10 Military Mindsets I Don’t Share


10 Military Mindsets I Don't Share


There are some military cliches you here about that are actually pretty true: we are good at moving, our kids switch schools multiple times throughout their education, and our laundry piles are bigger than most civilian households.  But then there are some stigmas that only ring true for some of us, like the fact that some of us enjoy moving while a few never experience “the itch.”  Here are 10 military mindsets I’ve heard tossed around, but that never sat well with me.  This post is entirely opinion, so feel free to disagree with me.

1. Don’t Buy Nice Things Until You Leave the Military

I definitely have trust issues when I see the movers snatch up my wedding dress and it gets sealed into a faceless generic box, mixed with all my others on a big moving truck that may or may not have a second shipment on it.  But I don’t let the concept of moving every few years keep me from decorating the way I want to, or owning things I want.  Granted, I think being a military family requires a dosage of detachment from material things.  And at the end of the day, moving will always come with a small price to pay (bye, bye, dryer machine foot, you were good to me).

But by in large, you can own beautiful things and decorate as audaciously as you want.  Because life is definitely too short to be living in decorating limbo for years and years.  It’s okay to hold off from buying a glass table or a ridiculously expensive and large vase.  But don’t condemn yourself to plasticware only, or the same sofa you’ve owned since college.  It’s okay to buy new things.  Even if the Army breaks a few of them.  It’s still worth it, to me.

2. Don’t Have Kids Until You Leave the Military

I hear this one all. the. time.  And I never ask people to tell me why they aren’t having kids–I don’t think it’s any of my business!  But since countless people have looked me in the eyes and told me (while I’m holding my own baby) why they think the military is an unsuitable lifestyle for a family, I think it’s fair for me to say why I have found it extremely suitable.

First off, it’s a myth that the “dad” is never home.  True, he deploys and other dads don’t.  But he gets a LOT of compensation time off that civilian dads don’t get.  And the thing about how kids are too expensive to afford on a military salary?  Our babies are free.  (Like the actual birth part).  And from there on out, they get 100% free healthcare.  There is on-post childcare, and some of it is tailored to the family’s income.  And obviously free we have free schools.  Not to mention, you make plenty of money in the military to support a family.  It’s called dependent pay for a reason!  Kids aren’t more expensive in a military family, bottom line.

Yes, living in a military family may come with sacrifices (unique stress, frequent relocating, etc) but it also comes with amazing benefits (experiencing all of the USA instead of just one hometown, bonding with siblings as you move, appreciating the presence of your parents, etc.) I think the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.  So to any childless critic who thinks that military families can’t survive– try it out and you’ll see how wonderful it actually is.  That’s coming from someone who actually has kids!

3. Don’t Live On-Post

I’ve lived off-post and I’ve lived on-post.  They definitely both have their benefits.  And while I do recognize and appreciate the benefits of living off-post, I prefer being on-post.  I don’t share  the mindset that you’re selling your soul to the military if you live on-post.  Sure, your neighbors are often your co-workers.  And you bump into the same people frequently around base.  But I don’t agree with the stigma of on post housing being “dumpy” and “dated.”  Some are old.  Some are dumpy.  But many aren’t.

Many are wonderful, and I’ve had friends tell me their on-post house is much nicer than the one they could afford when they were civilian.  And while you might be able find a better deal off-post, you can also spend WAY more than your BAH off post if you’re not careful.  I think some people are afraid that if they live on-post, they have somehow surrendered themselves to the military completely, and no longer will have a “normal” life.  Well, unfortunately normal went out the window the day your soldier went to Basic!  haha So living far away from post still won’t change anything.  I’ve found that embracing the lifestyle is better than running away from it.

4. I’m Totally Independent

“They can call me a ‘dependent’ but I’m actually super independent and have a life outside the Army.”  You’d be surprised how many people not only live by this creed, but take immense pride in not being “one of us.”  I definitely don’t think there is anything wrong with having a professional career, making a great salary, taking care of a family, staying home with the kids, or having an extremely busy volunteer schedule while married to a soldier.   But the truth is–you can’t reverse the fact that you are the military dependent.  That’s what you legally are.  You are provided for like you’re a dependent.  The military support networks wants to be there for you.  Your soldier gets different considerations/pay simply because of your presence.  No matter how many different ways you try to beat the system or not look like you’re a part of it, at the end of the day you’re a dependent.  Luckily for me, I don’t mind!

