Basic Training Blues

When a loved one enlists and gets shipped off to boot camp and eventual deployment, it’s hard on everyone. Here are some ways families and significant others can cope.

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In May, thousands of people will get ready to say goodbye as their loved ones march off to basic training.

Maddy Oliver, Staff Writer

For years, families and loved ones have been separated because of the military, which creates a profound and definite sense of loss. In May, thousands of individuals and families, including myself, will be having someone leave for the military. Being new to this community, I truly wanted to find some insight and help on how to deal with the separation from my beloved.

Here at Round Lake High School, our very own athletic trainer Larry Scire, had been through the experience of having to leave his family. Scire enlisted in the military in 1971, and fought for our country in the Vietnam War. Times have obviously changed since Scire was in service, but the emotions he went through are still relevant and can relate to our soldiers and their loved ones today. Generally a year after enlisting, soldiers go through one of the toughest parts of their military career:basic training.

“During basic training, communication was limited,” Scire said. “We got one phone call after about a few weeks, and that was to give them our mailing address. After that, we didn’t speak to anyone until we returned back home.” Today, soldiers still only get one very short phone call to give their family an address to send letters to.Other than that, they do not have contact with anyone outside of their training camp.

In a world where we can instantly get a hold of friends and family through texts, snaps, and other types of messaging on social media, it may seem pointless to send letters. But when your loved one is in the military, it is so important to keep up that communication―even if it is through snail mail. “When we receive stuff, it feels like Christmas,” Scire said about getting items from home. Beyond letters, sending cards, pictures, food, or smaller items can all help soldiers get through the everyday drudgery they face at camp.

Parents go through so much while they see their beloved son or daughter off to serve in the military. Scire had said that his parents had to understand a few things while he was away, “I was growing up, I was becoming a man. I was following in my father’s footsteps and doing something I wanted to do” he said.

While in this interview with Scire, I got really emotional. I started to think about how in just a few short months, these are the feelings my boyfriend will be going through. I started to understand more to how he was going to feel, and started to get an idea for what I had to do to be the best girlfriend possible in this tough portion of our relationship; but exactly what can I do to make sure I am one of his biggest supporters?

On the other end of this spectrum, there are the people at home who need to find ways to deal with their personal pain. Mothers, fathers, girlfriends, boyfriends and siblings all usually take the departure of a loved one the hardest. But how do we deal with this void we feel? What can we do to feel better about the situation, to not worry about what they’re doing every second, or if they’re going to be okay?

RLHS Junior Sarah Diaz, knows what it takes to make sure not only her relationship stays together, but also herself. Her significant other is currently serving in the U.S Marine Corps. “I tried to make myself as busy as I could,” she said. “I actually got a job to make the days go by faster.” Diaz also said that one really important thing to do while significant others are away is to keep a relationship with the family.  Diaz said it’s a great benefit because it is like having a built-in support group. Having people who can relate to you is beyond reassuring, it’s like having a small family that truly understands what you’re feeling and can comfort you when it hits you hard. Diaz also recommended embracing the new situation. “If you don’t [embrace it], you’re going to have a hard time adjusting, which is going to make it harder for you both,” said Diaz. The last thing anyone wants to do is make their situation harder than it needs to be. Diaz says that it is important to remember that your soldier will not be gone forever; once boot camp is over, you will see them again.

While it is very easy to get swept up in your own emotions about this giant change, you need to take time to focus on what your significant other or family member is going through. It is so important to show those in the military that they have a support system standing behind them. It is important to show them that you’ll be there from them, and to always encourage them to keep pushing forward. It’s the little things that mean so much to them, more than anyone could ever imagine. 

Writing about this topic has meant so much to me, and has helped me deal with my own emotional battle. In two months, I will be in the same position as thousands of others. The military is not something someone can easily handle; I know when my boyfriend first told me he was enlisted I freaked out. But with time and understanding, I became content with our new situation. No, it didn’t make it any less scary, but it let me know that he’s going to need me just as much as I need him. If there is anything anyone can take away from this article, I hope it would be this: it might be hard, but it will be worth it.