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Advice for New Soldiers Joining the Army: How to Make it Through Basic Training

I am a mother of two, an EMT, a paramedic student, a freelance writer, a veteran, and so much more.

Most people, like me, want to know what to expect when they leave for basic training. I did as much research as I could about personal experiences before I left for the Army. For me, the thought was not IF I could make it through. I knew I would MAKE it. The question for me was how EASY was it going to be. Because I did my research, I was prepared. I actually ended up having the best time of my life while training. I followed certain principles that made my day to day life simpler. These principles also helped me keep the most positive attitude out of everyone.



1. The most important thing for you to remember is that it is all a game. Do not take anything personally. The entire concept of basic training is to mess with your head. If you go in knowing this, the chances of it happening are less.

2. You need to realize that nothing you do will be good enough. If you are told to do something and you do it perfectly, it doesn't matter. You will still get yelled at and "smoked." (e.g. physical pain from exercise)

3. Do not do anything that will likely put a target on your back. This includes bringing things with you that are unnecessary, being completely out of shape, or even showing your personality. You want to blend in as much as possible.

4. Remember that the Army is very group-oriented. Even if you are the perfect soldier and do everything asked of you and more, you will get yelled at and you will get punished. This is because you are responsible for everything your fellow soldiers do as well. Someone will ALWAYS do something wrong. Don't even bother getting mad at this person. Because, at some point in time, you will be that person.

5.Make sure you say Drill Sergeant after everything you say to them, everything! If you don't, they will go into this big rant about how they are not your friend.

6. Do not be late. In fact, do not even be on time. Be early for everything! Also, do everything you can to make sure your "Battle Buddies" are early.

7. Do not expect to get in shape once you get to basic training. The moment you arrive, you will have physical challenges. Everything sucks a lot more when you are in pain. Start running and some weight training before you leave.

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8. Don't assume you are in great shape. You would be shocked at the kinds of things that make your body hurt. Clapping your hands above your head doesn't look hard until you have been doing it for an hour. Then, it hurts a lot!

9. Have confidence in yourself. Whether you are right or wrong doesn't matter. Act like you are sure of every answer you give. This sounds stupid but it actually gives you a little more credibility and a little less hassle.

10. Do not go anywhere alone. Always have your "Battle Buddy" present. If not, you will get a long lecture, accompanied by push-ups and sprints about needing your Battle Buddy.

11. Do not eat the "fatty cakes" in the dining facility. These are there to tempt you and to yell at you try to eat it. (fatty cakes = cookies, cakes, donuts, muffins, etc.)

12. Find humor in anything you can. But, DO NOT let anyone see you doing this!

13. If you are a female, forget you are a female. Don't try to look cute, don't talk girly and for God's sake, do not flirt! If you are a male, never refer to the other gender as anything other than females or soldiers. They are not girls, ladies, chicks or anything else like that.

14. Most importantly, remember that the Drill Sergeants are people too. They still eat, sleep and poop. No matter how intimidating they act, it is just an act. I actually got in touch with my Drill Sergeant after I got out of the Army and realized he was one of the coolest people I had met. I am not saying to try to be their friend while you are in basic training. I am telling you that your drill sergeant is typically not the big bad wolf you think he or she is.

The best thing, in general, that will make Army Basic Training better is to expect the worse. I went into training thinking it was going to be hell, it ended up being a cakewalk.

One last tip on making your Army career as easy as possible; start working on getting promoted as soon as you can.

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.

© 2012 Megan Garcia

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