5.  Be the Tough Cookie of the Family

It’s true, you have to know who to vent to, and when.  For instance, venting to your spouse in a letter during his first week of Basic Training is a bad idea.  And telling your unsupportive relative that you miss him and are having a hard time coping without him is probably an invitation to a fight.  But, I think a lot of spouses feel the need to bury everything and be the strong one.  But shutting down your feelings when you’re around your soldier for the sake of “protecting him” only builds walls as the years go by.

Of course you don’t want to be that spouse that begs him to get out of the Army every few months.  And you don’t want to throw a stink when it’s time to move, even though you finally made a group of friends.  But still, realize that as a human you are entitled to emotions and in a marriage, it’s fundamentally important to share those with your spouse.  There is no award in the military for “least emotional spouse.”  So yes, while excerising prudence is all part of the military sacrifice, don’t “grin and bear it” for 10+ years or you might be creating an interior bitterness that will only snowball down the road.  Be tough, but don’t take it upon yourself to have “that role” for your family in all situations, for all reasons, for all times.  Sometimes cookies crumble too.  It’s okay.

6. It’s Us vs. Them

I know this is literally the most delicate topic in the military, so I won’t go too into detail here.  I will simply say that I have been on both sides of the fence (my husband served as an enlisted soldier and now as an officer) and I have been treated well and shunned by both sides when I was on the opposite.  However, more importantly, I have been extremely accepted and befriended by women whose husbands were different ranks than mine.

Unfortunately, some wives have a bad experience with another spouse and rank ends up playing an unnecessary role in the blame-game.  And both walk away with a bias against the other “type” of spouse.  But it’s wrong.  And it’s definitely not everywhere.  It is 100% possible to stick with military traditions (observing rank in a work setting, etc.) while still being completely neighborly, professional, and female.  Please don’t let someone’s bad attitude make you distrust an entire “type” of spouse, whether it’s enlisted or officer.  Yes, they have different “roles” in the family team building environment because their husbands have different roles in the workplace.  But treat each spouse you encounter as a new experience–don’t let someone else’s mistakes ruin another’s innocence!  I don’t think the real Army family sees it as Us vs. Them, just certain individuals who don’t want to be part of the family at the end of the day.

7.  I Didn’t Sign Up for This, He Did

Yes, he did!  But we did too.  For better or for worse– that really describes the military in a nutshell!  haha  True, at the end of the day, he wears the rank and you definitely don’t. (see above)  But there is no “washing your hands clean” of the military once he joins.  Remember “normal” going out the window?  There are things expected of you (like spousal positions in the military family team building world).  When he deploys, you go through every. single. day. of. it.  The money you share goes towards new boots, as well as your new heels.  To quote the 15th Cavalry Regiment– All for One, One for all!

8. Wardrobe Sharing is Okay

Not so fast.  This is definitely an opinion thing on my part, and totally a pet peeve thing.  I completely understand the attraction to wearing “his clothes” and feeling cute.  But military uniforms aren’t high school football jerseys.  And while it isn’t likely for a soldier to wear his PTs in combat–it’s still part of “the uniform.”  A uniform that men and women have been buried in.  That have died in.  That died and were buried in that uniform for you.  Please don’t play dress up and wear his clothes.  I can’t think of anything more embarrassing then being out in public like that and to have a mourning veteran ask you to change.  Unless you serve in it, don’t wear it.

9. The Healthcare Stinks

I don’t think I’ve ever, in my entire life, heard of someone complain about the cost of our healthcare.  🙂  You can’t get much better than free! haha  But I have heard people rail on our options, especially our military hospitals, and say how horrible it is to be chained to this kind of healthcare.  Maybe I’m just brainwashed since I’ve only been “off” of military healthcare for 2 months of my life.  But really–it’s not that bad.

I’ve delivered babies in military hospitals, gone to the emergency room, received vaccines, etc.  There is nothing inferior about our hospitals or options.  If there is some kind of proceeding needing to be done that can’t be done at our hospitals, we simply receive a referral to go off-post for that issue.  Like, really– military hospitals are great.  I can’t speak for every doctor, and certainly not every staff member (because yes I have met horrible ones)…but that kind of variety of poor to absolutely excellent exists in any large hospital.  In short, our healthcare doesn’t stink.

