A Parents' Guide to Surviving Air Force Basic Training (BMTS)

Basic Training

My husband Chris and I are veterans of the United States Air Force. We both went through six weeks of basic military training during the mid 1980s at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Having gone through the experience myself I thought I would be prepared when my 19 year old son Rhett left for BMT after joining the Oklahoma Air National Guard. Boy was I wrong. Though I knew exactly what he was in for, the 8.5 weeks he was gone were the longest and most stressful of my life. If it weren't for the different support services that are available to military families I think I would have gone crazy.

I am so grateful for the information that I received I decided to write this hub to pay it forward. If you have a loved one leaving for San Antonio there are avenues available to you to help you get through the long weeks without your special Airman.

My son's first full day at Lackland Air Force Base.
My son's first full day at Lackland Air Force Base.
My husband Chris.
My husband Chris.
My son Rhett
My son Rhett

Day One - Zero Week

Your loved ones ship date has arrived. You take him/her to the airport, kiss him/her goodbye, shed buckets of tears, then go home to begin your long wait for their first phone call. Our son had his cell phone with him and called us several times before he boarded the military bus for his trip to Lackland, but it was a day before we heard from him again. His initial Air Force call came late the next evening and the stress he was feeling was apparent as he hurriedly attempted to give his sleepy father his new address. After three unsuccessful attempts to relay the address he finally hung up on his dad and called his girlfriend.It was 2 weeks before we heard from him again. (I cried the entire two weeks-then when I heard his voice I tried to be brave and not cry-but didn't make it. I cried during every subsequent call too.)

When your airman gets to their dorm at Lackland he/she has to surrender his/her cell phone. He/She may get it on Sunday afternoons to call home if his/her MTI, military training instructor, gives them the privilege. If your airman doesn't have a cell phone their MTI will allow him to call you using a pay phone and phone card. The calls during the first few weeks are usually short, 20 minutes or less, but normally the call time gets extended as the weeks progress.

Don't be surprised if you don't receive a phone call every week. The MTI's know how important the calls are to the men and women in training so they use them to their advantage. If your airman's flight isn't progressing as quickly as they should, or if the flight gets into trouble their TI may take away their phone privileges. My son's sister flight had their phone privileges suspended several times during their stay at Lackland. On the flip side don't be surprised if you hear from your airman unexpectedly-the MTI's like to use the calls as a reward when the flight does well.

It's important to remember that you can't call your airman while he or she is gone. If your airman had their own cell phone it gets locked up during the week so it is useless to try to call them on it. And don't even think about calling the base! You could get your airman in trouble. If there is an emergency such as a death in the family, contact your local Red Cross. They will be able to relay the message through the proper military chain of command and your airman will call YOU.

Writing Your Airman

Don't ever underestimate the effect your letters have on your airman. Most of them are away from home for the very first time and cherish the mail they receive. During mail call the MTI usually gathers the entire flight into the day room and distributes any mail the flight receives (my TI loved to throw our mail at us so she could watch us excitedly scramble to scoop it up).

All trainees are provided with a mailing address when they reach the base and families and loved ones normally receive a postcard containing that information within the first week of training. If you want the information even sooner you can email the BMT Reception center at: and and provide them with information about your airman. They can usually provide you with your airman's mailing address in a short time.

Your airman's address will be in the following format:

AB Last Name, First Name, Middle Initial

# # TRS / FLT # # # (Dorm "Letter"-#)

1320 Truemper Street Unit 36 # # # #

Lackland AFB, TX 78236-# # # # (zip extension)

Rhett getting his blues.
Rhett getting his blues.
Gas chamber instruction.
Gas chamber instruction.
Rhett exiting the gas chamber. Recruits have to hold out their arms so they aren't tempted to rub their eyes.
Rhett exiting the gas chamber. Recruits have to hold out their arms so they aren't tempted to rub their eyes.
Fun with pugil sticks.
Fun with pugil sticks.
Let's play fair.
Let's play fair.
My husband and son during grad week.
My husband and son during grad week.

Your Airmans Activities-Week By Week

Your airman is going through rigorous training in his attempt to become a member of the United States Air Force. His weekly training breaks down like this:

