More than 38,000 Soldiers-in-training to take to the air and roads for holiday block leave

By Jonathan DahmsDecember 11, 2023

Holiday block leave travel ticketing begins for Soldiers in training
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — It’s beginning to look a lot like holiday block leave in the Davidson Fitness Center, as part of the gym has been turned into a temporary travel agency for the next couple of months.

On Monday, trainees in basic combat training units and service members attending their military occupational specialty schools here lined up to meet with Leisure Travel Services agents to plan and book their holiday travel. (Photo Credit: Melissa Buckley)
MEDCoE leaders encourage safety, rest during holiday block leave kick-off
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Gen. Michael Talley, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE) commanding general, brings it in with Soldiers as they prepare to depart from the San Antonio International Airport for holiday block leave on December 17, 2022. During the largest travel day in the holiday season for MEDCoE, Talley, along with other senior leaders, took time to engage with hundreds of traveling Soldiers, airport personnel, and volunteers. (Photo Credit: Jose Rodriguez) VIEW ORIGINAL
Holiday Block Leave 2018
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Santa, played by Capt. David Lee, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 23rd Quartermaster Brigade, yells a quartermaster advanced individual training (AIT) Soldier name for Family members to sign him out on Holiday Block Leave (HBL) at the privately owned vehicle (POV) node Dec. 19, 2018 at Fort Lee, Va. The node processed 500 Soldiers who were being picked up by Family for the holidays. The brigade processed more than 3,600 Soldiers leaving via POV, air, bus and train. Each year during the Christmas and New Year holiday season, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command AIT schools conduct HBL to give military students and cadre downtime. (Photo Credit: Dani Johnson) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (Dec. 11, 2023) – More than 38,000 U.S. Army Soldiers will take to the air and roads this holiday season as the Army kicks off its annual Holiday Block Leave period.

Holiday block leave is a unique program within the U.S. Army for Soldiers going through basic and Advanced Individual Training.

“This marks a time when our trainees, drill sergeants and cadre are afforded a break from their training to reconnect with their families and their hometown communities,” said Maj. Gen. John Kline, the Commanding General for the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training. “We want them to take time to recharge and focus on their holistic health and fitness before coming back after the holidays to resume their training.”

While a lot of the attention during Holiday Block Leave is on the trainees and students, Kline said it is just as important to give the drill sergeants and cadre a break from an almost non-stop training cycle.

“This is also a time for our drill sergeants and cadre to take some much-deserved time off to reconnect with their families and recharge their batteries,” said Kline.

Kline emphasized the discipline and values instilled in Soldiers during training and the expectation they continue to display these values while on leave, taking all precautions to keep themselves and others safe this holiday season.

“Our primary goal throughout this period is to ensure the health and safety of our Soldiers traveling home to be with their families during the holidays,” Kline said. “We’re working through our training centers to maintain communication with their Soldiers and provide information and resources to ensure their safe return to the training base in the new year.”

USACIMT is U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s lead for all initial entry training. Each year, USACIMT transforms more than 125,000 civilian volunteers into professional Soldiers who are competent and confident in their warrior tasks, who embrace the Army’s rich culture while striving to be all they can be as a healthy and contributing member of a cohesive team. BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE!

Questions and Answers about the Army’s FY24 Holiday Block Leave

Q1. What is Holiday Block Leave?

A1. Holiday Block Leave marks the time when the Army’s newest Soldiers depart training in mid-December for the holiday season from 21 bases around the United States. The Army is the only service that pauses basic training and advanced individual training during the holidays.

Q2. How many Soldiers will be traveling for Holiday Block Leave?

A2. We expect more than 38,000 Soldiers to take part in Holiday Block Leave this year, pausing their training at 21 bases from around the United States.

Q2. Will all Soldiers in training be traveling home?

A2. Soldiers have the option of traveling home to reconnect with their families and friends or they can remain at the training base where they will be supported throughout the holidays by their unit and the installation where they reside. Initial military training units have identified morale, welfare and recreation activities to ensure the well-being of Soldiers who decide to stay at their training locations during Holiday Block Leave.

Q3. What’s being done to ensure the health and safety of Soldiers participating in HBL?

A3. Commanders in the initial military training enterprise ensure that the newest Soldiers get home as safely as possible by assisting in the planning of their travel to and from their home locations. As part of this, these leaders brief their Soldiers about holiday safety, emergency contacts and medical information, and provide specific unit guidance to keep Soldiers safe.

Q4. What other ways are Soldiers prepared for this busy travel season?

A4. Not only are Soldiers prepared to face health and safety challenges during this busy travel season, but their commanders also provide training and information on how best to honorably represent the Army in conversations with their families, with their hometown communities, and during potential news media coverage which tends to focus on those serving in America’s Army during the holidays.

Q5. How is the Holiday Block Leave program managed?

A5. The U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training leads the centralized planning, synchronization and management of HBL. The Army’s Training Centers and Centers of Excellence participate in the planning and execute HBL for those in the training base at their installation(s). Together, initial military training cadre discuss implementation guidance, review reporting requirements and resolve challenges in advance of executing HBL.

Q6. Why is this important to the Army?

A6. The Holiday Block Leave program provides families with the opportunity to reconnect with their Soldiers and to learn about their Soldiers’ experiences. Soldiers can share their experiences with those outside of the Army in their hometowns, providing a better understanding of what the Army is and how the Army is training its newest guardians of freedom. It’s also an opportunity for our drill sergeants and cadre a much-deserved break from training and reconnect with their families and friends.