10. Our Families are Strict, Punctual, and Disciplined

Let me put it to you this way– a toddler is a toddler.  Army brat toddlers aren’t any better at speaking softly or not breaking things than their civilian counterparts.  They certainly don’t listen better, inherently.  I think the stigma comes from the fact that adults with military bearing often expect the same thing from their children.  And that can be true in lots of families.  I’ve definitely seen “squared away families.”  But it’s not always the case.  I remember my college friends being shocked that I was always “the late one” even though I was the Army brat.  Some of my fellow military friends “discipline” their children with gentle reminders and soft voices.   Even if we wish we were punctual and on top of things, some military families just aren’t.   My husband is the soldier, we are his happy dependents, and my toddler is still a toddler.  She still colors on walls…it’s just that her crayon is Army Green. 🙂


*Read next: 10 Things I Learned During Our First “Real” PCS*

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Military Love: Maximize Your Military Love Life


Military Love: Maximize Your Military Love Life


In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, today’s post is all about love.  Particularly, ways to maximize your love life while living the military lifestyle.  Because loving in the military life sometimes looks different than loving in the outside world.  It’s beautiful in it’s own kind of way.  Military love is so often criticized or pitied because of the hardships that come with our lifestyle– but there are more than enough ways to make up for the hardships!


Take Advantage Of Discovery

I think the role of “discovery” is a big reason behind the butterflies you got when you first met.  Falling in love with someone is all about discovering a person who makes you feel loved, and learning how to love them back.  Usually along the way, you discover a whole new side of yourself.  It’s the “complete you” versus the “incomplete you.”

Luckily for us military couples, this lifestyle affords a lifetime of discovery.  Chances are you grew up in one hometown, and chances are you don’t live there anymore.  Try to embrace and discover your new surroundings.  In the military, you will travel to places you have never been, and live in places you probably would have never picked on your own (ahem, Ft. Stewart).  Not every assignment is a grand OCONUS duty station, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore your posts’ backyard.  There are still adventures to be had and memories to be made.  Even in DeRidder.

Of course there is emotional discovery along the way too: learning just how much you can really miss each other, and just how good homecoming feels like.  Take advantage of that.  Even if you’re not a touchy-feely person, allow yourself to experience new emotions and embrace them.  Learn to miss each other in a healthy way.  Practice sacrificing things for each other with love as your motive, not necessity.  Discover a newness in yourself, as your situation changes throughout your dynamic military life.

Practical Application:  Google “Top 10 Most Romantic Things to Do” in your current city today.  Make plans to try one or two of them out.


Use Your Weekends Wisely

Anyone who has had a soldier go through weeks of training can attest to the fact that 2-days weekends are often “catch up” days.  All 48 hours become devoted to getting real sleep and real food, as well as stocking up for the next leg of training.  It’s hard to turn those weekends into a mini-vacation.  But it’s also hard if you’ve been the one on the sidelines, waiting for a chance to go out on some real dates together, only to have the weekends blow by anonymously. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to veg out, or “get stuff done” but your love life does require some together-time.  Luckily for us military couples, there’s a little something called extended-weekends.

I can’t think of many full-time jobs that offer so many 3 and 4 day weekends as the military does.  You can maximize your military love life by using these weekends to your advantage.  Make plans for them.  You don’t have to do something big every time a 3/4-day weekend pops up, but if you have a DONSA coming up, go into the nearest city overnight.   Make those long weekends your “date” weekends, if the 2-day ones are just too short.  Bank on your 4-day weekends as an untouchable period of together time, and then enjoy them together.

Practical Application:  When is your next 3 or 4 day weekend?  Find out and make 1 concrete date plan.  You can look up your installation’s MWR site and find discounted tickets for date ideas.  (MCCS for Marines, and AFSVA for Air Force).


Go Old-School

Many careers have away-from-home stints, but none are quite like the military.  Civilian couples don’t get separated for months on end the way military do, and when they do, phone calls and texting opportunities abound.  Military couples, on the other hand, feel like they got lucky if they hear from each other once a day during a deployment.  During field training, we don’t even expect to have contact.  Spouses go for weeks without communication at some schools like Basic Training.  You can look at this as unfair, or you can get creative and go old-school.

