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Boot camp advice- from a girlfriend point of view

Hello!

My name is Kristie and I am currently a sophomore at The University of Mississippi. I have had a lifelong experience with the Marine Corps: as a Marine Corps daughter (Marinebrat), and now a Marine Corps girlfriend (my recruit is currently at Parris Island-19 days left!) .

 

Being a daughter of a Marine is far different than being a girlfriend or spouse.  I, of course had the help and support from my father through this process and knew what to expect. My father (recently retired as Base Commander of Camp Pendleton) went through boot camp over 32 years ago! A lot has changed with what they do, their experiences, etc. So, I was left with a lot of unanswered questions when my boyfriend left for boot camp May 12th, 2014. If you are reading this, then you are probably a girlfriend or spouse with some of the same questions, maybe even more! Your recruit is either preparing to leave, or has already left. I hope that through this blog I can help put your mind at ease, and answer any of those questions. Of course, if it is not answered below you can always email me!

 

Before Boot camp:

Before boot camp you may notice that your recruit is distancing himself from you, and may not be as willing to go out, let loose etc. This is NORMAL! Your recruit is naturally trying to separate himself from you and his routine to make the transition from civilian life to a Marine. I know in my experience, my recruit was still the same boyfriend and guy to me but seemed to distance himself from outside sources (going out with friends, wanting to party, etc.).  These are all normal practices as humans; this is how a lot of us would prepare for a life change. They have an idea of what’s about to happen to them: no communication to the outside world (aside from letters and one phone call to let you/their family know they arrived safely) so, it is only human nature that they begin to mentally prepare for this life change.

Advice for before boot camp, especially the last few weeks together:

  1. Avoid starting arguments, or bringing up touchy past situations that will stress/frustrate your recruit. Understand that for the next 3 months you will not be able to hear or physically talk to your recruit. This is NOT the time to be fighting and further causing more stress on your recruit. This is the time to celebrate and enjoy the last few weeks together.
  2. Encourage your recruit. Encourage them to continue their workout plans, to see their friends/family, and to continue on with their daily routine that they enjoy; cook them their favorite food, or do the normal activities that you both enjoy. This will put your recruit at ease, and give them a sense of normality. Try to keep your negative thoughts to yourself, or to a trustworthy friend/family member. I know this is hard to not communicate every emotional feeling, but understand that no matter how sad/scared you are for them to embark on this new chapter of their life, that this is clearly an experience they want to endure and they want to endure it with you!! Encourage and remind them why they chose to go through the process of becoming a U.S. Marine if they are having doubts.
  3. Try to give them space to relax and sleep! This was probably the hardest thing for me to do considering I constantly wanted to be around my recruit every possible second before he left. Try to avoid talking about boot camp if you notice it is causing your recruit anxiety. Sometimes it is better to just keep things to ourselves no matter how much we want to blurt out our emotions and thoughts. Again, encourage your recruit if you notice a rise in anxiety before (s)he leaves. Majority of recruits will be nervous, anxious and excited for their start of becoming a U.S. Marine! And you should be too!

 

Boot camp:

The first two weeks of boot camp are probably going to feel like the longest two weeks of your life. If you are engaged or married or if your recruit doesn’t keep in contact with their family, then you will receive a phone call the first night they arrive at Parris Island. I am only a girlfriend, so I knew he would call his family and completely understood that! His father let me know when he called and then it was just a waiting game. After about a week of your recruit being at Boot Camp, you (or his family) will receive a packet of information; including their address. Although he did not write for 17 days, I wrote him immediately when I received his address.

 

Letters:

I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT write your recruit anything negative or non-motivating. Believe me, you think it’s rough on you, your recruit is being yelled at, barely sleeping, being told when to eat, shower, and use this restroom. The LAST thing they need is negative thoughts coming their way from their loved ones those first few weeks AND throughout boot camp. We all have the same emotions when our recruits leave: sadness, uncomfortable from the unknown, anxiety, and I think the most severe, is the loss of constant communication with your recruit whenever and wherever you want. We all feel this way and understand your frustrations. This is a life changing time for your recruit and he needs YOU to be STRONG for HIM. Yes, I capitalized that last part for emphasis. If you are strong and motivating, your recruit is going to feel ready to take on the physical and mental challenges of Boot Camp. The most important letters of support your recruit receives are from you and his family.

