My husband Jonathan is leaving for Navy Boot Camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois in just 2 days. We’re on the scary, ominous, less-than-a-weekend part of the countdown and it’s crunch time for wrapping up any unfinished business before he goes. So I thought I’d share our little “before he leaves” checklist for any fellow soon-to-be Navy wives out there.
Now, my personal disclaimer is that we are brand new at this whole Navy life / leaving for boot camp thing. But with my husband being in the Delayed Entry Program for well over half a year now, I’ve had plenty of time to pick the brains of fellow Navy wives, recruits and recruiters on their personal experiences and advice in prepping for boot camp. So here is our personal “the week before” plan.
When it comes to helping your husband actually pack for boot camp, there’s not much to it. As far as gifts go, you can’t really give your husband much since he won’t be able to take anything with him.
Recruits are only allowed to bring (checklist from the Navy Recruit START Guide) –
Cash (Maximum of $50)
Prepaid Calling Card
Completed Direct Deposit Bank Form
Social Security Card
Prescription Drugs and Eye Glasses
Anything else is shipped back at the recruits expense. This includes his cell phone (which Jonathan will be sure to have so we can share last minute texts / sexts and calls before he’s shut off from the world), his jewelry and the clothes on his back. So, regarding the things you can prep for:
SMALL BIBLE WITH FAMILY PHOTOS – The only gift / personal item loophole that I could find is the small personal Bible. After asking around I discovered that any scribbles, notes, small bookmarks or page inserts into your Bible that hold religious significance to you cannot be disturbed or banned by Navy personnel. And keeping your family members faces in your Bible to aid in prayer time and devotions qualifies as “religious significance”.
So we got some wallet sized images from our maternity shoot and Tessa’s 18 week 3D ultrasound and taped them onto the inside covers of his Bible (the mini one he received along with his START Guide after being sworn in at MEPS). That way he has our images there with him right away instead of having to wait for the first mail – which can take weeks from what we hear.
BANK ACCOUNTS AND BILLS – It’s important to get a joint bank account set up at Navy Federal so you have access to his direct deposits, along with thorough information on all bills that must be paid while he is gone. Also, arrange to have his cell phone account suspended, if you can. Most cell phone companies let members of the military suspend their phone service without payment while they are in boot camp or deployed. A couple of days before he leaves, make sure his direct deposit form is fully filled out so you don’t have to work on it last minute. He WILL need it filled out prior to boot camp.
PREPAID PHONE CARDS – When it comes to buying the prepaid phone card, make sure it is activated and that your hubby knows how to use it. You don’t want him wasting time figuring out the phone card when he has less than 5 minutes with the phone. Also, make sure he has all important phone numbers memorized and drilled into his memory. We hear boot camp makes people go full retard, so if the numbers aren’t drilled into his memory, write them into the cover of his personal Bible!)
IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND PASSWORDS – Have your husband leave all pertinent information that you may need to know when you can’t get in contact with him in the coming months – for instance, his social security number, contact info for his recruiters if you have any questions, etc. etc. Among the info I had Jonathan leave me was the info to our storage unit, passwords to various accounts (Crunchyroll, eBay, PayPal, etc.) and instructions on how to make coffee. (He is, after all, my personal coffee slave. I am one of those people who can LOOK at a coffee maker and it’ll break.)
LOVE NOTES AND SURPRISES – Boot camp is just as hard on the family being left behind as it is on the one going in to it. So don’t let your Navy man forget to prepare sweet gestures for the doting spouse he’s leaving behind. Jonathan is writing me short little love notes on flash cards with sweet nothings and inside jokes, and dating them so that I can “hear from him” once a day for the first month, even when he is far away and our mail exchange hasn’t begun yet.
WEDDING RINGS AND JEWELRY – Now, I have heard some conflicting reports on whether recruits are allowed to bring their wedding rings or not. I believe that they can have them in boot camp but are not encouraged to wear them and to just leave them in the lockers. So with that in mind, and in the off chance that the rings get lost / broken / stolen / become cumbersome while in boot camp, we have decided to do what countless other couples do – put his rings on a chain for me to wear while he is gone. I’ll be wearing his wedding ring and his Lord of the Rings Aragorn ring. (I know, he’s my nerd boy and I love him so hard.)
PREPARE YOUR ATTITUDE BEFOREHAND – The trick is to focus on the time apart as a growing experience, and an adventure, for both of you. The biggest part of keeping up a positive attitude is consciously CHOOSING beforehand to maintain a positive attitude. Keep busy and find ways that you can better yourself. Learn something new. Develop new skills. Surround yourself with positive people who support you and love you. Put yourself through a domestic boot camp so that your husband is greeted by a super-wife, just as you are being greeted by one of the newest American heroes come graduation day.
I know that this is going to be a difficult transition for us, but we are each determined to be strong and positive. It’s an honor to serve our country (yes, supporting roles like spouses ARE making sacrifices and serving alongside their husbands, too!) and we know that the benefits that go along with service in the Navy outweigh the sacrifices. Not only are we bettering ourselves, but we are giving Tessa a solid start in life with a roof over her head, food on the plate, full medical coverage and a daddy that is an American hero in the greatest naval force in the world. And that is more than worth it. It’s going to be an adventure, that’s for sure. ^_^