Army Basic Training: Phone Call Rules

 

Phone Calls during Army Basic Training + Cell Phones at Army Basic Training

 

I remember as a kid riding past one of the Basic training areas on Ft. Knox (back when there was a bootcamp there) and seeing lines of soldiers standing at a series of pay phones.  It was a moving image of just how much the soldiers wanted to check in with home.  They would stand and stand and stand until they got the chance to say hello–to hear a loved one’s voice.  I’ll always remember that picture of love.

Fast-forward 10 years later and my husband became one of those soldiers in need of a chance to use the phone.  But in the world of cell phones, long lines of pay phones aren’t really necessary at Basic Training.  (Fun fact: I do see phone stations on post still…But they’re always empty).

A quick disclaimer: policies stated in this post can vary depending upon the platoon, as cell phone usage is completely dependent upon the Drill Sergents’ discretion in each platoon.  So anything you see here regarding the frequency of calls is DEFINITELY subject to change.

Cell Phones At Drop-off

First off– when you drop your future soldier off with the recruiter, leave his phone with him.  You might have heard “he can’t have his phone at Basic” or he can’t have it when he processes.  True, he can’t use it.  But he can bring it with him.  So definitely encourage him to take it.  His phone will not get confiscated and thrown away.  It will definitely get taken, but it will be held safe and secure until he is allowed to use it.  SEND IT WITH HIM.

When he lands in the airport (if he flew), he might be allowed to call you.  This is the infamous 30-second phone call you might have heard about.  It’s just a chance for him to tell you he is okay and just landed.  It’s a nice call to get.

Cell Phones At In-Processesing

Almost nobody talks about in-procesesing.  In fact, I feel like I need to write a whole post on it.  But basically, before your soldier begins his 10 or 14 or 16 weeks of boot camp, he has to process into the Army.  For OSUT guys, for instance, this takes 7-10 days.  This is the point that his cell phone will be turned in and stored away.  He won’t get to use it here, but they will give it back to him when he leaves for his official Basic Training area.

Cell Phones At Basic Training

The first day of Basic Training, he will once again turn his phone in.  The phones are kept locked up with the Drill Sergeants.  They aren’t stored in a huge mass pile in a warehouse where your soldier will never see it again (thank goodness).  It’s definitely not like having an item confiscated in an airport, never to be seen again.  The Drill Sergeants keep a labeled crate of each platoon’s phones and chargers, and they bring them out at the same time when soldiers are given the chance to use them.  Don’t worry about the safety of his phone–it won’t get stolen or lost.

Phone Call Frequency

The first three weeks of Basic Training (Red Phase) are the most strict.  While it is extremely unlikely that your soldier will be allowed to call during this time, it is still possible.  And onward from Red Phase, the likelihood of your soldier being able to call is increased.  It is all according to the discretion of the Drill Sergeants.  They feel under no obligation to let the soldiers call (unlike mail call, which is a regular occurrence), but they might use it as a morale booster or reward for excellent training.

During training, platoons will sometimes earn a perk for finishing the best, and often that reward is a phone call.  Sometimes too, the Drill Sergeants are feeling nice and will give the soldiers their phones for a bit on Sunday, to make calls.  This is why its KEY for your soldier to have brought his phone.  If he doesn’t have it, he will have to ask one of his buddies to share their phone.  And while a good battle buddy might do that, both soldiers will get significantly less time to talk on the phone!

Again, phone call frequency varies IMMENSELY depending on the Drill Sergeants, and even the Company’s SOP.  While one platoon might get to have their cell phones 4 times during Basic Training, another platoon might only win 1 phone call, and never be given another opportunity to call besides that.  It is all completely dependent upon a variety of facts that change throughout the training year (and with each Drill Sergeant).   I have heard of spouses getting as many as 8 calls, while others received as little as 2.

Phone Call Length

You probably already have guessed this, but phone call length varies enormously as well (especially if your soldier is sharing a phone!)  My shortest call was the 30-second one, and my longest was 3 hours.  It just depends one when/why your soldier gets to call you.

Sometimes the soldiers are given their phones to make calls at the end of the night, and they don’t have to be turned back in until training the next morning.  This is rare, but it is really, really nice when it does happen.  Nothing is better than an all-night phone call!  But if this never happens to you, don’t feel bad.   Any call and every call is amazing.  Length doesn’t matter once you hear their voice on the phone!!

