Five Do’s and Don’t’s When Writing to Someone at Basic Training or Boot Camp

So now your son or daughter, boyfriend or girlfriend, brother, sister or friend has headed off to Basic Training or Boot Camp. These next 8 to 10 weeks, or in the case of Marines 13 weeks will be some of the most challenging times for them and you.

Away from home, parents, loved ones, buddies and friends and surrounded by strangers (the other recruits) and non-smiling TI (Technical Instructors) or DI (Drill Instructors), the questions are… How do you stay in touch with them? How often should  you write? What should you say to help through the training until you can see them again at graduation?

Here are 5 simple Do’s and Don’t’s.

The DO’s.

  1. Simply write often to your soldier, sailor, airman, marine and guardsman.
    Remember …The best time of the day for these recruits will be ‘Mail Call’ ….especially when their name is called out!
  2. You don’t have to write a long letter; short upbeat notes from home can be just as effective.
  3. Send them photos, news about their favorite sports team or what’s going on at home.
  4. Use plain white envelopes, don’t decorate or scent the envelopes; this can get the Technical Instructor or Drill Instructors attention… usually not a good thing.
  5. Do tell them that you’re proud of them and that you’re looking forward to seeing them at Graduation or when they return home from training for a visit.

The Don’ts

  1. Don’t send money; they don’t have much spare time or access to shopping and all money is logged in and locked up. This more work for the Instructors and trouble for your recruit. I made this mistake myself!
  2. Don’t send pornography or ‘pin-up’ or nude photos, off-color or racist jokes or comics. These items can get your soldier, sailor, marine, airman or guardsman in serious trouble.
  3. Don’t send packages of goodies. Basic is not the time for ‘Care Packages”.
  4. Don’t complain about not being able to talk to them or about how lonely you are.
    They are worried about doing well in training, may be homesick  and wish they could talk more often to you. Hearing that you’re upset is another worry for them.
  5. Don’t send bad news…almost anything can wait until they have completed training.  Of course, in the event of family illness or death, you should contact the American Red Cross who will get in touch with your loved ones training commanders.

Services like Write2Them can make it easier for you and their friends to stay in touch while your loved one is at Basic Training or Boot Camp by letting you send email with attachments such as photos or newspaper articles, sport team updates, jokes, funny or inspirational stories, favorite quotes or Bible verses.  You can find more information about the Write2Them service at

About Helen Simmons

I am founder and Executive Director of Write2Them, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving communication between family members and loved ones in military service by turning email into letters from home. You send email and your loved one receives a letter. I am a proud mother of a Airman, a wonderful daughter and son-in-law and wife to my wonderful supportive husband of 30 years.
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76 Responses to Five Do’s and Don’t’s When Writing to Someone at Basic Training or Boot Camp

  1. Lee says:

    Hi:) My husband has been in basic for 35 days now, and every time i receive a letter from him he tells me how surprisingly easy basic training is going for him. He said if he didn’t catch a cold, that it would be a breeze. Obviously i’m happy that he isn’t stressing but it’s not suppose to be easy, so it concerns me. I’m just not sure what to think of him saying that, because anyone else who goes through basic training says it’s not easy. Do you think he is just saying it to make me feel better? Is basic training the same fore everyone? thank you!!

    • Hi Lee,
      What an interesting discussion topic! I don’t know anyone who thinks that basic training is really easy, but several factors can make it easier for an individual.

      One is the overall maturity of the individual and their ability to handle new and stressful situations. I am generalizing here, but someone entering the military right after high school graduation at 17 or 18 may have a more difficult time than someone at 23 or 24, who has attended college, lived on their own or who has worked for several years. Homesickness, group living, being yelled at, the stress of not having enough time to accomplish tasks or to eat leisurely are all factors that are very stressful during those first weeks at basic training.

      The fact that your husband, regardless of his age, has the responsibility of a family (you!) probably helps him keep his focus on the importance of the tasks at hand and the start of his new career. Basic training is simply the beginning of this new road.