Writing letters should be a fun and exciting thing to do. I have written a letter every single day, aside from Sundays of course. You may possibly be thinking, “What stuff can I even write about without losing things to say?” So Simple!! Here are some things you can write about:

  1. First and foremost, encouragement and support!! Write your recruit about how proud you are of him for beginning this journey and how brave they are for doing so! On top of every letter I wrote the amount of days left until we were reunited on Family Day.
  2. Write your recruit the things HE likes: My recruit loves sports (Hockey and Baseball are in season right now) So I send him updates on his favorite sports teams, our college team, and World Cup updates. Sometimes I would just write out scores, others I would print out articles from ESPN.
  3. Song Lyrics. My recruit and I love 90’s Alternative Pandora Radio, Frank Sinatra, country music and Mac Miller (random selection, I know).  For a fun and different idea I sent him lyrics to upbeat songs (some he knows, some he doesn’t) that reminded me of him, and our relationship. He wrote back some of his favorite lyrics from songs as well, keep in mind they don’t have IPods or radios so they have to actually sing the song in their head! Hah!
  4. Pictures. I’ve sent my Recruit pictures of my summer!

 This includes myself watching the Stanley Cup(pictured below)

Myself on the 4th of July (pictured below)

And I also sent a few pictures of him and I that I know are his favorites! These pictures made him ecstatic and gave him a sense of normality! He wrote me that he looks at them every time he writes me! I know this probably shouldn’t be a problem, but remember not to send any inappropriate pictures. You never know who could get ahold of them and it could get your recruit in trouble.

           

      5. Bible Verses/Religious Passages. I know that for my experience I have been praying a lot and have been sending my recruit Bible Verses that exemplify encouragement and support.

      6.Surveys/Questionnaires. My recruit LOVES to sleep but obviously what young man doesn’t?! So I knew when it came to writing letters he would want to write me but also want to sleep. To make this easier on him I would make questionnaires of questions I wanted him to specifically answer, and would give him multiple choice responses for each question (a,b,c,d) (yes/no questions). Ex: Are you receiving at least 3 letters from me a week? Yes or No (He circled Yes)

       7.My parents and best friend included notes in the letters I wrote to my recruit; this helped change things up. Also, sometimes I would send encouraging cards from Target or Walmart, just to change up the pattern.

 

I promise that you will have things to write your recruit! I know for a lot of people, they write their recruit 3 times a week. I just like to write mine everyday so that he always has a letter every nightJ Lots of letters are really encouraging the first few weeks as well. Keep in mind, they probably won’t be able to write until 2-3 weeks after they arrive at Boot Camp. It was the best day ever when I received mine; 17 days after he left! Letters take 3-5 days to get to your recruit. My recruit (aside from Phase 2) wrote me 1 letter every week. Some receive more, others receive less.

           

            My recruit’s platoon was allowed protein bars, so his family put together a package of protein bars for everyone in his platoon! Make sure TO ASK before you send any items. You don’t want to draw any more attention to your recruit. Also, another tip DO NOT write anything else on the letters beside their address, in a blue or black pen. Avoid spraying perfume, stickers, hearts, pink pens etc!

 

      I live in San Diego in the summertime (other side of the country, literally) and it only took 3 days for our letters to get to each other. I’ve heard stories where if your recruit’s platoon is bad they sometimes delay getting their letters, this is not true because it would be a felony in tampering with the mail. Sometimes the DI’s will wait until there are a few letters to hand out.  The whole part of Phase 2, I barely heard from my recruit. This is the bulk of their training I believe. So just be patient with letters, and your recruit. They truly are SO busy!!

 

 

 

Calendar/Training Schedule:

Something that got me excited was downloading a countdown app. I know for some, they actually make a cute countdown calendar but we were both going through finals week the last week I was with my recruit before he left  and I just wanted to sleep and cuddle with my recruit. The first 2 weeks I checked the countdown app every morning I woke up. Days felt so long and it was really tough not being able to talk to him. It was really motivating as the number increasingly decreased. I check the countdown app 3-4 times a week and it has made the time fly so fast! On top of every letter I wrote the amount of days left until we were reunited on Family Day! This made letters really exciting! 