Phone Call Privacy

Contrary to popular belief, the Drill Sergeants will not stand over the soldiers and listen to their phone calls.  All calls are conducted in the bay (barracks) where the soldiers sleep.  So while there isn’t total privacy, since your soldier will be surrounded by his entire platoon, he will at least have privacy from his Drill Sergeants.  And to be honest, the other soldiers won’t be sitting there listening to each other’s calls–they will be too busy making there own!

The same goes for texting–the Drill Sergeants will not stand over the soldiers and read all their texts.  If your soldier gets the chance to text or call you, rest assured that both of you will be able to carry on a normal conversation.  Talking in a busy bay might not be the best setting for a phone call, but it beats sitting in a phone booth with a line of 20 people behind you!

Final Takeaways

  • Phone calls from Basic Training are completely inconsistent, unpredictable, and amazing.
  • Soldiers–TAKE YOUR PHONE to Basic Training.  You’ll want it.
  • Loved Ones–ANSWER EVERY CALL YOU GET.  Answering unknown numbers is scary.  But missing a call from your soldier is worse.

Hopefully you found some answers here regarding phone calls and cell phones at Army Basic Training.  If you’re wondering about something I might have missed, please ask in the comment section below!  As always, thank you for stopping by.  Come back soon!

 

~Read next:~Army Basic Training: Letter Writing Myths~

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What to Expect at an Army Basic Training Turning Blue Day

 

What to Expect at an Army Basic Training Turning Blue Day

 

I’ve been meaning to do a post about this for a while.  And since today is the 3-year anniversary of my husband’s “Turning Blue” ceremony, I thought it was fitting to do that post now!  This might have quite a few cross-overs from my What to Expect on Family Day at Army Basic Training, but that’s just because visiting your training soldier has similar boundaries, no matter what the occasion is.  It’s still a very different event, and one I will always remember fondly!

 

What Turning Blue Is:

It’s the day that your infantry soldier-in-training receives the blue cord that all infantrymen wear on their dress uniform.  Without getting into the history behind it, the blue cord is a significant military decoration that designates them as infantrymen.  It’s the proud symbol your soldier earns for serving in the Army as an infantryman.  It’s a really special occasion when they earn it!  The Turning Blue Ceremony celebrates that moment.  You can read a bit more about why they wear the blue cord here.

 

What Turning Blue is Not:

It’s technically not a graduation.  Your soldier has completed his AIT and is now ready to graduate.  This is his award ceremony, but his actual Graduation Day is usually the day after the Turning Blue Day.  It’s also not a full “day-off” for your soldier.  He will get to see you at his ceremony, and will most likely spend the entire day with you.  But just like for his Family Day pass, he won’t be able to spend the night with you.  The soldiers aren’t officially released from their Basic Training Camp until after they graduate.

 

When the Turning Blue Ceremony Occurs:

This usually occurs the day before Graduation Day, in the morning.  It’s such a pivotal part to your soldier’s career and graduation, that they set aside a day dedicated to celebrating it.  The ceremony itself isn’t long, but you are given the entire day to spend with your soldier, commemorating his induction into the “Brotherhood” of the Infantry.

 

The Turning Blue Day Schedule:

Each company may run their ceremonies a little differently.  But you can expect some kind of schedule like this:

  • 7:30 am – Doors open for the families to receive a quick briefing of the day
  • 8:00 am – Seating begins for the Turning Blue Ceremony
  • 8:15 am – Turning Blue Ceremony begins (the soldiers march in)
  • 9:00 am – Soldiers are released from the ceremony and get to spend the day with you!!
  • 7:45 pm – Drop off your soldier back at his training camp
  • 8:00 pm – Soldiers must be IN formation or else they might not be allowed to graduate the next day

 

Who can Attend the Turning Blue Ceremony:

Anyone.  Family, fiancees, significant others, friends, etc.  When I attended, they did give a bit of priority seating to the wives/fiancees.  There were no name tags on the chairs, but it was announced that the closest seating was intended for the wives attending that morning.

While there is no limit to the number of people who can visit attend, each driver will need a Visitor’s Pass to drive onto the military installation.  You can attain an access pass by driving up to the military access points (gates) 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 Turning Blue Day, since the Visitor Center can get busy.  You don’t want to be late to pick up your soldier for the day!  Note: if you are a veteran or spouse then just use your military ID and skip the passes.

 

Who can Participate in the Turning Blue Ceremony:

Again, any one particular person (chosen by the soldier) can participate.  It can be a spouse, significant other, parent, child, friend, etc.  Your soldier will probably have talked to you ahead of time (not that morning, but on the phone previously or over a letter) about who he wants to participate in the ceremony.