      Another factor could be how well prepared was your husband to embark on his military career.
      If he took this commitment seriously, which it sounds like he did, he probably spend many hours training for the physical demands of basic training by running, swimming, working out with weights etc.

      Also, if he was part of a DEP (delayed entry program), his Recruiter probably gave him some excellent advice about what to expect both physically and mentally.

      So …to answer your question, if he is well prepared and has the right attitude, basic training while not easy is not getting him down.

      I do think that basic training is a bit different for each of military service branches, but all basic training and boot camp experiences are geared to turn civilians into well trained and excellent Marines, Soldiers, Guardsmen, Sailors and Airmen!

      Good luck to you and your husband! Please keep us posted.

      Helen

  2. Ady says:

    Hello ,
    My boyfriend left for basic training in Missouri for the National Guards 5 days ago and everyday I write him something which turns out turning into a full page. My question is, is there a limit of pages they can have per letter sent ? Color ink of the letter ? I just don’t want to get him into trouble.

    • Ady,
      We provide service to all the training locations.
      Each letter can have up to 8 pages (4 sheets, double-sided) and we send out letters every day, Monday – Saturday (6 letters a week).
      Letters are black ink on paper inserted into white envelopes.
      You can attach photos to your emails or turn off photo printing completely until you find out if he can receive photos. Photos are printed in color.
      Also, if you have been instructed to add information to the envelope, for example Company and platoon number/name, just let us know in an email to info@write2them.org and we will take care of it.
      Don’t hesitate to contact us directly at info@write2them.org if you have any additional questions.

      Helen

  3. Andrea says:

    So I have a friend that left for basic training about 3 weeks ago. I understand that only the family receives a letter with the correct mailing address along with his platoon number and company name. I don’t have a way to contact his family. Is there maybe a number to call, where I might be able to get this information, so that I can write to him? Or is that information only given to family members? I would really appreciate the help. Thank you.

    • Andrea,
      Unfortunately, you may have to wait for your friend to contact to contact you with his address at basic training, if you’re not in contact with his family.
      Because of security and privacy regulations, the military will not share this information.
      Good luck! Hopefully he will get in touch with you, so you can write to him.
      Helen

  4. Destiny says:

    Okay I’m needing some opinions…my boyfriend went to bbasic this Jan and we keep in touch by letter. I have made personal envelopes and letters “open when letters” but I was reading the do’s and don’t about sending letters. One of them is not to send colored/patterned envelopes but that’s just what I sent!! Have I just made things extremely tough on him?
    Have I gotten him in extreme trouble?

    • Hi Destiny,

      Most young men and women try to fly under the Drill Instructors (Di’s) and Training Instructors (TI’s) radar during boot camp or basic training and try to avoid anything that brings more attention in their direction. Colored and decorated envelopes always catch the eye of the DI’s and TI’s, which is why we recommend (and use ourselves) plain white envelopes.

      I don’t think you got your boyfriend in ‘Extreme Trouble’ but he may have received some ‘extra attention’ from his Instructors. What is ‘extra attention’? In some cases, it may be some extra duty (chores or responsibilities) or extra training in the way of running, push-ups or sit ups.

      Extra attention may include the sharing the card or letter with the Instructor and the others in his platoon, division or flight. Because of this it is always a good idea to keep your letters and photos PG or PG-13.

      Every Drill Instructor and Training Instructor is different and part of the training is to always keep your loved one guessing. One day the decorated envelope won’t be called out, the next day it may be.

      Just remember to keep everything PG or PG-13, have the correct mailing address and follow any instructions that he gives you for preparing the envelope. Many of the Army families using the Write2Them service are told to put information on the back of the envelope or mark the envelope in a particular color all to make the mail easier for the postal clerks at the training location. We do this every day for those families.

      Regardless, I am sure that your boyfriend has enjoyed your letters even if he did receive some extra attention! The best part of his day is Mail Call when his name is called and there is a letter from you!

