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PS&E for those with a loved one in the USAF BMT

Week Zero From AFWM Perspective

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WOT Zero – AKA Lord Help my Heart!
Hello All! Welcome to WOT 0 and congratulations to you and your new AB! This WOT is probably the most nerve wracking, nail biting time for any parent, wife, husband or loved one of a new AB. It’s a new life experience that comes with new emotions. We truly get that! So we’ve put together some “informational love” that we hope will go a long way in calming some of those jitters. Below you’ll find a bit of BMT info along with some of the daily experiences as seen through the eyes of other AFWM members (including us!) as they sat where you are now. So take a breath and repeat after me… it will be alright, it will be alright…

Day One – After you’ve said goodbye:
Some of you will put your Airman on a plane, some will be with them when they swear in and watch them walk out the door. There are many different ways that the goodbyes will happen. The bottom line is that you have to let them go at some point. (No, you can’t go with them!) And when you have managed to do it, here’s a few things that you can expect…
While you most likely won’t hear from them until the infamous “I’m here, and here’s my address call,” there is a possibility that you may hear from them before they enter the Lackland AFB gate.
“She called while riding on the bus from the airport to Lackland.”
“He stayed in a hotel, where he was able to call home”
“He called us when his plane arrived (before taxiing to the gate)”
“We texted throughout the day as he waited at the airport.”
No matter though, once they’ve arrive at the base they will be given the opportunity to make a VERY brief and scripted phone call to let you know that they’re there, give you their address and relay any other pertinent information they’ve been instructed to (such as the fact that you will be receiving a postcard in the mail at a later date with the address information). We’ll touch on this again briefly in a bit. The generally posted information about this time states that you will get an “I’ve arrived safely” call when they get there and another with the address within 72 hours with the address. But things don’t always go as planned as you’ll see.

That first call home:
Those first phone calls seem to run the gamut as far as the content and emotional state of your new AB. The two things shared most often by members were that this call can come at ANYTIME and to have the template provided here on this site ready to fill in. Both of these are excellent in the “heads up” list! When I said above that this call will be a brief, I meant like… seconds. You may get a minute or two tops. Filling in the blanks is much easier than trying to write the whole thing out and the odds of accuracy increase tremendously! And the time of the call? Well, It could be 2pm, 3 am or anytime in between. It could be the day of or the day after. Preparedness is your new best friend. Here’s what some of the others had to say:

– Times of calls and prep:
“We received the initial “I made it and my address is” call at 1:30 am the day after he left.”
“We got the call on Tues. 17th (same day he left) at around 1130pm.
“We got the call at 3:03 am”
“The next day around 8pm he called and told me his address.”
“I had the template printed out, which meant that I would only need his personal address information. This helped to give us a few seconds to talk.”
“I told him to use the Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta for the letters of the dorm room. Having the address template and pen ready for his call was a big help.”
I was so happy that he was on the phone that I didn’t write fast enough and missed most of his address. I wish I would have had the basic address already so all I had to do was fill in his specific information.
“He called @ 0130 to his Dad’s cell. We didn’t have a transcript to fill in, so we listened to the voicemail five times and still got the street and unit wrong. We sent two week’s worth of letters to the “D” dorm until we received the postcard.”
It was also shared that you may want to consider letting the call go to voice mail so that you can play it back. It might be best to let your Airman know your plan though.

– What they said:
“When I answered it, I heard, don’t send packages, I love you, Goodbye.”
“He sounded very tired and said that it been a pretty tough day.”
“She called with her address. Very relaxed call.”
“The call ended with “I LOVE you Mom” and that’s when his voice cracked.”
“I asked how he was and he told me he was well. That he was regretting this choice and that he had a headache and it was already hell.”
“She sounded upbeat and excited.”
“I could not hear him very well, and then I heard someone yelling, next thing I know call ended.”

I ended with the “yelling” comment because it’s (I hate to say this!) a very likely scenario and it will help you to know ahead of time. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s pretty common. This is their first real introduction to the USAF BMT way of life… and I guess yours as well.
PS. You’ll have to trust me on this one now… The timing of the calls may vary, but they will come without a doubt. As hard as it may be, remind yourself of that and take comfort in it if things don’t happen as planned. Your Airmen are just fine, and you will be too! Honest!

– A few examples of the exceptions:
“It took 2 days to get the address call.”
“4 days later we received the first phone call around 6:00pm.”
“We didn’t really get an address call that day/night, but we received the address postcard in the mail on Friday of Week 0.”
“She called again on the 13th – a five minute call to say she couldn’t give her address yet because not all of her flight had made it to basics yet due to airplane / weather delays.”

While I can’t tell you what your first call experience will be, the most important thing at this time that I can relay is that you need to try to be their strength and their calm… as hard as it may be. Try to be supportive, uplifting and encouraging no matter what they sound like. You can do it!
The days that follow – AKA Bad days in Nervetown:

This may be disappointing and I’m sorry, but I have to break this to you now. After that first call(s), it’s almost a certainty that you won’t hear from them again at all until WOT 4 and WOT 7 as per the new AF phone call policy. So as the week progresses, the nervousness on your part may increase too. That’s understandable… and you’re not alone!! For the first time your lives (and theirs), you are actually denied any type of willful access or communication with them… and they with you. I could paste many comments from members, but they all pretty much say the same thing:
“I haven’t heard since that first call. No call, letters, or any word from him since.”
You may receive your postcard with the address before the weekend, which is a good thing!! That will allow you to start writing!! From the heart I will tell you that mail is more precious to your AB during BMT than anything else you could offer. In my own sons’ words, “It’s like little pieces of home in an envelope.” They will treasure every one. So please write often! And remember… NO CARE PACKAGES and NO ATTENTION GETTING ENVELOPES! No matter what your AB’s personality on the “outside,” they do NOT want the attention those things would bring in BMT.

OK, so maybe I haven’t totally helped you manage your nerves, but they’re better right? On to the next WOT!! Woo Hoo and (((Hugs)))!!