 

On another note, on MFN’s website they give you a training guide day by day and week by week. On top of checking how many days until we were reunited I would also check to see what phase (There are 3) and what my recruit was doing for that day/week. This also gave me something to write and ask about in my letters with my recruit but also a sense of normality because I had an idea of what my recruit was doing that day and week.

 

Keeping Busy

Keeping Busy is pretty essential if you want the boot camp process to go by quickly! For me, I have been on summer break so I have been working, working out, tanning, and crafting. I belong to a kickboxing gym and I enjoy long runs to relieve stress. I also want to look my absolute best when I see my new Marine! Getting a job (if you don’t already have one) will definitely help with the process. Have a few goals for yourself when your recruit leaves so you can have things to work on before you are reunited. Adding extra hours to your work schedule or taking more classes will also speed up the process. Keeping yourself healthy and preoccupied will keep positivity and increase your support for your recruit and relationship!

 

Social Media

For social media purposes there are a lot of things to keep up with! For one, there are MFN Facebook pages that are constantly updated with photos and videos from training, and graduation. There is also information and videos on Drill Instructors, the Marine Corps, and what to expect for graduation and family day! I noticed that when they post photos of each platoon it is normally about a month out from graduation. Just recently, the MCRD Parris Island Facebook page posted an album of my recruit’s platoon, and he was in one of the photos!! It was the best day ever!  His head was completely shaved and he was climbing the obstacle course. When they posted the pictures of his platoon, it was exactly a month out. They also post short clips of Recruit Training. This is definitely a page I would immediately go ‘like’ and check regularly! Also, there is a MCRD Parris Island Twitter which also posts the link to a lot of the videos and photos on the FB page. Be sure to go follow them on Twitter if you have an account! Lastly, there is obviously a MCRD Parris Island Website full of information I would go check it out and get familiar with it! It offers a great abundance of information.

 

I will write a blog on my time at Family Day, Gradation, and post graduation. I hope this blog helped!


God Bless and Semper Fi!

 

 

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Comment by wolfgirl36 on September 20, 2016 at 7:23am

Thank you so much for making this. my boyfriend just left yesterday for Parris island and yesterday it felt like my life was completely over. No one around my town or school even understands what I am going through. Mainly my friends.

Comment by Gianna on July 19, 2016 at 11:22am
Thank you so much for making this my boyfriend just left a couple of days ago!
Comment by carol26 on July 15, 2016 at 1:26pm

My boyfriend left just this past week, thank you for taking the time to write this, really helped! I don't know what to expect, I feel like he's going to forget about me while he's gone? Did anyone else have this feeling?

Comment by KaceeJo on October 19, 2015 at 7:05pm
Thank you so much! I'm Bookmarking this for when my boyfriend leaves.
Comment by Emma L. on October 5, 2015 at 9:36am
Thank you so much for this!! My boyfriend only has 38 days left and is in phase 2 at parris island.. I thought he was just ignoring me or something since I haven't heard from him in almost 2 weeks!!
Comment by Cher Kay on June 6, 2015 at 4:33pm
My boyfriend is currently in boot camp right now, he left on May 31st. I haven't gotten anything from him yet but hopefully I will by next week or the week after :) your blog is very informative, thank you! I will defintely use your tips and I hope to be able to support him through the the next three months. Lol
Comment by 1~alwaysf8hful (Pam) on August 16, 2014 at 11:37am

Badaboombadabing.  Guess what?

Comment by Danielle on August 16, 2014 at 11:36am

Thank you Kristie. This explains a lot.☺

Comment by Bradsmarinemom on August 3, 2014 at 12:04pm

Kristie - Great blog.  I'm a recruit mom, Fox Co grad date 10/10/14, but read this in case there was anything I could pass on to my son's girlfriend.  I wish we had known about this site in the months before he shipped.  He did distance himself, which resulted in them breaking up for a few weeks.  They did work things out before he left (they've been together over 2 years).  He actually made his phone call to her!  She was devastated because she missed it, but it went to voice mail so she can hear his voice if she wants to and was able to play it for us.  I'm trying to get her on this site now. 

Comment by Kristie95 on July 22, 2014 at 11:22pm
Kitty- Camp Pendleton!

Julie- thanks for your insight! I've been getting lots of mixed responses!

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