By Jennifer Alfonso (Leonard Wood)March 9, 2018
There are approximately 31,000 trainees anticipated to process through the 43rd Adjutant General Battalion, or reception battalion, at Fort Leonard Wood during fiscal year 2018. Whether a family member or the Soldier, joining the military is a huge commitment.
The point where the inevitable will occur has been reached -- a civilian will be leaving his or her place of comfort and move to a world of uncertainty and unfamiliarity to be transformed into a Soldier.
According to Reception Battalion staff, there are a few things one can do before departing to Fort Leonard Wood for Basic Combat Training or One Station Unit Training to assist in making a smooth transition.
It is important that all documentation is in the Soldier's possession prior to stepping on that final bus or plane. This includes birth certificates for all children and spouse, marriage and divorce decrees, and citations of child support payments or agreements.
Documentation that is commonly overlooked is that of the Soldier's driver's license. Licenses cannot be temporary or paper in composition, and must include an expiration date that is past the training completion date. A time frame of six months is ideal, as complications may occur which could prolong the initial completion training date. According to staff, Soldiers who arrive and are currently slotted for a Military Occupational Specialty that requires a driver's license, such as 88M, Motor Transport Operator or 31B, Military Police, the Soldier may be involuntarily re-classed to another MOS not requiring one.
Bring only allowable items
Although it may be easy for a Soldier to load themselves up with what they may feel are necessary items prior to departure, it is advised that they bring as little as possible with them for training. Allowable items include: cell phone and charger; basic travel toiletry needs; running shoes; clothes on one's back and the primary religious book of their faith.
"Do not purchase new tennis shoes prior to leaving for Reception," said James Holloway, 43rd AG Battalion Reception Operations chief. "Shoes for military use are issued at Reception to all trainees."
The purpose of this venture is to train, so it is recommended that Soldiers leave unnecessary items at home. They are provided the opportunity to purchase needed or forgotten items during their stay at the Reception Battalion.
Have finances in order
Financial readiness is paramount, so all necessary financial obligations should be reviewed and taken care of prior to leaving for training. Not only is this important in allowing the Soldier to rest assured that things are being taken care of at home, it also prevents the Soldier from being pulled from training which could lead to a delay in graduation. It is also important to know that a Soldier's first paycheck can take from 30 to 45 days after arrival, so plan accordingly.
According to Holloway, trainees should also bring no more than $50 cash with them.
Know what to expect
It is important to be aware that phone calls during training will be sparse, unpredictable and dependent upon command discretion. While residing at Reception, each Soldier is provided an opportunity to phone home within the first 48 hours of arrival. It is also common practice for them to make a quick call home right before leaving Reception.
"The Privacy Act denies Reception staff the act of verifying arrival of the trainee to family members and friends," Holloway said. "So, trainees whom have cell phone batteries which have been expunged, will have the opportunity to utilize Reception's phone with 24 hours of their arrival."
Many are uncertain as to what will occur upon arrival to Reception and during their time there. Soldiers are routed through an abundance of briefings, trainings and stations during their short stay with Reception. Soldiers will partake in general orientations, health screenings, immunizations, ID card issue, basic clothing issue, personal affairs processing, graduation photography and more.
This can be a very confusing and stressful time in life for Soldiers and their families. The best way to combat the anxiety is to research all areas of the Army and the Soldier's chosen MOS.
Moving from Reception to basic or OSUT
According to Capt. Victoria Lemmert, Company A, 43rd AG Battalion, commander, the day of the week trainees move to their Basic Combat Training or OSUT units depends on the MOS they chose.
Saturdays, Mondays and Tuesdays -- Basic Combat Training units pick up a variety of MOSs including but not limited to 74D (Chemical), 88M (Transportation), 92 series (Mechanics) and 42A (Human Resources).
Wednesdays -- Military Police OSUT.
Thursdays -- Engineer OSUT.
Advanced Individual Training also picks up on Thursdays.
"Shipping days are not always set in stone," Lemmert said. "Days can fluctuate due to holidays, but (this is the typical schedule.)"
Additional information regarding the 43rd AG Reception Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood, can be obtained by accessing the 43rd Reception Battalion's web page at www.wood.army.mil/newweb/43rd/index.htm.