I have heard some say that there are a few soldiers there who have no one visiting them to place the cord on their uniform.  If you see someone putting the cord on himself, and want to offer to help, it’s entirely up to you!  Some might really like receiving the award from another pair of hands, and others are more than happy to do the honor themselves.    It’s certainly okay to at least offer!

 

 How to Participate in the Turning Blue Ceremony:

If your soldier selects you, it will be your honor to place the blue cord on his sleeve!  He will have been given the blue cord ahead of time by the drill sergeants (YOU don’t have to purchase the blue cord or bring one with you).  The master of ceremonies will announce the time during the ceremony during which the blue cords are to be placed on the soldiers.  This is the moment you get to walk up to your soldier!  And don’t worry, they don’t do it one-at-a-time.  It’s a big mob of family members stepping forward to place the blue cords at the same time.  You don’t have to do it in unison with the other family members, or anything like that.  It’s a relaxed but very special moment during the ceremony where you and your soldier get to interact.

You will step forward from your seating and approach your soldier (who will have been in a tight formation up until this point, but it will now relax).  He will take the blue cord out of his pocket and give it to you.  You will slide it up his right arm, and fasten the stay-loop on the button on his uniform (he will point out both the loop and the button to you).  It’s easy–there is no need to have practiced ahead of time (plus you won’t have seen each other before the ceremony).  After you have placed the blue cord on him, he is an infantryman!  At that point, you can shake hands, embrace, kiss, or take a quick selfie with your newly-minted infantryman.  Then you must return to your seat as the ceremony concludes.

 

Dress Code for the Turning Blue Ceremony:

There isn’t an official dress code for you.  But your soldier will be in his “dress blues.”  It is the equivalent of the civilian suit, so you can dress professionally and that will not be considered overdressing.  However, the ceremony often takes place outside.  So dressing casually isn’t inappropriate either for Georgia weather 98% of the time.  🙂  The Turning Blue ceremony I attended was in an outdoor pavilion in November, so there was shade and seating, and it was a bit cold.  A final note: your soldier will be required to wear his dress blues the rest of the day (when he is in public).  So you’ll be going places with him in his dress uniform all day.  That’s just something to keep in mind as you’re planning your own attire!

 

Rules for Families on the Turning Blue Day:

There aren’t really any extraordinary rules for the ceremony itself.  You can take pictures, applaud at appropriate times, and participate during the actual blue cord placement.  It’s pretty much the couresty rules you expect at anyone’s ceremony: dress appropriately, be silent, don’t bring pets, and enjoy yourself!

But the rest of the day does have some boundaries. They are pretty much the same rules as the Family Day rules.  So if you attended that, then you know what to expect!  I’ll list them again here (this is not an exhaustive list, but its the basics):

  • Do not go anywhere on the training grounds except where the signs and aides tell you to go. You are NOT allowed to go into your soldier’s barracks. There will be a signs directing you to the parking lot, as well as aides (soldiers) who will be directing you from the parking lot to the briefing area. After the briefing in the classroom, you will be directed to the site of the ceremony.  Don’t go anywhere except where you are designated to go.
  • After the ceremony, you have to be the driver.  The soldiers aren’t permitted to drive for safety reasons.  They haven’t driven in 14 weeks (nor have they explored the Army post or surrounding town) and the drill sergeants don’t want them to drive in unknown territory for fear of injury or getting lost.
  • You can’t go very far away with your soldier. He will have mile restrictions (usually a 25-mile radius).  Don’t worry though, there will still be plenty to do within the restriction!  Your soldier will just be thrilled to be leaving the training area to celebrate with you.  It’s a rule simply to keep families from taking the soldiers too far away, risking no return for evening formation.

 

Rules for the Soldiers on the Turning Blue Day:

The rules during the ceremony are things your soldier will have already been briefed on.  When he is standing in formation during the ceremony, he will not be able to look around and spot you, wave, or talk.  It’s tough because you haven’t gotten to see each other before the ceremony, or the day before!  He won’t have been able to see you until the actual ceremony when he marches in. But again, don’t worry about the rules he has for the ceremony, because he will already know them through and through.

The rules for AFTER the ceremony are unfortunately many.  They are pretty much identical to the ones from Family Day.  Note: this isn’t a complete list (and they can vary from battalion to battalion) but you and your soldier will definitely be told these rules ahead of time!