If you’ve never sent letters to each other–do it.  There’s something about holding the physical paper in your hand that makes it more romantic than emails.  Bouquets are also vogue and extremely romantic.  Even if you’re not together on a special day (see above), order flowers and have them delivered to your girl’s doorstep!  Care packages aren’t just a thing in movies.  Soldiers love receiving a care package (even if they have access to stores while on TDY).  It’s just the feeling of opening a gift packed tight with treats and love that makes those packages so significant.  These old traditions were commonly-used romantic actions for a reason!

Sweetheart gestures are also a very effective way at emphasizing your love despite the challenges of the military.  While his & her tattoos are the modern version of this, don’t be afraid of the old-school “promise ring.”  Wearing a token that means “I’ll be back” is significantly strengthening.  Engraved necklaces or bracelet pendants with his location’s coordinates are meaningful tokens that will provide much needed comfort on those difficult days.  Don’t feel cheesy for sleeping with his dog tags under your pillow, or carrying her picture in your chest pocket.  These little romantic gestures are habits that have been practiced by countless US military couples before us.  Trust those who have tread our path before us!

Practical Application:  Write a hand-written note today and save it for tomorrow.  Leave it on the steering wheel, in the lunch box, or taped to the mirror to set the tone for the day.  If you are separated right now, pop it in the mail tomorrow.


Ignore the Dates on the Calendar

It’s only natural to want to spend holidays together, and the military can be pretty good at making sure that happens.  With the exception of your birthday.  His birthday.  Your anniversary.  And if you put too much stock in the actual date circled on the calendar, rather than the meaning behind it, you may become disappointed during your military life.  You’ll feel like you’re missing out.  Like your love life is somehow being robbed of monumental days.

But you can maximize your military love life but not being robbed of any romantic landmarks.  Celebrate those days on a different date.  If you know you won’t be together on a certain holiday, celebrate before or after the “actual” date.  It’s better to celebrate your anniversary a week early than not at all.  Don’t be the girl who has to “skip” St. Valentine’s Day.  Being in the military doesn’t mean you have to skip anything.  You just have to be flexible.

Practical Application: Let go of the memory you are harboring of that missed holiday.  You have this year to make it right.  And if you won’t be able to celebrate that same holiday together in 2018 (it took 4 years before we actually spent a Halloween together), then make plans to celebrate it early or late together.  This year can be more celebratory than last year, if you make it a choice!



There are ample opportunities to maximize your military love life–you just have to know where to look.  Take those 4-day weekends…explore your surroundings together.  Be flexible, and make memories you can treasure forever.  There’s a reason that people say that military couples are some of the strongest ones in the world.  Because if it wasn’t possible, there  wouldn’t be so many of us doing it.  You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but that’s because it’s actually true: “Distance does to love what wind does to fire. It extinguishes the weak and feeds the strong.”

Thanks for stopping by.  If you have any romance tips to maximize your military love life, please share in the comment sections below.  We’re all going through this together. <3


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Nursing Essentials: The Only 5 Things You’ll Ever Need



Nursing Essentials: The Only 5 Things You'll Ever Need


When you tell people you’re planning to breastfeed your baby, you might be met with a positive response.  (You should, because it’s a beautiful bonding activity that benefits both you and baby with countless health benefits!)  Or, like many aspects of motherhood, you may be met with a laundry list of “supplies” you’ll need to handle the job (pillows, tubes, shields, nursing bras, emergency hand-pumps, etc).  Well, I’ve been a nursing mama since September 2015, and I’m no expert, but I’m here to tell you there are only 5 things I have ever “needed!”


1. La Leche Guide

If you already know how to nurse, you may not feel the need for a “guidebook.”  But this book is so much more than a how-to.  It contains chapter after chapter of information, FAQs, encouragement, lessons, and support.  It’s the only breastfeeding book you’ll ever need.  And if you’re like me, you’ll pick it up every time you have a baby, because it’s helpful to refresh your mind on the basics of your breastfeeding journey.  Each baby has it’s own one.  I love this book.