  5. Amy says:

    My nephew is in 0 week at Ft. Wood. My son’s cub scout troop were going to send Valentines (just handmade cards no candy) to his group (including DI’s) to thank them for their service, is this appropriate? These are 6-8 yr boys & I’d feel horrible if my nephew got “dinged” for this. What do you think?

    • Amy,

      Geeze, I would hate to think that these valentines from your cub scout troop wouldn’t melt the hardest heart of a DI but you never know.
      Many of the young men will certainly be getting valentines from loved ones back home, so I think all recruits will be getting some extra attention on or around Valentine’s Day anyway.

      Is your idea to send an envelope of the valentines directly to the DI for distribution? I am going to post on my website and see if I can get some DI’s to respond.
      Another alternative would be to send the valentines to your closest VA hospital or VA community living center or nursing home. I would send them to the attention of the Recreation Activities Director.
      I think this is a great community service project for your boys.

      • Amy says:

        Yes the plan was to sent from the Cub Scout pack to the platoon or squad directly, (not to address it to my nephew) after considering options I may ask them to hold off since it will be during the red weeks & wait until he gets to AIT.

      • I am sure that whenever you have the scouts make the cards, they will be appreciated by your nephew’s unit.
        Thank you for teaching these young boys the importance of service to our country!

  6. Crystal says:

    My boyfriend left for the Airforce 4 weeks ago. In the upcoming week is valentines. I was wondering if it was okay to send him a card(color red) in a white envelope?

    • Crystal,

      I think that over the next week ALL recruits getting valentines will be getting some extra attention. The Training Instructors (TI’s) at Lackland as well as the Drill Instructors (DI’s) at the military training locations are on the look out for cards regardless of the color of the envelope. A white envelope certainly flies under the radar easier than a red one.

      The nature of basic training is that if the trainee or recruit get cards, they will get extra attention and if they don’t get cards, they will get extra attention.

      Just remember to keep all your letters, photos and cards rated PG13 throughout basic training.

      Helen

      • Crystal says:

        Okay thanks Helen! Another quick question. He just called me last night, what a great surprise, but he said he put me as his contact and someone will contact me to confirm some statements. Do you know what responsibility come with being an airmans contact?

      • HI Crystal,

        There is nothing to worry about and it is really nice of your boyfriend to give you the ‘heads up’ that you will be contacted and asked some questions.

        All new military recruits and trainees go through a background security check. Depending on his future MOS (military occupational specialty/job classification), he may go through several levels of background security checks. Most preliminary screenings are done by phone but some MOS require security clearances that require face-to-face interviews with friends, neighbors, former co-workers or teachers. Over the course of a 20-year military career, your boyfriend may go through this several times.

        The important thing to remember is to answer all questions honestly. If you don’t know the answer to a question that the investigator asks, just say so. Your boyfriend has been honest in completing his paperwork for this security clearance and you should be too!

        Great question, Crystal!

  7. Lolita says:

    My son is in National Guards, and his basic training is 14 weeks

    • Lolita,
      I am sure you’re concerned about your son heading off to basic training. What training location is he headed too?
      Thank him for his decision to serve in our country’s National Guard!
      Best regards,
      Helen

  8. Julie says:

    Thank you this was very helpful! I’ve decided to collect a bunch of greeting cards with interesting and funny imagery on the covers since the person I’m writing to might enjoy the visual stimulation in addition to the writing. (I figure there’s not much of that in basic) and this helped me!

    • Julie,
      I am glad you enjoyed the blog and I like the idea of images and positive and funny messages. We have lots of families attaching photos and images to their Write2Them emails.

      Sounds like you have a plan and while cards can make it easier for you, they can draw attention to your loved one at basic training or boot camp. Depending on the Drill Instructor (DI) or Training Instructor (TI), this could be good or not so good. Most recruits or trainees like to fly under the radar and don’t want to attract attention to themselves. Of course, another part of the training is to keep the recruits or trainees off balance, changing the rules as to what is accepted or not, so while the DI or TI will not make a big a deal about cards, the next time they may change. I would switch it up and be sure to ask your loved one if the cards or images are an issue.