  • The soldier cannot drink alcohol AT ALL, nor can he smoke.
  • He can not wear anything besides his dress uniform in public (no going swimming or changing into comfy clothes).  That includes his head gear (the black beret) if he is outdoors.
  • As stated above, he is not allowed to drive AT ALL. Nor is he allowed to travel outside a certain mile radius.
  • Though it’s a strange rule, he is not allowed to sit on the ground (don’t ask… I think it has something to do with soldierly bearing while wearing a dress uniform.  Not to mention he has to wear it to graduation the next day).
  • He cannot bring snacks, or any other prohibited items, back to his barracks at the end of the night.
  • Until he is dismissed from the ceremony, he cannot leave the training area.
  • He can’t return late (missing the return formation).  Big BIG punishments could await him (like not graduating).

 

Final Thoughts on the Turning Blue Day:

This is a very special day, both for your soldier and for you!  Don’t over-stress about how the actual ceremony will go.  It’s a really nice one, and the master of ceremonies will keep it all on beat.  When it’s time for you to place the blue cord on your soldier, everyone will be paying attention to their own soldier–so don’t worry about having an audience or making a mistake.  Your soldier will know exactly how to place the blue cord on, and will instruct you as you go.  Just enjoy the moment because you will both remember it forever.

And once the ceremony is over, your infantryman is yours for the day!!  Spend the time celebrating his accomplishments, and get excited because the next day is his actual graduation.  That is again a really big and important day in the life of your soldier.  And if you only remember one thing from this post, remember this: the blue cord means your soldier is now an infantryman!  That in itself is a great accomplishment, and one that will shape his entire service time.  He really deserves the Turning Blue ceremony, so enjoy it together!

Thank you so much for stopping by!  If you have any Turning Blue stories to share, or questions to ask, please leave a comment below.  Your feedback is always valued.  I hope you’ll come back soon!

Also in this series: 

What to Expect on Family Day at Army Basic Training

What to Expect at Army Basic Training Graduation Day

 

 

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My Favorite Stationary Supplies for Writing to My Soldier

My Favorite Stationary Supplies for Writing Letters to my Soldier

*This post contains affiliate links!*

Whether you just recently said goodbye to your soldier-to-be, or you’re swimming in those long weeks of Basic Training separation, writing letters to your man is probably a part of your life right now.  For me personally, writing letters became a very strong form of communication (funny how that works when everything else gets limited), and crucial to our relationship’s growth.  It was also romantic and that’s totally my thing.  haha Anyway, something I have mentioned before is that having a letter-writing station helped me never miss a day of writing.  But I never really shared what my letter-writing station consisted of.  A few of the items listed below are things I didn’t have, but really, really wish I did.  (No worries, they will all make an appearance on my nightstand during Ranger School– *sigh*).  Leave a comment at the end if you have any additional stationary supplies to reccommend.  Good luck to you and all your writing endeavors!

 

Address Stencil

If you’ve clicked around on my site before, you’ve probably heard me mention this.  It’s the perfect little tool to make the outside of any envelope look beautiful.  (ESPECIALLY if you’re using regular white business envelopes, like me).  A stencil can make all the difference in keeping everything straight and fancy.  Plus they are fun to use.

Address Stamp

But in case you are not a calligraphy-type person (ahem, hello–still aspiring there), this little address stamp can achieve much of the same elegance!  It’s a time saver and requires little to no skill (yay!).  I liked using stamps as a heading to my letters, for decoration purposes, but this stamp would be functional as well as cute.  I wish I had gotten one of these for my wedding stationary!

Roller Stamp

Roller stamps are an easy way to mark the date and number of your letters. I know most people would just say, “Um…isn’t that what the date is for?” and they are right.  But this is where practicality meets art-inspo.  My soldier’s letters would often arrive in clumps of 3 or more identical envelopes, and I didn’t want him to crack the letter open, see the date, and just start reading whatever letter he had grabbed.  Maybe I’m OCD about order.  Anyway, I created a paper band and would fold it around my letters with the “letter number” stamped on the outside of the band.  So that despite whichever envelope he opened (they all looked the same!) he could see the date/number stamped on the band and unfold whichever letter he had last left off on.

 


Fun Stamps

Onto a completely different kind of stamp–I think personal interest stamps, like these planets, are a great way to specialize a letter.  I think I might have sent my husband a few patriotic stamps while he was at Basic Training.  But for the most part, I would buy the most romantic stamps I could find (hearts, wedding ones, etc).  If those weren’t available, I tried to find another stamp that he would see and think of me.  One time I got a sheet of oil-painted landscapes, and another time I got botanicals.  I felt like this little touch of personalization would make him think of me on first sight.  You can even self-design stamps: use a picture of the two of you, a photo of your pet, or some object of significance that no one will recognize but the two of you.  Follow this link to order your own.