  • 0 Week-Your airman receives his first military haircut and uniforms, is a assigned a flight and training instructor, and tries to settle into his new temporary home. He also begins a vigorous exercise program.
  • Week 1-During his first full week at basic training your airman learns what's expected of him in the upcoming weeks. He learns how to make his bed properly, how to fold his clothes properly, the proper way to clean the bay, how to march properly, and how to behave at all times. It's a stressful week. To top it off he will receive a battery of shots that may possibly make him sick. My son said the majority of his flight was sick this week.
  • Week 2-During week 2 your airman receives his m-16. He is expected to keep his weapon with him and keep it clean at all times. He is required to learn how to break the weapon down and reassemble it in a certain time period. His PT, (physical training) intensifies and he will be running several miles a day.
  • Week 3-During week 3 your airman learns basic first aid during buddy care training.
  • Week 4- Week 4 is an exciting week. Your airman gets to experience the confidence course and enter the bases "gas chamber". The confidence course is filled with obstacles that your airmen is expected to overcome. It's an action packed, fun day. My son's flight was unable to complete the course due to bad weather and he was very disappointed because there was no way to make it up.
  • During this week your airman also receives training in chemical warfare and enters the gas chamber. It's an experience he will never forget.
  • Week 5-During week 5 your airman learns self defense and gets to beat the tar out of one of his fellow trainees with a pugil stick. He also learns CPR and participates in "live fire" exercises with an M-16.
  • Week 6-Week 6 is "Beast Week". During beast week your airman will be living in the field. He will live in his "battle rattle" and practice all of the skills he learned during the previous weeks. He will also receive his dog tags.
  • Week 7- During week 7 your airman takes his end of training exam and begins preparing to graduate and leave the base.
  • Week 8- Week 8 is graduation week. Families and loved ones are invited onto the base to witness several exciting ceremonies. The Airman's Run and Coin Ceremony are held on Thursday. During the run your airman runs with his entire flight singing cadences-it's exciting and I was so proud to see my son. They go back to their dorms to change then proceed to the field for the coin ceremony. A word to the wise-if you want to be able to see the ceremony, get a seat in the stands early-they go very quickly. At the end of the coin ceremony you are able to "tap out" your airman and spend the rest of the day with him on base. I was given the privilege of tapping out my son. I was able to go onto the parade field after the ceremony and tap my son on the shoulder. He had to be tapped before he was allowed to leave the field. His first words to me where, "What took you so long I've been standing here forever!" We spent the rest of the day eating pizza at the "GodFathers" on base, visiting the base bx and watching a movie at the movie theater. Your airman officially graduates on Friday and after the ceremony he gets his first town pass. We spent the afternoon at our hotel. Rhett just wanted to relax and sit by the pool. He also wanted a steak so we went to Logans for dinner. Airmen normally receive town passes on Saturday as well and many of them visit the Riverwalk and Sea World. (Graduating airmen and their families get free admission to Sea World). We spent Saturday afternoon at the Riverwalk and the evening at the San Antonio Spurs basketball game. Another word to the wise-if you go during basketball season someone from the Spurs comes to the base and sell you "special" military tickets. Don't spend too much money-THE SEATS SUCK! My husband spent way too much on the tickets thinking we would have good seats and they were awful-nose bleed section. We were really disappointed (but happy to be with our son).


Facebook has groups that are specifically designed to help new Air Force families get through the long weeks of basic training. The two that I found were most helpful were Air Force Wing Moms and Air Force Basic Military Training.

Air Force Wing Moms is a totally awesome group of individuals who are more than happy to answer any questions you have regarding BMTS. Their wall provides a ton of information regarding everything and anything you may want to know about basic training and traveling to San Antonio during graduation week. Air Force Wing Moms also sets up flight specific pages where you can communicate with the families of the members of your son's or daughter's flight.

The Air Force Basic Military Training wall is another great way to get information about your airman and your airman's flight. They post pictures of your airman during BMTS-usually by their 4th or 5th week of training. I was so thankful for the pictures they posted of my son when he was gone. It eased my mind to see that he was happy and well taken care of.

Good Luck

Air Force Basic Training is a stressful time for the loved ones of the individuals who have made the honorable choice to serve their country. If you have a loved one who has just left or is leaving for Lackland Air Force Base it may seem like the 8.5 weeks of BMT drags on and on and last forever. If I've just described you keep your chin up, graduation week will be here before you know it and the pride you will feel when you see your Airman in his/her dress blues for the first time will erase all of the anxiety you felt during the previous 8.5 weeks.

I hope you find this hub helpful. Don't hesitate to leave a comment or ask a question. Oh-if you are planning to go to San Antonio I highly recommend you stay at the Microtel Inn and Suites. It is located between Lackland AFB and Sea World in a really nice part of town. The rooms and service are great-and you can't beat the price.

Comments 103 comments

kn 4 years ago

Thanks for the information. Found it very helpful. Only wished I had checked out some of these sites prior to my son leaving for BMT.

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

My son is in tech school now and it seems like BMT is just a memory. It may not seem like it but you will get through it. Keep your chin up!!

Ashley Thomas 4 years ago

Thanks for the help . It's my husband and it's only Ben four days. I'm only 18 . It feels like he's ben gone for ever . You made me feel a lot better though THANKS !

writinglover profile image

writinglover 4 years ago from Lost...In Poetry

Thanks for this. I'm trying to enlist for the Air Force and, right now, they are stalled on a medical review for me. I was kind of worried about how I would be able to reach my parents once I got to BMT, but now I won't.

Jan Pauly 3 years ago

Thank you so much for this info! It's good to know I'm not the only one that has gone/is going through this. And that I'm not 'crazy' for feeling like this! I got that 'first phone call' last night! I didn't cry while I was on the phone with him, but sure did after we hung up! The hardest part of being a parent, for me anyway, is having to let go!

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I know exactly how you feel. When I dropped my son off at the airport I cried the entire way home. The anxiety I felt while he was gone made me physically exhausted. His calls home were such a gift I still cherish them. I promise you that when you visit the base for graduation and see your son for the first time running past you in the airman's run all of the anxiety and fear you have felt for the 8.5 weeks will disappear instantly and be replaced by excitement. When you get to tap him out and hug him for the first time it will all be worth it. Be strong and understand that you aren't alone-you can always post on this hub anytime.