      Don’t worry about sending birthday cards except stay away from those with music. The DI or TI will know is your loved ones birthday whether you send a card or not. Also, many will receive Valentine’s Day cards, so many trainees will receive extra attention around that day.

      Best regards,
      Helen

  9. Shante says:

    My Best friend went to the navy bootcamp a week ago. I haven’t received a letter yet so I can’t send any to her. I just happen to come across this website. If I decide use this write2them service can I send an email without them having the same service, before they send me a letter? How will they get it. I’m just confused on how it works.

  10. LOLA says:

    can u send priority mail to my bestfriend at basic training? i have the address ive been sending and recieving but i wanted to send faster. can i go to post office and send faster??

    • HI Lola,
      Most trainees at boot camp or basic training want to fly under the radar, which is why we recommend and use plain white envelopes. Something marked Priority mail will certainly stand out!
      To answer your question, you could send your letters by priority mail. Priority mail postage is close to $6 per letter.
      Helen

  11. Julie says:

    Hi. My boyfriend just left for basic training, but I had a question. He’s doing OSUT, like a one stop station, basic and AIT. Will I still get to see him when he graduates from basic training before he goes straight to AIT?

  12. Alyssa says:

    Hello! My boyfriend is in Basic Training at Fort Benning and I was wondering if he would get in trouble if I included a drawing in my letter for him. I thought it might make him smile, but I don’t want him to get in trouble for it. What do you think?Thank you ahead of time.

    • Alyssa,

      I am sure that your boyfriend would love a little drawing from you. Drill Instructors see all, but they choose to ignore some things. He might be asked to show everyone and/or he might get a couple of extra pushups to do, but I bet he won’t mind.
      The important thing is to keep writing to him. We have several families using Write2Them to stay in touch with loved ones at Ft. Benning. What color are you outline the envelopes in or are you putting dots on the envelopes?

      Best regards,
      Helen

  13. Natalia Moreno says:

    My boyfriend left last week Wednesday off to Navy boot camp. He actually was allowed a call on Saturday (yes that quickly) he touchbased with us and gave me an address but then said that the address may change so not to send anything just yet, he is afraid he may not get it. I asked a friend of ours who has been in the Navy for many years now and he said they will do their best to get him his mail, he verified the address and said it sounded about right. So I think when he recieves it he will be excited. I am waiting to send him some our daughters drawings since I am not quite sure if he will get them all. Should I wait until he replies to send more letters. Or is it safe to keep sending? thanks I appreciate your response.

    • Natalia,
      I bet you miss him! How great that you got a phone call from him! I always love the ‘safe arrival’ calls.
      I would definitely keep sending him letters and I would definitely put a photo or drawing in the letter to him. He might get a couple of extra push ups to do, but I suspect that he think it was worth it.
      It is so important to keep lots of letters going out to him during boot camp!!!
      We’ve had our families tell us all time that getting letters along with the photos really kept their loved one going…focused on doing well and being successful.
      Good luck to you and your boyfriend!
      Helen

  14. Hi Nicole,

    I am assuming that you’re looking at the tracking on the USPS website and see that it hasn’t been delivered. I think your husband probably did receive the letter, but that the Post Office didn’t update the record and it just shows the last post office. I have had this experience with packages sent to my son overseas.
    You might want to sign up and use the Write2Them service to get mail to your husband quickly and inexpensively. We have had several families in Europe and Africa use the service to write to their loved ones in the United States. You can get more information at http://www.write2them.org .

    Best regards,
    Helen

  15. Nicole says:

    Hello, Since I work in Korea I sent my husband his letter Priority I see it’s still in the post office. should I had not done that just sent regular mail?

