My husband went to basic training when I was in high school. I didn’t know him then, and when he did re-join the Army at age 30, he didn’t have to go back and do BCT again. He went straight on to his first duty station.
Having not been with my husband during his time in basic, I don’t have any personal experience with the topic so I asked some military spouses what their top advice would be about surviving basic training as the military spouse.
Basic training, boot camp, BCT, or recruit training is the first step in your spouse’s military career. This will be where they will get in shape, learn how their branch of the military works, and get used to the military culture. It will be very challenging for them and last between 8-12 weeks depending on the branch.
As a spouse, this will be the first time you will be away from one another because of the military, the first time you had to be a solo parent if you have children, and one of the hardest parts of starting military life.
Here are some tips to help you through the basic training period of military life:
1. Write to them
Write to them every day, talk about what you did, encourage them, and remind them how much you love them. Keep things simple and abide by the rules of what you can send. Even before you get an address from them, still write, you can always mail the letters later. Sometimes the letters home are just what they need to find the encouragement to make it through
2. Stay busy
Staying busy is so important. Take classes, go out with friends, read books, take up running, find something fun that keeps you busy. The busier you are, the faster the time will go.
3. Be patient
You are going to need a lot of patience to survive basic training. You will have to wait for them to write to you, you will have to wait for family day, you will have to wait until they graduate. The good news is, waiting is such a part of military life so you can start to develop how you will get through the future times apart that you know the military will bring.
4. Don’t count on a phone call
Don’t rely on getting a phone call. Assuming you won’t get a call and receiving one would be better than hoping for one and never getting it.
5. Keep your phone close
Even though you might not get many calls or might have to wait a long time for them, keep your phone close. You won’t want to miss a call that might come through.
6. Celebrate the little things
Celebrate all the small things that happen while they are gone. Enjoy life, and even the small things are worth being excited about.
7. Be supportive, even when it’s hard
Be as supportive as you can. Some days this might be tough. You might feel like all you want to do is scream and yell that he ever joined the military in the first place. Stay strong and keep encouraging your spouse as much as you can.
8. Send photos
Once you get the okay to send photos, do so. Your spouse will love to see them. If you have children, they will love to see how they are growing and what they have been up to.
9. Make friends with other spouses/girlfriends
See if you can find other spouses or girlfriends who have someone in basic when you do. There might be a Facebook group you can join. Finding someone else who is going through what you are will make this time apart much easier.
10. You are allowed to be sad
You are going to have sad days. Days when you cry, get frustrated, and feel so sad and lonely. This is okay. You just have to power through.
11. Develop you
Use this time to help develop you. Decide what you want to focus on. Is it school? A new job? Start a new hobby and figure out what you can do to help yourself in this military life.
12. Watch YouTube videos from others
There are YouTube videos out there that have been done by those who have gone through basic training. They talk about their experiences and watching these can help you understand what basic is like for your spouse. This is particularly useful since you might not be hearing much about what is going on with your spouse.
13. Remember, the first few weeks are the hardest
The first few weeks are going to be the hardest. You are trying to figure out your new normal and one away from your spouse. Give yourself a break and get through each day.
14. This too shall pass
At some point your spouse will receive orders to their first duty station, then you will start the process for your first PCS. Some people end up overseas right away, and others move to the next state over. While there will be deployments and other training in your future, you will get to live your lives with your spouse again. They will head off to work, come home in the evening and have weekends off. There will be normal days once again.
As a brand new military spouse, you are going to have a lot of worries and questions about this life. At first, certain things will seem overwhelming to you. TRICARE? What’s that? But over time you will learn, and you will be able to figure this military life out.