Linda 3 years ago

My husband is at Lackland and I plan to go to his graduation, if everything goes well with the birth of our son. I'm due 2 weeks before the graduation, so this will be the first time my husband sees our baby. Any advice for a new mom/new AF wife going to the graduation;


drkshados profile image

drkshados 3 years ago

My son want to join soon and I have been reading everything I can. I have to say that there is a lot of information to read. Many horror stories along with the inspirational ones online. There is a few questions (on other forms) that I haven't gotten an answer to and thought you may have some insight.

My question is in regards to graduation. If I/ we can't come to our sons graduation. I hear that they have to be tapped out or can't leave the field. I find this sad that its like they are punished by standing because they have no family there. Are the airmen without family able to go on pass? I've tried to find this out in various places but have't been able to get an answer. I know there are videos that we can purchase.

I appreciate the time you have taken to help with our questions and give us your insight.

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Linda I would just make sure that I have my room reservations and base passes taken care of well before I go to San Antonio. I would also recommend having a GPS of some sort-getting around town can be confusing but there are turn around lanes at just about every ramp.

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

drkshados-don't worry-your airman will be allowed to leave the field even if he isn't tapped out. They just let the families that are there have the privaledge of getting their airman. Tapping out isn't a requirement-just a perk. Also if you join one of the facebook pages that I mentioned in the article one of the families in your airman's unit may tap them out for you. Not all families can make it to San Antonio but trust me all of the families that go will be happy to help you out in any way they can. Everyone gets a base pass and a weekend pass-many times another airman's family will adopt one of the airmen who doesn't have family there. Also-there are A LOT of families that can't go so many times the airmen just go on town pass and base pass together. Graduation week is designed to be fun for both the airmen and their families-if you have any questions feel free to post them here. Also when my husband and I were in basic training there was no graduation week-we just got a town pass on the Saturday before we left the base-no families allowed.

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I'm glad I could help. I know how you feel too-on both sides of the coin. As an airman myself I had a lot of questions and worries before I left for Lackland. As a parent my concerns were magnified 1000%.

drkshados profile image

drkshados 3 years ago

Thank you for your service & getting back to me so quickly :) I am relieved by your reply. My son just laughs and doesn't see the big deal if we can't make it. He said he'd rather us visit him when he is stationed somewhere. My husband served 3 yrs in Vietnam on PBR's and is 100% disabled. So my view of the military is bitter sweet. His information is totally different since it was Navy and in the 60's. My son is still in college and is graduating this summer or fall and intends to enlist after that. I have been reading so much lately to prepare myself and find out everything I can. I'm sure I will post here again with more questions LOL

L4mykids 3 years ago

I have to know, how did you get these pictures of your son? Do they get pictures of them during Basic?

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

The pictures are taken when they are in training. They were posted on facebook at around the 4th or 5th week. If you join AF Wingmoms on facebook you can see your recruits pics when they are posted.

ashwinkumarkv profile image

ashwinkumarkv 3 years ago from Karnataka, India

Nice information! There would be lot of people waiting to know more about this, and you have given them what they want :) Voted as useful!

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thanks so much for your comment

Jan Pauly 3 years ago

You were absolutely right mikicagle! My son graduated on the 15th of March.... it was AMAZING! All the anxiety I felt the whole time he was in Basic is GONE! He's in tech school now and I can talk to him every night if I want.... He's still a long way away, but I know that he's safe and that he can do ANYTHING he puts his mind to! After Basic, anything is possible! Thanks again for this info! Oh, and AF Wingmoms is a life saver! Thanks for pointing the way to them! I got to know many of the other parents in my son's squadron. It was awesome meeting them at graduation!

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I am so glad you had a positive time at graduation, it is an experience that only a few of us are lucky enough to experience. I wish you and your son much love and success in the upcoming years.

tracypoole 3 years ago

I am sick with grief. My daughter has only been there for 4 days and we received the phone call. We read on several sites to let the first call go to voice mail because they will be speaking to fast and it will be hard to understand them. We did at her request and it was probable the hardest thing to listen to. She sounded to stressed and sad. It broke my heart. I am not feeling very confident about this decision to let her join the Air Force. I worry they will push her to far and she will not survive. Please tell me when she will start feeling more confidence and less scared.

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I am so sad for you because I know exactly feel. I know it doesn't help when I tell you that it will get better-but it does. I know from experience what she is going through-I was there myself years ago. The environment is totally different than anywhere she has been before and it takes a little time to get used to it. But I promise you she will get used to it. She is in a flight with over 40 other girls who are experiencing the same thing and they will pull together and be there for each other. Right now it seems like nothing she does is right-and everyone is yelling at her, but she isn't alone. I guarantee that after she has been there a few more days she will feel more confident. She just doesn't know what to expect yet-and once she does she will be fine. Her decision to join the Air Force is a positive one that will help her grow into being a great woman. Think about all she has done already. She left home where she was secure and jumped into a completely unknown environment-talk about brave!! Trust me when I say to you that they are going to keep her so busy she won't have time to be sad. As a person who has been on both ends of basic training as an airman and as the parent of an airman-being the parent is definitely worse! As moms it's natural to want to jump in and protect our children-it goes against our nature to allow our children to be uncomfortable. But she needs this time now so she can see all of the great things she is capable of doing and being. I promise you it will get better-if you need someone to vent to please feel free to email me-my information is on my page. Stay strong-Love you Mom!!