  16. Desi says:

    I was wondering if I could send paper, envelopes and stamps for our sailor in boot camp in Great Lakes. I packed it in a plastic bubble mailer. It’s not white, but I couldn’t find a white one. Will this be okay. Or will he get In trouble?

    • Desi,

      When they are in boot camp or basic training they are usually not allowed to receive packages from home. I am not sure if the padded envelope will fly under the radar or not.
      Before you send him the paper, envelopes and stamps, I would write to him or wait for his phone call and ask if it is ok to send.
      He will have a chance to shop for these types of items at Great Lakes at the base or post exchange (on military installations shopping is done at the Exchange or the Commissary for groceries).

      Good luck to you and your Sailor!

      Helen

  17. Khadajaih says:

    This was very helpful my boyfriend just left and I wasnt sure if they were allowed to have pictures and cards. I was so afraid that I would do something to get him in trouble but this answered all my questions.

    • You should definitely send him cards and photos…just make sure that the photos and the cards are in good taste. The cards may get his instructor’s attention and he might be asked
      to share the card with all his buddies…but that is part of the training experience!
      It is really important to keep sending him letters to keep him going strong! Remember to tell him how proud you are for his decision to serve!
      Keep all your letters and cards positive. Do tell him that you miss him, but don’t complain if you don’t get a letter from him. He’s very busy and exhausted at the end of the day!

      Good luck to you and your boyfriend!

      Helen

  18. Alex D says:

    Hi!
    My boyfriend got to boot camp yesterday. When he called to say he got there, he said that he won’t be able to write for three weeks. Can I still send him letters right away?

    Thank you,
    Alex

    • Alex,
      Do you have his mailing address at Parris Island or San Diego?
      If so you should be able to send him mail.
      They are so busy at boot camp and the first weeks are really an adjustment. While he might not be able to write to you, but he’ll sure enjoy getting your letters.
      Wishing you and your boyfriend all the best,
      Helen
      P.S. If you want to run the mailing address by me to check if it look right, just email me at info@write2them.org.

  19. Amy says:

    Hi there! I was wondering if you know if the letters are screened? I know it’s an odd question, but I just don’t want my boyfriend to get in trouble because his girlfriend is writing him. I was wondering if I should pretend to be his cousin, or something like that. :) Thank you!

    • Hi Amy,

      I don’t believe that letters are screened in the sense that all letters are opened are read. There is no need to ‘hide’ your identity in your letters.
      We have many girlfriends, boyfriends, wives and husbands as customers, who send photos of themselves or the children at home in their daily emails to their loved one at basic training. We do caution everyone that all photos sent should be in good taste and not ‘pin up’ type photos.

      That said, Drill Instructors (DI) and Training Instructors (TI) are on the look out for inappropriate content in letters and for training opportunities.
      Letters sent in colorful envelopes with drawings on the outside or greeting cards are sure to attract attention and the recruit may be asked to share the card or letter with their platoon or training flight. Sometimes the instructor will ‘request’ that some push ups or sit ups be completed as part of this training opportunity.

      You shouldn’t worry about sending your boyfriend letters or cards. He needs to hear from you and his family and friends throughout basic training or boot camp. Worst case is that he does a couple of extra push ups…a small price to pay for letter from home!

  20. Natty says:

    Helen,

    Hi and thanks for a great post!! My husband will be leaving for AF BMT soon, and my idea was to send him post cards in lieu of actual letters (save on postage ($.34 vs $.49) and forces me to keep the messages short and sweet as I can accidentally go on and on without realizing it). Do you think this will attract extra unwanted attention towards him? Should I scrap this idea all together? He definitely wants to stay under the radar as much as possible! TIA!!!

    • Natty,
      I am so sorry that my response to your post is so late! I love the idea of the postcards, but yes I think this will attract some extra attention.
      You are right on track about keeping your message short and sweet and upbeat. You know that he’ll miss you tons and the last thing he needs to be worried even more about you than he already is.
      I would suggest sending one and asking him in your next letter if it was an issue.
      Let me know!
      Good luck to you and your new hubby!

