By Kelli Kirwan
The life of most Marines and Sailors begins in the office
of their recruiter. Families kiss their service members
goodbye and then don't see them again until graduation or
sometimes even later. Recruit training is intensive and
every minute is filled in one way or another. Personal time
is rare. The need to focus on the goal of graduation is
critical, and distractions from the outside world can cause
that focus to falter. That's why contact with recruits is
What You Can Expect
Upon arriving, your recruit is given the opportunity to
phone home and let you know he or she has arrived safely.
Don't expect to have a meaningful conversation, there will
not be time. In fact, you may only get to say hello. There
is the possibility that you will receive one or two additional
calls during boot camp. Don't sit by your telephone, though.
Chances are, if you get a call, it will be short.
The United States Postal service is the best form of communication
with your Navy or Marine recruit. You should get a letter
from them early in their training, giving you their ship/division
number for the Navy, and platoon number for the Marines.
Recruits are given free time each week for letter writing
and other personal activities, but it is not much, and they
may have other tasks to accomplish during that time. If
they feel they need extra time squaring away gear, practicing
or studying, you may not get a response as quick as you
Incoming mail is handed out each night and is usually processed
to the units the same day it arrives. Remote site training
might occasionally delay mail delivery. Be assured your
mail will be passed to your recruit at the first opportunity.
There are times when life has other plans for family members
of recruits. There are circumstances in which recruits need
to have information passed to them that cannot wait for
the U.S. mail or graduation. In such circumstances, families
have several options.
Contacting Your Recruit
In the case of time-sensitive information, one of the first
options is to go through the recruiter that enlisted your
service member. Recruiters can assist with problems that
are of a non-emergency nature, such as necessary paperwork
that might be needed for family members.
In situations of a more serious nature, you should first
contact your local Red Cross -- that is the quickest way
to pass information. You will need the following:
1. Social Security Number
3. Date of Birth
4. Navy: Ship/division number
Marine: Company/platoon number
Your recruit should provide this information in his or
her first letter.
The multiple challenges these men and women face are awe
inspiring and honorable. Your positive support is needed
and appreciated by your recruit. Keep in mind, whether it
is Navy Boot Camp of nine weeks or Marine Corps Boot Camp
of 12, the time will pass, and you and your recruit will
once again be reunited. Until then, these web sites can
help educate you on the new life your recruit is beginning.
Marine Corps Family Team Building (http://www.usmc-mccs.org/MCFTB/fa_te_build_main.html)
Navy Fleet and Family Support Center (http://www.bupers.navy.mil/).
Ombudsman and Key Volunteer Programs (http://www.lifelines2000.org/services)