Laurie1212 3 years ago

I am so glad I found this page. My son left last night for Basic Training at Lackland AFB, and I can't stop crying. I know I have nothing to worry about, I just didn't think it would be so tramatic. Any encouraging words of advice for this Mom?

Marie 3 years ago

Hi, just read so many comments and feel better knowing that my feelings are the same as many other moms. Thank you so much for this site. I do have one question, my son will be graduating in July and I am looking into booking a flight. If my sons graduation parade is Friday, and he has sat & Sun. to spend time with family but has to be back at dorm by 6:00 on Sun. Is that the last time we get to see him. What happens Monday?

YoungWife profile image

YoungWife 3 years ago from Hayden, Idaho

I really enjoyed this, thank you. My husband left May 14, 13 for BMT to join the Air Force. He's been my best friend since I was 12 (for 10 years) and my husband for nearly 3 years, we have a 9 month old son and we have hardly spent any time appart. This has been such a hard transition for me, and he's never been one for writing of any kind so his letters are small and straight to the point. So I really was glad to hear about what he is going through so I know how to be the most supportive. Thank you so very much.

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Laurie1212 I promise it gets easier. He will be able to call home more and when you see his pictures on the Facebook page you will relax. Make sure to copy those pics to your computer you will look at them often and share them with all your friends and family. Marie you have to have them back by six on Sunday so they can finish packing. Most of them ship out to their tech schools first thing Monday morning. A few will leave Sunday night. Young wife I met my husband of 25 years while in tech school in Buloxi. We dated 3 weeks, got engaged, then I got shipped off to Tyndall AFB in Florida. We saw each other every other week, got married CHristmas eve, were together for 2 weeks then he got shipped to Oklahoma. I wasn't supposed to see him for three months but he was able to get a transfer and surprised me two weeks later. Cherish all the time you get with him and be ready for the surprises, there will be many!

Irma 3 years ago

Son arrived in Lackland last Tuesday evening and we heard from him Wednesday around 4PM with his address and that he made it to basics safely. We figured we would hear from him today(Sunday) but no call,today. When will we hear from him again ? What days of the week do they call?

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

The first weekend was disappointing for us as well. The airmen's calls usually come on Sundays. As long as the flight is making progress he should call next week, but it depends on the training instructor. I know it is hard but I promise-he is ok. He is so busy right now he doesn't have time to think of anything but sleeping. I'm sure he's homesick but he's got almost a whole week done already! Stay strong

Elyana 3 years ago

how do i know what week group my cousin is in? the facebook page that posts pictures has them labeled by week group and i don't know how to find that?

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I am so sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. I am not sure how you determine what week he is in, I just kept checking the pictures everyday searching for my sons face. When I finally saw him I was so excited all I could do was cry and search through all the pic looking for more of him. I hope you see your loved one soon.

Christine 3 years ago

Thank you for this. My son leaves for BMT in 3 weeks and I'm already trying not to cry every time we hug. Just knowing I might be able to see photos of him during his training is wonderful; loved seeing the ones of your son!

Jamey 2 years ago

My daughter left for BMT on Monday...Have NOT heard one word since she landed in San Antonio... Not one word...Today is Thanksgiving was hoping to hear something...ANYTHING =*( snif!!!

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

You will soon. I promise.

Tara 2 years ago

Hi. What FB page

Posts pics and I was wondering how you got all of those pics of your son in training? They are awesome. My son is there on week 3

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

The pictures were posted on AF Wingmoms on Facebook. I love having the pictures and I am sure that when my son has children someday they will be very proud of their dad.

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PDXBuys 2 years ago from Oregon

Congratulations to your son. I joined the USAF and went through BT at Lackland AFB in 1985. I remember it well. Unfortunately, no one could visit me or attend graduation. Steak dinners, lounging by a hotel pool, and a Spurs game? Wow, your son was very fortunate to be able to do all those things! Not even a cell phone when I was there... I wish him the best. Serving in the USAF was a rewarding experience for me. I spent two years in England and met a wonderful young woman there.

Cynthia Cabrera 2 years ago

My son just left on 1/14/14. It was so hard and I mean really HARD to see my son leave. This information was very helpful to me. Now I can get a picture of what he will be doing. I will be looking for those pages on facebook. Hopefully I can see pictures of my son too. I am so proud of my boy!!!

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mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

PDXBuys I went through BMTS in 1986. Going back to Lackland was surreal for me-I seem to remember it being much larger when I was there! Things have definitely changed. I met my husband at Keesler AFB in Buloxi while we were both attending tech school. We have been married for 26 years. My son is a 4th generation airman, his great grandfather, grandfather, father and mother were all in. We are very proud of him.

mdjcklprm 2 years ago

My son just left. He gave me this website.. Thank God.. I know he'll do fine and we'll see him in a few weeks for graduation... but those few weeks are going to be sooooo sad... thanks for the helpful words.

