Boot Camp Diaries III: Speak Up for Yourself

Remember how shit was about to get real? Well, promises, promises… I think I made it a total of four hours through my first day before making the internal decision to quit. At first it was shocking but doable. It was scary but I just had to keep telling myself that they were paid to yell at me, which kind of worked for a time, until fatigue began to set in over all of us. I started thinking I likely was not meant to be in this place, and I was certainly not ready to have my identity stripped away from me.

The first thing that I wish I would have known is what a 900 division is. YOU WANT TO BE IN A 900 DIVISION! You can’t really ASK to be in one, in fact DON’T ask. However at some point someone is going to come in and ask you if anyone has ever played an instrument, or sang in choir, or if you have a degree or higher education. if you have SPEAK UP! They will select you for a 900 division and they’re the best, let me explain…

A 900 division is a performance division. That means that you get to perform at graduation in one of four capacities. Either you are triple threat, (choir/ band/ rifles) state flags (ME), or security detail. You get extra perks being in a performance division. You get the opportunity to perform at other graduations before your own which gets you out of the drudgery of day to day life in the barracks, you also get to see what is coming next and you get to see families, and trust me, any family, even if it isn’t your own, will be deeply motivating. My 900 division was fantastic. One of the things you’ll note in basic is that you’re thrown in with people from ALL over. All different walks of life and experiences, but the 900’s are the nerds, the COOL nerds. Like the exchange student from Germany with a real vintage leather jacket who is really good at physics. YAZQWEEN!

So get in there if you can.

As I mentioned I was ‘sorted’ into the state flags division, but had no idea what was going on. They drew a big 9 on my bicep and pointed saying, “over there female, move!” Also we had a horrible, sleep deprived version of the military assembly line from Across the Universe to receive everything from shots to standard issue clothing. Sounds cute, but so not fun. You will feel scared, and retreat into your shell for sure, but there are certain things you should DEFINITELY speak up for yourself about during in-processing.

SHOES: If your shoes aren’t the right size, you need to exchange them. If you’ve been given a pair 3 times and they are still wrong change again, seriously, don’t get shitty shoes. This goes for all pieces of your uniform. It’s going to seem like a pain, and you might feel like you shouldn’t speak up but I’m telling you two things. One, you absolutely do NOT want to go through bootcamp with ill-fitting shoes. Your feet will be in SO much pain anyways, don’t add to it. Two, this is your uniform. You are paying for it, they take it out of your check and it will be lasting you for quite a while. If it doesn’t fit you will have to buy a new one at your next command, and they are expensive.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT: This is difficult, but it is serious. If someone is inappropriately touching you or harassing you it is your right and responsibility to inform someone, anyone who you can feel comfortable with. You will have SO many briefs on this, even after Basic.

SERIOUS INJURY: If you are kind of sick, or your ankle is bothering you a bit, remind yourself that you are in a totally new, stressful environment full of crazy germs from all corners of the country. If you have a cold and you can push through it, push through. If you are seriously ill, just go to medical. Just go. I had a head-cold for pretty much the entire time I was there, but when I got really sick, temperature sick, I just went to medical. People tried to scare me into not going, mostly my fellow recruits, and the fear of being set back in training was ever present, but I didn’t regret going once. The sooner along in training you GO the better it is because your chances of missing any trainings that you are incapable of making-up are much lower.

SHOWERS (and food): If you didn’t eat, say something. You may have been missed or forgotten about. First tell your Yeoman or RPOC, you do NOT want to miss a meal. It is a direct order to keep yourself fed and watered while you’re in Basic. You also don’t want to miss a shower. You are REQUIRED to shower every day, and if you miss the window when everyone is showering for any reason you still must shower, so again, tell your RPOC or Yeoman.

There are things you should NOT speak up about, and as always you need to respectfully approach your RDC’s who have been in the Navy a long time and who have earned respect through their various positions in the fleet. If they were out of peanut butter during lunch… Maybe just ride that one out. If your RDC told you to un-fuck yourself because your uniform was a jumbled mess, count it as a win if you weren’t “exercised.” Was your fellow recruit mean to you? Did they call you ugly? Gurl you know you’re fierce, ignore that petty shit. An important lesson to learn early in Basic: Pick your battles.

Next installment will be In-processing!

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