a reply to: paranormal78
Well, for one, military pay is not tax-free (combat pay is, but not your basic pay).
I was in the Army, so I don't know how much the basic training differs, but you really can't do much preparing other than getting in good physical
shape by doing some good running and body-weight workouts to prepare your muscles. I did a lot of weight training and no running before I joined, and
it's just a completely different type of physical stress that my body was not prepared for, so I spent the majority of my first week or so quite
sore. You still won't be fully prepared because you'll never voluntarily put yourself through the physical exhaustion you'll get, but at least
you'll be a leg-up on the guy that was sitting on his couch his whole life prior to joining.
As for packing, yes, pack light, but pack normal stuff you would take on a trip, as you may need it if you're held up for a week or so prior to
actually getting to basic (I was stuck in a "reception" batallion for about a week before actually getting assigned to a real training unit).
Anything that you pack will most likely be stored away for the duration of your training--we were taken to the PX (Post Exchange) on a relatively
regular basis to purchase care items and underwear and all that crap, so don't expect to be using much of anything that you pack while you're in
Also, get your head in the right frame of mind. Keep reminding yourself that, even if something doesn't seem logical at the time, just do it, because
it may just be a small piece to a larger part of the training puzzle. Much of what I went through in basic didn't really make sense until a week or
so later, when it was put into use in a training exercise. I was a bit "questioning" at the beginning--drill seargents don't appreciate that.
Know that, at the end of it all, your drill seargents will lighten up and actually become a bit friendly, but at the start--man, it sucks. You think
they are pretty much the meanest individuals on the planet. Don't get me wrong...they do like to see you tremble a bit, as they don't have much to
amuse them in that job (my father-in-law was a drill sergeant...he's told me stories). Just take that with a grain of salt, try your hardest, and
step up to any challenge they throw at you. Even if you fail, as long as you give your all, they'll respect you for it.
And as far as the whole experience goes, embrace it. I went through basic in '98, and I still have fond memories of it and would like to go do some
of it over again. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that only about 1% of Americans go through, so do it with pride. Disregard all of this
nonsense about the military industrial complex--yes, you'll be working for an organization that is easy to hate at times, but as long as you retain
your own morals and understand that you only have to follow LAWFUL orders, you'll make it through just fine.
I know this was long, but like I said, I have fond memories of basic training, so I like talking about it.
Also, if you were a chronic pothead like me, wait a full 30 days before going to MEPS and getting drug tested--no point in tempting fate, and chronic
marijuana use can stay in your system that long. And for christ's sake, don't do anything stupid to get you kicked out, regardless of what the peer
pressure in basic may be--don't be one of those who feels a need to test the rules, because they won't play with you, they'll kick your butt back
home in a heartbeat.