 2. Infinity Scarf

This is the only nursing cover you’ll ever need.  Because a scarf can be worn over virtually any outfit, you’ll never have to worry about packing (or finding) a nursing cover again.  It’s stylish in color so you won’t feel like a motherly spectacle when nursing out and about.  And it’s breathable enough that baby can comfortably fall asleep while nursing.  Honestly, I didn’t want to nurse in public at first.  But like many nursing moms before me, I was put in a situation where I had to (which so happened to be the Pentagon at a military ceremony in the second-to-front row.  Classic).  I absolutely love how covert and seamless the transition is in taking the scarf off and unfolding it to use during my nursing sessions.  So much more stylish and unnoticeable than the giant baby-colored clip covers! (My favorite infinity scarves are this style by Charming Charlie).


3. Nursing Cream

If you’ve nursed before you may not need this.  But if it’s your first time, you might get sore or chaffed the first month.  I have used plain coconut oil, and love it.  However nipple cream formulated especially for nursing is nice because it comes loaded with more benefits.  The kind I used is discontinued, but I have loved this brand for a variety of mama needs since my first pregnancy.  Or if you want lanolin as the main ingredient, I have purchased this cream before too.

  4. Nursing Tea

This one is somewhat optional as well.  Not everyone feels the need to increase their supply.  But since nursing is a very natural activity, it doesn’t have the strictest output everyday.  While your body will learn to make more milk on baby’s “extra hungry days” it can be very helpful to drink tea as a boost on those days.  I have drank the Earth Mama Angel Baby Milkmaid tea as well as the Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk Tea.  But if I could only drink one it would be this one.  Fun fact: my 3rd trimester tea and my red raspberry leaf tea are both excellent sources of support as well.



5. You and Baby

At the end of the day, you and baby as a pair makes the real and most significant ingredient for your nursing journey.  I think many nursing mothers would agree that breastfeeding feels like the intimacy of pregnancy taking place outside of yourself.  Nursing is your months-long continuation of giving your body to your baby.  A lot of women say that they “miss” being pregnant or that it’s hard to give up feeling those little kicks while baby is tucked safely inside. But to me, there are few things in motherhood you can experience that give you that intimate feeling, and nursing is definitely one of them.

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What to Expect at Army Basic Training Graduation Day


What to Expect at Army Basic Training Graduation Day


This is one of the most defining moments in your soldier’s career.  Even years down the road, when the freshness of his blues uniform has faded and the creases are gone, the effects of the day won’t have changed a bit.  Becoming a US soldier is an enormous accomplishment, mentally and physically.  This is the day where your soldier is acknowledged for his willingness to serve.  It’s the day he or she is able to begin what they have set out to do.  It’s Graduation Day at Army Basic Training!  Here’s what you can expect:

The Guest List

ANYONE can attend.  There is no limit to how many family members, loved ones, or friends you can invite.  Remember that your soldier might not have had the opportunity to contact them all himself, so you can help him out by doing that for him.  It is definitely a kid-friendly event.  There are not tickets either, so feel free to bring an additional guest at the last minute.  Note:  only one invitation/announcement letter is mailed to the soldier’s “closest of kin” (an address he provides at the beginning of camp), so if you haven’t been the one to receive that information, head over to your soldier’s unit Facebook page to see a copy of the event details!


Before all else, consider weather.  If it’s winter or summer, if it’s indoors or outdoors, etc.  There is not one specific dress code, which is why I say give priority to weather.  For instance, if it’s in the middle of summer in Fort Jackson, SC, you will want to wear the lightest possible sundress.  But if the graduation is indoors in the middle of winter, no one expects you to wear a dress.  A nice sweater and pants is totally sufficient.  I have seen everything from completely casual to dressy-Sunday wear.  Semi-formal or formal is unnecessary.

On-Post Access

While there is no limit to the number of guests who can attend, just remember that each driver will need to be able to get through the military access points (the gates).  So if you take multiple cars, make sure each driver has a Visitor’s pass.  You can attain a pass by driving up to the gate and asking about access requirements.  The gate guard will direct you to the Visitor Center and they will assist you in obtaining a pass.  I recommend doing this the night/day before you need to get on post, since the Visitor Center can get busy.  You don’t want to be late for the graduation ceremony!  Note: if you are a veteran or spouse then just use your military ID and skip the passes.