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mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I am so happy your son directed you to my page. My goal for this hub was to help others navigate through the confusing world of basic military training and your comment lets me know that the time I spent writing this was well spent. I appreciate the sacrifice you are making as a parent and appreciate your son's service. He is a special young man.

mdjcklprm 2 years ago

Dear Mikicagle,

Your page is so helpful. Just heard from my son yesterday. He sounds good. Better than me actually. He had prepared for this so much more than I thought he had... that is a great comfort to me. Gave me his address and his first letter is already in the mail. Do u happen to know how far in advance we should book a hotel to go for grad week? Can i count on grad week being about 8 weeks from now or should I wait until i receive info from him about graduation week before booking hotel? I cannot wait to see him then! Thanks again for your help.

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mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I would make sure I booked my room at least two weeks before his graduation. We stayed at the Microtel. It was close to Sea World and in a nice part of town. It was about 10 minutes from the base and we were really happy with our room. You should start hearing from your son on Sundays and he can tell you exactly when he is going to graduate.

KCMorgan 2 years ago

My husband left on 1/21 and this is the hardest thing I've ever gone through :( one of the girls on the Wingmoms page said she already got a letter. Its not fair :( honestly I never wanted him to join and I'm doing my best to support him but its so hard. :(

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

KC your husband is doing a good thing and you do need to support him because he needs it right now. Not everyone gets their letters at the same time and it is easy to be frustrated but you will get them soon. His choice to join the USAF to serve his country and support his family is an honorable one-you are lucky to have a man like him. Chin up buttercup! Come back to this hub a year from now, read your comment, and see if you feel the same way-betcha you will be so happy you won't know the girl who posted this comment.

Gertrude 2 years ago

I was hurting when my son left for the south african air force,he left on the 18th of january 2014 and I haven't heard from him since than but all I know is that he'll be back some time in july!!*sigh*:(:( I'm hurting soo much cause even they cellphones are confiscated don't have any idea why!,*crying*miss him!!

Kathy Fanelli 2 years ago

Thank you for the useful information. My son graduates 3-14 I'm looking forward to the reunion with our son . His letters reflect a boy being transformed into a young man. We are so proud of him and grateful to the air force which is an outstanding establishment .

RayandMelanie 2 years ago

Our son is leaving for basic in May 2014; we are very thankful for someone like you to take the time and effort to create this page and post all the helpful information. The VA should recognize your efforts! I am sure we will post more messages and have more questions as concerned loving parents, we are so proud of our son from Central Florida. God bless his flight and everyone in his squad!

millie 2 years ago

My son just left on May 5th and I am still waiting for a call or some kind of notice to inform me of his address. It is nerve racking. He will be gone for 4 months and not 8 wks though.

Tamie 2 years ago

I can't thank you enough for your thoughtfulness in putting together this site and the time you have taken to answer so many questions for those of us who are hurting and desperate for reassurance! My son left yesterday morning and we are still waiting for a call. It seems like every time I turn around I am in tears! I want to be strong for him but I fear that if he sounds discouraged I will fall apart myself. Is there anything I can I say to him that will encourage him at that moment?

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thanks to all of you for your kind words regarding my hub. It was a joy to write because I knew it would help parents get through the difficult process of assimilating to the culture of the military. Tamie-tell you son to focus on the finish line. Remind him that basic training doesn't last forever and it will be over before he knows it. Reassure him that his tech school is NOTHING like basic training-he won't have people watching him all of the time. It is more like being on a college campus (with rules ;)) My son had so much fun at his tech school. He and his buddies went to the local mall and purchased radio operated helicopters and had races up and down the hallway. I wish you well and hope your son makes an easy transition.

Tamie 2 years ago

I just wanted to reconnect with you and thank you for your help! My son called Friday at around 1:00 p.m. and, as it was, I was at work. He talked with his dad, who I'm sure held it together better than I would have, but he did ask for his "mom" :) According to my husband he sounded "pretty good" and said he didn't mind the marching because it made the time go fast. Thank you also for directing me to Air Force Wing Moms! We have joined the TRS Discussion Group for his flight and they have been loads of help! I'm feeling much better and can now focus on the exciting and promising future he has in front of him! My prayers go out to you and all you love! God Bless!

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mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thank you so much for the update. My son was able to call every Sunday after the 2nd week so I am sure you will get to talk to him soon. Air Force Wing Moms was a life saver for me. It helped me to know that I wasn't going through the experience alone. Look for photos of him in a few weeks-trust me when you see his pictures you will feel so MUCH better, to be able to see that he is OK and in some pictures even having fun will help your heart-trust me. I hope you get to go to San Antonio for his graduation-if you do I can't recommend the Microtel enough-it was a beautiful place an only minutes away from the base and everything you need. Sea World is just minutes away. Whatever you do don't use your GPS to try to find it, it will take you out into the boonies.

AHernandez 2 years ago

The information posted is so helpful and comforting. I did have a question regarding the BMT Reception Center and if you have any idea what the turn around time is when you email them for information regarding someone at the boot camp? Thanks!

