During Boot Camp or Basic Military Training, mail call is every recruit’s favorite time of day—unless they don’t receive mail. A steady stream of letters (or emails if you use the services of Project Write2Them) from home gives recruits the support they need during this mentally and physically demanding time in their lives. In this month’s blog, we share some tips on writing letters to your recruit during Boot Camp or Basic Military Training.
Properly Address Letters to Your Recruit
Within roughly 7-14 days after your recruit leaves home, you will receive a form letter with his or her mailing address. You may also receive a phone call from your recruit. Always use the exact mail address provided to you in the form letter and address your letter to “Rct., last name, first name.” Failure to properly address your letter can cause them to be delayed or lost. Do not decorate or mark up the envelope in any other way, as you will cause unnecessary attention at mail call. Some Army units require special information to be added to the back of the envelope; your recruit will tell you any special instructions.
Stock up on Stamps and Stationery
Before your recruit leaves home, purchase stamps and some inexpensive note cards and postcards for them to take to basic training. Make sure your recruit has the addresses of family and friends so they can easily send letters. Remember: do not expect many letters from your recruit; they are very tired after a full day of training and will not have much time to write home.
Keep Your Letters Positive
- At some point in your letters, always tell your recruit how proud you are of them and their decision to serve our great country.
- Instead of focusing on how much you miss them, tell your recruit how much you are looking forward to celebrating with them on GRADUATION DAY.
- Avoid sharing any news that will cause your recruit to worry. However, in the event of a serious family illness or death, contact the American Red Cross, who will get in touch with your recruit’s commanders.
- Update your recruit on the goings on of your family, but do not make them feel like they’re missing out on too much.
Keep Your Letters Going
Your letters don’t have to be long. Short little notes or random thoughts that come to you throughout the day are perfect. Here are some ideas to help you keep your letters going:
- Give updates on your recruit’s favorite sports teams (including high school, college, and the pros).
- Write about about the everyday goings on of family life: how work is going, what the siblings are up to, movies you’ve seen, silly things the dog did, etc. Hearing about everyday happenings can be very comforting to your recruit.
- Share photos of family members and pets, as well as places you’ve visited. Don’t send any nude photos, pin-ups, or other items that could get your recruit in trouble.
- Send artwork created by young family members and friends.
- Share funny stories or jokes. Do note that anything inappropriate (off-color, racist, etc.) could get your recruit in trouble.
- Find religious or motivational quotes and inspirational stories to add to your letters.
Note that your mail should only include letters and photos. Do not send money or any other items (including care packages). And remember: there is no such thing as sending too much mail to your recruit! Encourage other family members and friends to write, sharing the tips noted above.
Staying Connected with Your Recruit During Boot Camp or Basic Training
With no phones, email, or social media, staying connected with your recruit during Boot Camp or Basic Military Training can be challenging. Project Write2Them, a volunteer-led, nonprofit organization helps families stay in touch with their recruit by turning their emails into letters from home. Contact us today to learn more!