Exception: The Ft. Benning Army Basic Training Graduations (OSUT Graduations) almost always take place off-post. Technically, that means you won’t need any Visitor passes to attend the ceremony.  But if you want to drive on post at all (which you almost always will, to drop your soldier off or to see where he trained) then you’ll still need Visitor Passes for that.


It will be at whatever military installation his Basic Training Camp is located.  If that’s Fort Leonard Wood, then his graduation will be at Fort Leonard Wood.  The graduations are usually in the morning.  It is the Army after all.  ha!  The graduation locations vary by installation, and can be either indoors or outdoors.  Wherever it is, expect it to be a very large venue.  Either a big auditorium, or, most likely a parade field.


There is no assigned seating for families, but there will be plenty of it.  With the exception of a few designated spots for honored military guests, you are free to take whatever seats you would like!  Families don’t have to sit according to their soldier’s platoons. 🙂  Also, feel free to bring any baby carriers, strollers, or wheel chairs as needed.  There will be aides directing seating and door flow if you need help with anything.


You can photograph and record the entire event.  Obviously don’t keep your cellphone volume on, but there are no rules against cellphones or cameras at the graduation.  If you aren’t in a good seat or don’t feel like you got satisfactory pictures, there is almost always a professional photographer who records and photographs the entire event.  You can purchase pictures and recordings from them after the ceremony (they will usually have a trailer and advertising at the ceremony site).

The Ceremony

The graduation ceremony will be much more “military” than any other graduation you may have attended.  And the format will just depend on the venue.  If the event is outdoors, expect there to be a lot of marching in formation and a big army band.  If the event is indoors, the soldiers will most likely cross the stage one by one (instead of in formation) and there will be a video about their achievements.   Any graduation will comprise of a chaplain’s invocation, commander’s speeches, recitation of the soldier’s creed, songs, awards for honor students, and of course, the national anthem.  Make sure to pick up a program on your way to your seat, so you know the lyrics to the Army Song and just as a keepsake of this special day.

Gift-Giving and Congratulations

There isn’t a specific portion of the graduation for exchanging gifts or congratulating your soldier.  Nor is there a receiving line or a formal process of dismissal.  Basically, the ceremony will conclude and he will be dismissed from formation and you’ll stand up from your seat and the two of you will find each other on the ceremony site.  At this time, you can take personal pictures or give him a graduation gift.

What Happens to Your Soldier Afterwards

This one is SO entirely dependent on his personal career.  I can’t fit all the information here, and will be making a separate post about this.  But I had to at least include something about it here since everyone wonders after the ceremony concludes…what’s next?  You’ll see some soldiers go home with their families that day.  Others will have 15 minutes to hug and talk before they board a bus for Airborne school.  Some have a 12-24 hour pass before they leave for their AIT training.  It’s a little chaotic.  The best news is, your soldier will know EXACTLY where he or she needs to be after the ceremony, if anywhere, so don’t worry.  Follow your soldier’s lead and enjoy any part of the day that you get to spend together!

Concluding Thoughts on Army Basic Training Graduation Day

While your soldier will experience many other meaningful moments in his or her career, none are quite like graduation day from Basic Training.  This is a really big day and marks an enormous change in your soldier’s life.  So remember to celebrate their accomplishments!  You may have “burning” questions about where they are heading next, and how hard bootcamp really was and if they feel like the same or different person.  You may even notice changes in them yourself.  But give them an extra ounce of understanding and expect the entire day to be a whirlwind for them.  Remember that the day is about them.  There will be plenty of time to catch up or get serious details like future assignments, next trainings, etc.  But keep those questions to a minimum and just try to have fun!  They will have a lot to tell you, and this is the perfect opportunity to stop and listen and get to know the US Army soldier they have become.

I’m so glad you took the time to stop by!  Please leave me a comment below if you have any questions about your soldier’s Army Basic Training Graduation Day.  I’m so happy for you during this exciting time.  It’s truly moving to see a loved one transform into a soldier, and attending their graduation ceremony is one way to celebrate that change.  I hope you get the opportunity to participate in this special occasion.  Thank you for reading, and please come again!

Also in this series:

What to Expect on Family Day at Army Basic Training

What to Expect at an Army Basic Training Turning Blue Day 

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