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mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I'm not quite sure what the turn around time is. I know that you will receive a postcard within 3 or 4 days letting you know that your loved one is fine. It will also give you their address. Everyone at Lackland is very helpful and accommodating of families I'm sure it won't take you long to get the information you need. Good Luck. Focus on the finish line!!

Najia 2 years ago

Thank you so much for all the great information. Our son is in basic training right now. I was wondering after graduation, is our son allow to stay with us at the hotel overnight or do they have to go back to the base?

I have young children that also want to go to the graduation, are they allowed to go? I would appreciate any information. Thank you.

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mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

They aren't allowed to stay overnight. They have to be back on base by 9 or 10. Their TI can give them a later check in time if he wants to. The graduation isn't terribly formal so everyone is allowed to attend. Seating is in the bleachers so if the little ones run around that is ok. The weekend is really family oriented everyone will have a good time. There isn't much to do on base the first day so you pretty much will go to the commissary and maybe the movies. A lot of people eat lunch at the Godfather's pizza on base.

Angie 2 years ago

I am going to my sons graduation next week! Yay! But we finally closed on a new house and have moved since he has been gone! The problem is that his girlfriend has received her base pass but I have not!!! Who do I need to contact to ensure I can get or find my pass ??? All help with this is much appreciated in advance !!

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mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Here is a link to the procedures from the bases webpage:

From what I read you need to contact your son to get your pass issue resolved. He has to fill out a form to request the passes for you. I believe that if he can't get them to you by mail in time he can leave them at the front gate. I hope this helps.

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mikicagle 2 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Yep, I just looked it up and here is the actual procedure:

Note: If you do not receive a Visitor Access Pass prior to arriving at Lackland, you will be required to visit the Luke East Visitor Center upon arrival (Open 24-hours daily). The BMT Reception Center cannot verify guest lists or visitor pass issuance. You may check with your trainee during an authorized telephone call on the status of your pass(s).

Security Forces will not process VARL's past the end of the trainees 3rd week of training. If your trainee submits a late VARL, we cannot guarantee that passes will be ready or available for your Airman's graduation. If passes are not ready, visitors may have to wait until after the Airman's Coin and Retreat Ceremony is over before the Airman may go to the Visitor Center to sponsor visitors on base.

Note: Sponsoring means your Airman vouches for you to enter the installation and assumes responsibility for your actions while on base.

ljbmeg 22 months ago

Thank you so much for this blog. I have been visiting it regularly. I have just received my son's grad date and he indicated we should arrive the Wednesday before which aligns with your entry. But the hotels seem to not be refundable if you get a better rate, what are the chances of his graduation date not occurring? Do you have any suggestions here? Should we just go and book at the higher rate just in case or take our chances with the lower rate? Thanks for any thoughts you have on this. I am just asking, and I realize you are not a travel agent, but I thought you might have experienced this as well. Lorna

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mikicagle 22 months ago from Oklahoma Author

The only way his grad date would change is if he got "washed back" or had to repeat a previous week or weeks of training. It rarely happens and your son would have to do something incredibly wrong to have this happen. You know your son-is he the type to do something reckless? If not I would go ahead and book the hotel.

Alicia A 21 months ago

Thank you soooo much for all youe information. We said our goodbyes to our son yesterday as he headed off to Lackland AFB. Ive never cried so much. Lol! Im so very proud of him!!!

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mikicagle 21 months ago from Oklahoma Author

I am glad you found this helpful. Don't worry the time will go by quickly.

ashleycw 21 months ago

My best friend ships out on Tuesday on a last minute assignment. It has been very stressful with the unknown. I am glad I came across your website as it has put me at ease a little bit. Hoping everything goes smoothly. Thank you for all your advice!

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mikicagle 21 months ago from Oklahoma Author

You are so very welcome. I wish you all good luck.

T Gregory 21 months ago

Thanks for making this site. My son just got his date and is due to leave March 10th and since its still lil early we don't have much information coming our way yet, so this site really helps. Lil anxious but know this is a dream he has and am just placing him in Gods hands. No mother likes to think of the rough/tough things that they are going to intentionally do to your child to push them to the limits but will admit that I am anxious for him to learn how to fold and organize his clothes :)

We have a lot of similarities. My husband was in the AF in the 80s (later 80s), we just had our 25th anniversary and also have two children around the same age with the youngest being 19 and the new recruit. Did you happen to ever be stationed at FE Warren between 1989-1993?

Tanya 21 months ago

Thank you so much for this site!!! The first phone call happened just as this site said it would..called the next day and only had 5mins to give address and that he was there safe..he was talking so fast but I didn't care...held on to every word...don't think I have felt so much joy and overwhelming feelings in a long time...thanks again.. #finallyfeelingpeaceful

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mikicagle 21 months ago from Oklahoma Author

T Gregory-I was stationed at Keesler in Mississippi and Tyndall in Florida. The time I spent in the AF were some of the best of my life. Your son is in for an incredible journey and have the right to be very proud of him.

Tanya I am glad you got your call. I know I felt a lot better once I heard from my son. Keep checking back with AF Wingmom's on Facebook and before you know it you will see pictures of him during training. I was so excited when I saw my son's pictures-and it helped me see that he was doing just fine.

