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A Woman's Guide to Surviving Air Force Basic Training

I am a former veteran of the Air Force who is now a mother of two.

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Basic Training Tips for Women

This is for the women out there that are going into the Air Force. Basic training can be difficult but there are some things you can do to make it easier.

How to Prepare and Train for Basic Training

  • Months in advance, start running and doing push-ups and sit-ups. You want to be able to do at least 20 push-ups and 30 sit-ups and be able to run a mile without too much effort. If you don't, basic training will be a lot more difficult as you run for 30 minutes at a time, sometimes sprinting for at least a minute. You will constantly be doing push-ups as a punishment for anyone in your flight doing anything wrong. There is physical training every day unless there is a thunderstorm.
  • Get yourself mentally prepared by doing as much research as possible. There are many videos out there to help you. They will show what it is like.
  • You will also want to learn to be organized. Your locker will have everything in its specific place, folded in a certain way, buttoned a certain way, which will all be taught when you get there.
  • Cut all sodas and juices out of your diet. Have you ever heard someone yell, "hydrate"? You will at basic. They have a water monitor in some flights that every once in a while will yell that and you all have to drink from your canteen. At meals, you have to down a small glass of water, drink another while you eat, and then down another after you're done. There's a ton of water and it's better if you already know how to drink nothing but water.
  • Learn to eat fast. You have very little time. Some people in my flight resorted to eating small packets of peanut butter as that was all they had time for. You have to stuff your mouth very quickly and a lot of the time you will go hungry because you didn't eat enough. Your stomach will shrink by the time you are done with basic.

What to Do Right Before You Leave for Basic Training

  • A lot of women ignored this next bit of advice but later regretted it. Before I went to basic, I asked my mom and aunt who were both in the military what they would have done differently. Without skipping a beat, they both said that they wished they had cut their hair. So I cut my hair short. I am glad I did. Girls spent sometimes hours at night getting their hair put up correctly and perfectly. You have very little time to shower and get dressed, so it's nice to not have to worry about your hair. I got some valuable sleep while they fixed their hair.
  • Get a list of what to bring. There are no aerosol cans allowed. Some lists tell you to bring the spray deodorant. You will end up just throwing it out. There are no weapons allowed and most medication is not allowed. No Tylenol, Motrin, or things like that. Birth control is allowed but you will most likely forget to take it. If you get sick, they will send you to the clinic and you will get medication from them.
  • Prepare your family for a shocking phone call. Have them hold a piece of paper and pencil by the phone and expect a rude call from you. We were told to tell our parents, "Shut up and listen." Let them know that you don't mean it before you go to basic so that you feel OK to tell them that at basic. I was terrified to have to tell my stepmom that.
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This Is How I Cut My Hair

For those that were wondering, this was taken right before basic.

For those that were wondering, this was taken right before basic.

How Basic Training Works

  • You arrive in your civilian clothes. If you have a shirt on that says anything on it, they will make you turn it inside out, so bring plain shirts. It will be a few days before you will get uniforms. These first few days are the roughest because you will constantly be yelled at for not doing things you are supposed to but didn't know you needed to.
  • Keep quiet and don't make yourself known. If you stand out, you will get a nickname and be picked on for the remainder of basic training.
  • It's best if you get a watch with an alarm when you are sent to the store. Every morning you wake up and have very little time to get dressed. I set an alarm for 10 minutes earlier. It gave me enough time to use the restroom, get dressed, and even start making my bed. You will head downstairs and do roll call. After that, you will go back upstairs and make your bed. You are supposed to be doing this with your partner. However, most come to realize that it is best if you learn to do it yourself as you tend to get into trouble for them not paying enough attention.
  • Double and triple check everything.
  • The rest of the day consists of the meals, physical training, and training on learning how to make beds or fold something. It can also be learning military bearing and things that you will have to know throughout your military career.
  • About the second or third week, you will be taken in to do a urine sample in which they will test to see if you are pregnant. We had two girls sent home because they were. Don't get pregnant if you are going into basic. Otherwise, you endured three weeks of hell just to be sent back home.
  • There will be shots and yes, there are multiple ones at a time. You stand in a line and get a shot in each arm at a time. You also get the lovely penicillin shot (unless you're allergic) in your bottom and it hurts, trust me, it hurts. It had some men crying.
  • Do not talk to your brother flight. There were many females that were sent back a week or two just for flirting with some of the brother flight.
  • You will be a trainee until you go through the Airman's ceremony. You will have to report like this, "Ma'am/Sir, trainee (your last name) reports as ordered." You have to say that before you say a word other than "Yes Ma'am" or "No sir." You will get the hang of it.
  • There is a warrior week. It can be fun as this is when you will get to fire your weapon. It is also where you will eat the MREs (meal ready to eat) which do have candy in them. You are not allowed to have the coffee that comes in some of them. This is an outdoor thing. You will shower in sand-filled showers after you go through the courses. You will get very dirty as you will be doing low crawls in dirt and other things. It can be exhausting because you run in your uniform a lot and do a lot of physical activities.
  • This is also when you will go into the gas chamber and take off your mask. It isn't all that bad. It will sting and be hard to breathe. People's noses will run and some even slobber.
  • After you survive warrior week, you will then go through another week or two of basic before your Airman's ceremony. You will first have the Airman's run. Now they say it is only 2.5 miles but afterwards, they informed us that it was 3.5 miles. Be prepared for it as you all run at the pace of the flight in front of you.
  • The Airman's ceremony is special. You will get your first coin. From that point on, you wear your blues and are treated differently. Don't get too comfortable because there is still a big chance of getting yelled at. Graduation isn't that far off from that point.

I wish you the best. Basic training will be hard but take each day one step at a time. If I can survive it, you can. Just remember one thing, you will be living with about 40 females. Keep your mouth shut or there will be a lot more stress than you need. Girls can be vicious and you don't want to get on the wrong side of one. I had someone untie and re-lace my shoes incorrectly so that I got into trouble. Try not to cause problems.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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