It's when they meet their "real" drill instructors, not just the receiving drill instructors for the first time. The first days are very tough for them, so don't be surprised if the first letters you receive are pitiful. I haven't met a Marine yet that didn't think they had made a huge mistake the first week or two of bootcamp. Write lots of letters, but be sure to keep them upbeat. You can send small pictures or print some out on paper to fold in with the letters. Be careful what you send though. The drill instructors will check to make sure the recruits aren't receiving inappropriate pictures. DO NOT decorate the outside of the envelope with stickers, drawings, etc. This will call unwanted attention to your recruit. DO NOT refer to your recruit as a Marine. He hasn't earned that title yet and again, he doesn't need that "extra" attention from his DIs. DO NOT send care packages to your recruit. Unless you are specifically asked to send something to your recruit, don't do it.

To be continued...

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