Sandy 21 months ago

My dear son Trevor left this past monday it has been him and I for 11 yrs I miss him so much and work at State Farm Just started trying to study for my final exam to be an agent my mind is crazy I really have no one I am so sad

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mikicagle 21 months ago from Oklahoma Author

Oh no Sandy. I feel so bad for you. It would help him so much if you would write him as much as you can, I know from experience how much it is appreciated. Write him everyday if you want to-you should start hearing back from him in a short time. Go to FB and join the AF Wingmom's page-it does help talking to others who are going through the same thing you are.

gary 21 months ago

My son Jacob left Tuesday for his BMT. He got a call from his recruiter on Friday morning telling him he will be leaving within 2 months. That afternoon as we sat in car his recruiter called and said that he will be leaving that Tuesday, if he was ready. His first concern was for me "dad, you going to be OK" of course I said yes and it was time for him to accept lives challenges. He moved in with me 5 years ago and haven't gone a day without seeing each other or a phone call. I know it sounds weird but he was and is my best friend, but he always has respect for the line of me being his parent. As a dad I felt I should be the strong one and that my emotions would and should be in check, but find myself a I hope it does get easier for him, because that first phone call was such a heartbreaker. The last words before leaving was "I got this". But the phone call was as confident, with him saying he was a little homesick. Its comforting to know that he will be better and I'm so thankful to have found your sight.

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 21 months ago from Oklahoma Author

Thank you for your kind words Gary. It sounds like Jacob is turning out to be a good man and the credit goes to your for raising him. It's ok to be a mess when your son is in basic. It's hard on everyone. The good thing is that it isn't forever and before you know it you will be at his graduation ceremony.

gary 21 months ago

Your welcome, but the thankfulness is all mine. After the recruits finish BMT do they get leave time to come home or do they go right to there tech school? He was under the impression that he would get a week or two to come home.

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mikicagle 21 months ago from Oklahoma Author

No, he will go straight to his tech school. The good thing about that though is you can visit him.

Tia 20 months ago

What week are the airmen able to write and receive letters in BMT?

Elaina 20 months ago

Thank you for this useful information, my airman (boyfriend) just left and I wonder what goes on for him and some information which I felt you basically covered, making me more reassured everything will be fine! Thank you again!

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 20 months ago from Oklahoma Author

Tia you can write your airman any time. He will get the letters eventually. Thank you Elaina for your kind words.

Becky 20 months ago

Thank you so much for your website. It has been extremely helpful and encouraging. My son left last week and it's been harder than I thought to have him gone. The hardest part is not being able to communicate except by letters, but I pray for him every day and know he is in God's hands. Really looking forward to graduation and seeing him again. Thanks again and God bless you!

Aflores 20 months ago

Very useful info thank you. Can anyone tell me what time the coin ceremony begins?

Vnash 15 months ago

I can't begin to explain to you how much of a gift this information is to my husband and I!! Thank you! Really...thank you!

Maria 14 months ago

As a fellow veteran, I also thought that I'd be okay when our daughter left for BMT. This experience has been tougher than I could have ever imagined! I want to let you know how much I've appreciated your article. It's good to know that I'm not the only person that is experiencing these sad emotions. God bless you, the new troops and all of our military families. God bless our beautiful nation!

Madelyne 12 months ago

Thank you so much for this blog. My husband is leaving for basic training at the end of this month. It's been a little emotional for me because I am 23 weeks pregnant and will be about 35 weeks when he graduates. He will be in technical school when our daughter is born, and for the first few weeks of her life. I know many people have had it worse and that's the life of the military but I'm still very anxious and heartbroken. Your page helped me feel a little bit better about what he's doing and I know it will be good for our family in the long run.

Kimberly 11 months ago

Oh my goodness,

Thank you for the information. My Son is in the process of enlisting. He goes for his physical next week, it will be March before he leaves. Reading through all this information, there are many tears. I can't seem to stop them these days. It is all pretty overwhelming, there is a lot of pride involved, and a lot of it is just being a Mom, and this is my only Child.

I have watched many videos and I am thankful for people like you, willing to share and help prepare us Moms :)

mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 11 months ago from Oklahoma Author

I am so grateful that you all find this article helpful. The experience of your loved one leaving for basic training can be traumatic, and writing this article really helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank all of you for the sacrifices your families are making for our country.

Emily de Luna 10 months ago

Hello! I read your article.

I'm worried. I'm just his girlfriend. But I haven't heard anything yet from him. And I'm assuming his father got the mailing address, but I'm not in contact with him.

I emailed the base; I'm really hoping they'll get back to me in a timely manner as my issue is time sensitive.

I want to go to his graduation. But I haven't given him any information ( like drivers license info) and he hasn't called. How will he be able to send me the visitors access pass?

Mimi 8 months ago


My younger brother just graduated from BMT. Those 8.5 weeks were very tough because my family and I missed him dearly, especially during the holidays. Right now I am worried because I thought seeing him during graduation would make it all better but it didn't. If anything I am very worried about him because it seems like he's extremely homesick. Most of our trip consisted of knots in our throwts & tears. I am concerned about his emotional well being. I don't want him to be sad because it's breaking my heart. Does anybody else relate to my situation? Did your airman look sad during graduation week?