 

Basic White Envelopes

If you’ve read any of my mailing-to-Basic-Training guideline posts, you probably know I have a thing for white envelopes.  They might be super lame and super basic.  But it makes me feel so comfortable knowing my letters aren’t drawing any attention!  Obviously, if you use cards, these envelopes would be too narrow and unnecessarily long.  But if you’re like me and like using standard 8×11 stationary paper, these envelopes are perfect for being generically inconspicuous! ha!

Large Stationary Paper

Again, if you’ve ever read anything I’ve said about Basic Training letters, you might have realized I’m super wordy.  And that didn’t change when it came to writing my soldier at bootcamp.  hehe, oops.  I LOVED using large, standard size sheets of decorative paper.  The cute cards that were temptingly gorgeous were also too cramped for my daily letter-writing needs.  I felt like writing front and back on the card would make it look overwhelming and busy.  And it would kind of kill the cute and gorgeous thing.  So, I just used 8×11 paper, as decorative as I could find it, and filled page after page.  The size of these really gave me the room I need to write and to spread things out.

Inspirational Cards

I do have a soft spot for cards though.  And I did sometimes send them!  They perfectly convey “I miss you” without becoming a novel about how, why, and when you miss your special someone. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that–but that usually made it into my everyday-letters).  These are especially helpful if you pass a milestone during your soldier’s time in Basic Training (i.e. his birthday, your anniversary, a holiday).  It switches up your regular paper stationary with something a little extra special.  It becomes something he can grab from his locker and read before bed more than one night in a row.  Cards can be especially effective if your soldier’s love language involves words of affirmation, because cards naturally come with the connotation of care and appreciation.

  Envelope Glue

I hate, hate, hate licking envelopes!  (And can only ever think of the Seinfeld episode whenever I have to lick one, haha).  The sticky part of the peel-and-stick envelopes only sometimes work for me.  I pretty much use a few pieces of scotch tape on the outside of my envelopes, no matter what method of closure they have.  Or at least, I did.  Now I use this roller glue and OMGEE it sticks.  It makes a difference.  It’s good stuff.  And if you keep the cap on, it will stay moist and last a really, really long time.

Mechanical Pencils

I’m a pencil girl at heart, and love the flexibility of erasing.  <- for anyone who ISN’T currently in a pen-pal relationship with a soldier at Basic Training, skip this because I’m going to look crazy as I rant for a minute here.  Proceed with caution: sometimes writing a letter can be emotional.  You’re trying to be positive but there are some negatives you have to talk about.  You go on a tangent about something that happened at work and then realize you need to tone it down so that your letter doesn’t come off with an alarmist ring.  The last thing you want is to stress him out.  So you start changing an entire paragraph.  Anyway, pencils are my jam and they saved my skin because I definitely am a committer of “automatic writing.”  I write everything I’m feeling and then a few sentences in realize I need to change direction.  Enter little pencil.  And more importantly, little pencil eraser.

 

Colored Pens

Nothing says “commitment” like permanent ink.  These are not for the faint of heart (see above).  But they are for the creative and collected girl who wants to vary the color and overall look of her letters.  One of my favorite ways to customize a letter is by switching up the ink color.  Even though I’m really a pencil girl at heart, pens can be a creative way to vary your letters at a low cost.  I also happen to have horrible handwriting and write super long letters, so mixing up the paragraph colors can make the letter easier to read after a long day.

Stationary Organizer

A huge key to “making that daily letter happen” is definitely setting up a letter-writing station.  I know this sounds silly, but again, if you’re knee-deep in those long Basic Training months, you’ll understand what I mean.  Writing a letter isn’t always the hard part.  It’s having enough stamps on hand, the right envelopes, and general organization that sometimes makes or breaks the letter getting out.  I kept a stack of about 10 pre-addressed envelopes on my desk, beside my stamp sheet and pen mug.  It made writing letters a breeze, because I knew the only thing standing in my way between getting the letter out or not was simply if I indeed had something to PUT in that envelope at the end of the night.  It was motivating to see the envelope stack diminish over the week, and that level of organization kept me accountable.  It’s definitely a main reason I was able to send him something every single day.

Like I said at the beginning, if you have a crucial or beloved stationary supply to recommend, please leave a comment below!  I think all of us here in the Army family are always open to suggestions!   And even a single comment can really give someone inspiration.   Thanks so much for stopping by, and please come back soon!

 

**Read next: How To Address a Basic Training Letter **

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