  21. yazmine says:

    Hello, my boyfriend just left this Monday to basic training at fort benning. I was wondering how long after reception do I have to wait to get an address to send him letters?? Also, wen do they find out there family day dates???

    • Hi Yazmine,

      Unfortunately, I don’t know how long it will be before you get his address at Ft Benning so you can write to him.
      I am sure that as soon as he gets a chance he’ll write to you and let you know the address because Mail Call will definitely be the best part of his day especially if there is a letter from you!

      I bet you’re missing your boyfriend right now a lot and writing to him will definitely help you feel closer to him.
      Just remember to keep it positive when you do write because he doesn’t need to be worried about you, he needs to be focused on doing his best during training.

      You might want to check out the website for the National Association of Military Moms and Spouses. They have support groups for girlfriends too!

      Good luck to you and your soldier!

  22. Marie says:

    Hello
    My son went to army BCT for the first time Jan 2014. Since then we have heard from him 3 times by phone and letter. I sent him 2 sheets of photos on 8×11 one a picture drawing. I drew a dog tag on back of envelope and another warning message saying contents may make you laugh. I also sent them priority mail. My question is Is this TROUBLE?

    • How wonderful that you have heard from your son 3 times in his first month at BCT!
      I am sure that he enjoyed the photos and the drawing. I love your creativity about the dog tag and comment on the back of the envelope, but it probably did catch the eye of the Instructor. That doesn’t mean that your son got in “trouble” for it; it just drew attention to him and most of the guys at BCT try to ‘fly under the radar’ and avoid extra attention. I wouldn’t worry about it and you might ask him about it in your next letter.
      One of things we emphasize to the families using Write2Them is just to keep a steady stream of emails coming in so that every day a letter goes out
      to their loved one. Creating that pipeline of letters on their way results in their name always being called at Mail Call.
      Best to you and your son,
      Helen

      • Marie says:

        Thank you
        I needed to hear those words. I’m a worrier so having you as a voice of warmth and experience gives a lot less grief. So thanks again for your sacrifice and kindness.

  23. Naf says:

    Hey,
    Well me and my boyfriend have been in long distance relationship for almost three years now, we have met once. Now, he is leaving for his BCT in couple of days. Can it be more difficult? How are we supposed to get their address for sending them letters? Or in my case, is there any alternative like sending emails?
    Thanks.

    • If you are already use to having a long distance relationship, it probably won’t be that much different except you will not be able to talk or text each other during BCT.
      After almost 3 years, I would think that you and he might have exchanged actual mailing addresses. If so then you will have to wait for him to send you a handwritten letter with his physical mailing address at BCT. After that you can send him handwritten letters or sign up for the Write2Them service which let’s you send emails (along with attached photos) while he is in training. You can find out more about Project Write2Them at http://www.write2them.org .
      Good Luck,
      Helen

  24. Erica says:

    Hi there,

    My boyfriend just left for boot camp a few days ago. I understand not to decorate the envelope, but is it okay if I write the letter itself on personalized stationery? It’s not anything fancy, literally just lined white paper with a simple vector art in the top right corner. I’m afraid that he might get yelled at or have to do push-ups for it though. Advice please?

    Thanks.

    • Erica
      Training Instructors and Drill Instructors are going to look for “training” opportunities during basic training and boot camp. Honestly, I don’t think your stationery will result in your boyfriend getting more attention. Be careful with photos that you send. Always make sure that they are tasteful and not “pin up” type. If the TI or DI want to provide some additional attention or training push ups for an individual or a group, they will certainly find some reason to do so.
      Try not to worry about him; just keep sending him lots of letters of support.
      Good luck,
      Helen

  25. bre says:

    So can we send pictures with the letter tho?

    • HI Bre,
      Yes. You can definitely send pictures to your loved one while they are in boot camp or basic training.

      Just make sure that they are tasteful (no pin up type photos); you don’t want to get your guy in trouble.