Mimi, a worried sister

Mimi 8 months ago


mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 8 months ago from Oklahoma Author

Emily I am sorry I didn't get back to you earlier and I hope that you had your issues with travel resolved.

Mimi-graduation is usually a joyful event filled with fun and anticipation of the next step in an airman's career. How does your brother feel? I know being homesick is a normal reaction to being away, but he will be able to take leave and visit as soon as his tech school is over. If his feelings become overwhelming he needs to speak with someone. He needs to be proud of himself for getting through basic training, but honestly the military isn't for everyone. If he feels emotionally stressed there are avenues he can use to help with his feelings. Have him speak to a chaplain-that may help and he will be able to point your brother in the right direction.

Mimi 8 months ago


When we were with him he'd randomly start crying and we would ask him what was wrong and he'd say he misses us and doesn't want to be away from us. Just the look of sadness in his eyes was very hard for us to see because we were expecting him to show a little more happiness. Him bursting into tears didn't express happiness. I feel so helpless because I'm not sure if hes emotionally stressed or just really really homesick. That's why I wanted to ask if this is normal or if anybody has been in this same situation. I will suggest him to speak to a chaplain.

Mimi 8 months ago

Another thing i forgot to add is, what if it is one of those situations where they realize it's not for them. What are ways to help him cope with it? He didn't say anything like that but he said he just really misses us... Hopefully hes just homesick.

Lisa 8 months ago

Thank you so much for this site!! My daughter "only child" leaves next week. I can't stop crying!! I'm so happy for her because its been a dream for her and she is so excite going. But, I can't think about it without bursting into tears. I don't know how I'm going to say my goodbyes next week!! Your site has helped me because as a mom "you know" I want to know what she is doing every minute of everyday and that she is safe. I'm sure I will be coming back to the site just to refresh on what's going on in a particular week. Also, Mimi I'm so sorry to hear that your brother is sad. I hope as he goes through the next stage of his career things get better. My daughter regretting her decision is my biggest fear. Mommy could always bail her out but not this time. I just prayer it all goes well.

Thank you again for sharing your time and information.

Mikki 5 months ago

Thank you.

Robyn 4 months ago

Thank you! My husband and I are also veterans and were at Basic in the 80's. Our daughter leaves this August.

Rurallife 3 months ago

Big correction needed. Week SEVEN is grad week, not week eight. Hate to make reservations, miss graduation, and not see your son/daughter.

Dariana 3 months ago

I have a sister who is currently in BMT and i was wondering how long it takes her to recieve my cards

Kara 3 months ago

My daughter just entered basic training and I got her first phone call which broke my heart. All the websites say its 8.5 weeks but her graduation date is just a little over 7 weeks from when she went in. Has it changed?

Lori 2 months ago

Great information. I am wondering if airmen can receive anything other than letters during basic. Thanks

Renee Meyer 2 months ago

How did you get all those pictures of your son while he was in bmt?

Joris Reyes 2 months ago

I really appreciate very much to stay together as a great and valuable team of Airmen parents who fully support our children. But I think it is strong for them and for us too. It is important to be able to communicate with each other and wait with courage and pride these long weeks.

Keep our faith together at this time is essential for a successful achievement in our future Airmen, who by his own decision wanted to be a best man and be a part of this great Team of this wonderful country.

Let's move forward and from our hearts supporting them and give them the necessary forces.

Thanks for listening, my son have 8 days and have been very long and stressful for us.

God bless you all!

Julie Reid 2 months ago

Thank you so much for this it's so useful. I am in the uk my daughter has dual nationality and is hoping to join USAF. The pages you have recommended look great for info and I will join Facebook pages too. Thank you again.

N Reid 8 weeks ago

Thank you for this, my son leaves home today and I thought it was going to be easy! Thanks for sharing this has been informative I will definitely look at the two Facebook pages you recommended. Can they receive care packets while at BMT? God bless you!

Angie Garia 7 weeks ago

Thank you for the most helpful information. My son's graduation will be taking place in September. We have a concern regarding minors (under 18) being able to attend the ceremonies. Do you know of any age restrictions?

Jody Guthrie 6 weeks ago

Preparing......MYSELF.....omg its so hard..... to believe this time has come. My baby is now beginning his life journey, and I am having a terrible time letting him go!! I know they are only ours for a little while, but gees..... lol.

So proud of my son. He is determined and willing and accepting.... I am proud, joyful and sad....only tears of happiness though. Just hard to know he will not be right here and I am going to run into him somewhere or Hey you wanna go out? Or hey, come over and help me with something...time has flown by.....!!

Peggy Vanderheiden 3 weeks ago

I really appreciate all of this information. My son, Joseph, leaves here in just a couple of days, and I am catching myself crying at any point in the day, thinking of him when he was just a little guy. He is my first child to join the military, and I have no idea what I am doing! I don't want to miss a thing! I will probably read this a hundred times over! And thank you for the facebook pages, I will be visiting often!

DB 2 weeks ago

Hi, my boyfriend leaves for basic training Tuesday and I'm really sad. All I wanna do is cry but I'm trying to be supportive of him as well, 1) how can I make the time he's in basic training fly by and 2) how can I make convey my love and support to him while he's gone?

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