      If you use Write2Them, you can simply attach your photos to your email and they are printed and mailed right out with your email. We suggest med resolution photos if you’re using a smart phone.

      Thanks for reading the blog and asking the question!

      Helen

      • Marie says:

        HI I sent out a pretty inappropriate joke to my sailor recruit a couple days ago… it had the words midget porn in it.. so what kind of trouble is he looking at getting into..

      • Dear Marie,
        Letters are not typically read by the instructors, but you never know when they might be asked to share a letter from home. Don’t worry about it as there is nothing you can do about the situation now.
        The military is very serious about inappropriate behavior and setting the correct example for the trainees. Depending on the situation and training instructors, your sailor may get extra duties, additional physical training (extra push ups, running etc) or demerits.
        Be careful about the contents of your future letters to your sailor. Keep it all PG or PG-13. When in doubt, keep it out!
        Best to you and your sailor,
        Helen

    • Ashton says:

      I just spoke to my bf in the Navy and he got my letters and I sent a photo strip from a photo booth of my daughter and I. He said he was thrilled to receive them and asked me to send more but to put the pictures inside the letter. Obviously don’t send any provocative pictures, but he said they have a lock box they can keep letters and pictures in. Hope this helps :)
      -Ashton

  26. Ashton says:

    My boyfriend has been in basic for the Navy 10 days now. Still no phone call other than the “I’m here, bye” and no mail other than the box. I have written a letter every day and my daughter has written a letter and drew a picture for him. I’m hoping to get a letter with a return address soon, my question is how long can this take?

    • Hi Ashton,
      It can take awhile for them to get some free time and energy to write home. The Navy keeps them very busy especially during those first weeks.
      He will love getting all your letters and your daughter’s picture when you do send them out.
      Letters from home really help keep their spirits up during boot camp.
      Keep writing and I hope you get the address soon!
      Helen

  27. Bethany says:

    My Sailor just began boot on Wednesday and i have already written two cards. I was trying to find stationary to write him on, but was coming up empty handed. I decided to buy scrap booking supplies and decorate plain cards to make them more personal. These cards came with envelopes that are a plain brown kinda old fashioned look. Will that draw too much negative attention to him? I certainly don’t want to make him suffer in any way or end up suffering a lack of letters because of my attempt to cheer him up.

    • Hi Bethany,

      Thanks for asking the question! I love your idea about creating cards from scrap booking supplies.
      Honestly, I don’t know about the plain brown envelopes as we recommend just plain white envelopes as do most of the other military support groups.
      I would think that your envelopes would probably ‘fly under the radar’ especially if you don’t decorate them or spritz them with perfume.
      I am sure that your Sailor would not mind doing a few extra push ups for the pleasure of having a card from you!

      Also, just ask him in your next letter. Of course, one day the instructor might be fine with the envelope and the next day decide it is not fine, which is all just part of the training is to keep them on their toes and to learn to adapt to changing rules and requirements.

      Bethany, in addition to writing your Sailor, you might want to start a scrapbook for your Sailor’s Navy career. There are some great products out there with military themed stickers, papers and a variety of actual scrapbooks.

      Let me know if I can help at all.

      Best regards,
      Helen

  28. Sheri says:

    Hello Helen,
    I’ve sent two letters to my daughter who is in Basic Training in Parris Island. I wrote the first one, but I typed the second one. I’m wondering if that’s too impersonal. On the typed letter is was able to insert a picture of Bella (our dog) who absolutely adores our daughter. Just wondering what your thoughts are.

    Thank you,
    Sheri

    • Dear Shari,

      Wow, you must so proud of your daughter enlisting in the Marine Corps. I think your daughter needs as much positive support and encouragement that she can get while she is at Parris Island for boot camp! Whatever way is easiest for you and your family to get those messages to her is the best way.

      Overwhelmingly, we have heard from recruits that they are so happy to hear their name called at mail call and know that someone cared enough to send a card or letter that they don’t care whether the note is short or long, on notebook paper or fine stationery, handwritten or typed. The important thing is that they got mail from someone back home and that those positive words and photos made them smile at the end of a very hard day of training.

      Our goal at Project Write2Them is to make it as easy as possible for parents, grandparents, spouses, family and friends to send those letters of support to those loved ones during basic training and boot camp.

      Wishing the best for your daughter as she begins her service to our country as a Marine!

  29. so don’t send color envelopes or color paper???

    • HI Monica,

      Thanks for asking the question! Well…most trainees or recruits try not attract the attention of their Drill or Technical Instructors during basic training or boot camp. Colorful items…especially decorated envelopes (those with drawings, doodles, hearts etc.) will catch the eye of the instructors. This may result in a bit of teasing or extra training (a couple more situps or push ups.)
      Whatever you do, however, just keep writing to your loved one or friend while they are at basic training…they need those letters and your support!!!

  30. Jennifer says:

    Why no care packages? When asking some friends who recentlygot out of bct what they liked best, it was getting a care package. :-/

    • Hi Jennifer,
      Thanks for posting. It really depends on where the person is attending BCT. We recommend that no care packages be sent to BCT unless specifically directed by the recruit to send one.
      Once recruits complete their basic training and are on to Tech School or the next phase of their training, care packages are definitely welcome!!
      Best regards,
      Helen

    • Lori says:

      Because THE military SAYS so. Sorry, it isn’t just recommended, it’s plainly stated NO care packages until tech school. The servicemember will get into trouble and the items sent will be confiscated. After Basic…packages are allowed.

      • Hi Lori,
        Where did you or your loved one go through Basic Training?
        Our general advice is always DON’T SEND any care packages during training periods unless specifically told to do so by the recruit or cadet once they are at their training location.
        Our son told us about one trainee in his flight at Lackland who’s mom sent power bars for everyone. Of course, care packages are not allowed during Air Force Basic Training and the TI (Tech Instructor) made the kid eat the bars until he was sick. :-(
        Thanks,
        Helen

  31. ndjmom says:

    You forgot about Marines, they aren’t called soldiers, airmen, or sailors. You may not know, but they have 13 weeks of training, which is the longest in any service and the restrictions are even more strict. No phone calls on weekends, no cells phones at all. I have enjoyed your site and I’ll have to feature you on one of my Warrior Wednesday blogs.

    • Thank you for the heads up that I didn’t have all the services covered when I didn’t put Marines in the list. My Dad served during WWII in the Pacific with the 6th Marine Division in the battles of Guadalcanal and Okinawa. Thank you again for bringing this to my attention.
      Also, thank you for the information about the Marine Basic Training period and the restrictions. It must be very difficult for the families to have so little contact and for such a long period.
      Write2Them really makes it easy for families and friends to write to the loved one at training and as you know the positive support from home can help them make it through!

      • Katlyn says:

        I’m not on his writing list but I have his address if I send a letter to that address will he get it or get in trouble or will they sent it back . Please help me

      • Katlyn,

        I am not sure exactly what you mean about not being on his ‘writing list’ or why you think he would get in trouble for receiving a letter. If you have his correct mailing address, the post office will deliver the letter to that address. If he is no longer at the address, the post office will return to the return address you put on the envelope.

        I hope this helps!

        Helen

    • Brandi says:

      They did mention the Marines in the very first paragraph. And a Marine is a solider still.

      • Hi Brandi,
        Do you have a special Marine or soldier in your life?
        My Dad is a WWII Marine and still with us at 89 years old and very much a proud Marine.
        I think when I first posted this blog and ndjmom commented, I had omitted Marines. As soon as she alerted me, I was happy to make a change to the blog and repost it.
        I hope you found the suggestions helpful as you write to a loved one at boot camp or basic training.
        Helen

      • Ben says:

        Marines are actually not soldiers, they are Marines. The army calles their guys “soldier” and if you call a marine “soldier” you will see how that makes them feel, and you may get a little piece of that too.

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