Sunday, October 23, 2011

Basic Training During the Holidays

For those leaving for basic training in the near future you have probably realized that you will be there during the holidays, and you probably have questions as to what will happen at basic training during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The following is for Air Force Basic Training only.

The Air Force has a program called Operation Homecooking which has been around for 35 years. For Thanksgiving, and only Thanksgiving, trainees will get a break from training and have the opportunity to spend this holiday in the home of a local active duty member (don’t worry it won’t be your Instructor’s). Participation in this program isn’t guaranteed. If you are in your first couple of weeks of training you will not go anywhere. Instead you will continue with training but that night’s dinner usually consists of turkey. The number of trainees that can participate in Operation Homecooking is dictated by the number of active duty members who volunteer to host a trainee. If you are selected to participate it is important to remember the following information which your Instructor is sure to give you.

- You are not allowed to drink any alcohol, even if offered by your host family.
- You must remain professional and respectful.
- Don’t badmouth your Instructor or fellow trainees.
At the same time it’s alright to relax and have a good time away from Lackland AFB.

Historically Christmas is a relaxed training day. With Christmas being on a Sunday this year you will have the option of going to church that day. Sundays are normally non-PT and appointment days which means you will spend the day in your dorm. Usually you will be given cleaning details or told to work on your wall locker, but your Instructor will stay away as much as possible which will make the day a lot more relaxed.

Remember, before leaving for BMT remind your family not to send you presents while at basic training.

This article was written by SrA Nick VanWormer, author of The Ultimate Air Force Basic Training Guidebook available at

Friday, September 2, 2011

5 Common Mistakes in the First 5 Minutes

No matter how often it is said, or how many times it is printed, there is always someone on the bus heading to basic training that makes at least one of these obvious mistakes. Don’t let this person be you. Read the following list bellow and then read The Ultimate Air Force Basic Training Guidebook for more advice and tips on how to stay out of trouble at basic training.

  1. Hair: Do not shave your head before basic training. This applies to both males and females. Do not even arrive at basic with a military style cut (Flat Top, High-and-tight etc). Males should shave all facial hair before arriving at basic training. Females do not worry about shaving your legs; it is not a requirement for basic training.

  1. Recruiting T-Shirts: When you enlist in any branch of the military you will probably be given a t-shirt. This t-shirt will have a military logo on it. Your recruiter may even tell you to wear it when you go to basic training. DON’T! Unless you want to be yelled at more than everyone else your fist day of basic training, leave this t-shirt at home.

  1. Other Clothing: In addition to the t-shirt, you should also not wear clothes that are out of the ordinary or will draw attention. What would that be? When I got off the bus for basic training there was already a group of recruits standing in formation. As I approached them to take my place my attention was automatically drawn to a male recruit wearing a bright yellow one-piece jump suite. If I noticed it you can be sure the Instructors couldn’t help but go out of their way to introduce themselves to that individual. That is an extreme example but I think you get the point.

  1. Luggage: If colorful clothing will catch the Instructor’s attention, than you can be sure colorful luggage will too. Leave your cartoon character luggage at home. Yes there are people that still do this. I would even go so far as to only bring neutral colored luggage to basic training. (No purples, reds, yellows etc).

5. Attitude: When you first get to basic training it is important not to show any type of attitude. Attitude doesn’t only refer to a bad attitude, although that is the worst type to have at basic training. It also refers to an exited attitude. Do not get off the bus with a big smile on your face, or stand in formation acting as if you are enjoying every minute of it. Even if you are, don’t let the Instructors see it yet.

I know this information has been stated over and over, but again, it never seems to fail that either people misunderstand or simply think the rules do not apply to them, and as a result they arrive at basic training wearing purple pants, an Army t-shirt, with a newly shaved head, carrying a smurfs suitcase and grinning from ear to ear. Do not be this person - don’t even stand near them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guard Duty at Basic Training

Basic training is designed to teach you how to work under pressure, to keep your military bearing under the most stressful situations, and to accomplish your mission even while being distracted.

At the beginning of basic training you must learn to decide when to open and when not to open a door. In the Air Force it’s called Entry Control Duty (EC Duty). This “simple” task of guarding the door to your dorm leads to stress and punishment for many trainees.

Your Mission: Prevent unauthorized personnel from entering your dormitory.

Your Adversary: Any and all Military Training Instructors (MTIs) trying to gain access to your dorm without showing proper identification.

If You Should Fail: At the beginning of basic training the punishment will be an MTI in your face, and then your face in the ground while you complete a given number of pushups. If you are to fail later in training, the punishment increases, and can even included being recycled (held back in training).

How to Accomplish this Mission and Succeed at EC Duty: At the beginning of basic training everyone will be assigned an EC Duty shift. The unlucky trainee who’s given the job of writing and monitoring those shifts is responsible for teaching you EC procedures.

Step 1 Make the EC Monitor show you all the procedure, in detail.

Step 2 Practice, practice and more practice. Once you have been shown the procedure, take the time to practice with your fellow trainees until you can say the instructions in your sleep (and some trainees will).

Step 3 When the MTI is pounding on the door yelling at you to let him in, ignore him. Do not listen to what he’s saying. Nothing he says or threatens you with gives him authorization to enter the room.

By the way - You will have specific instruction printed, (instructions are written on the door for you), which tell you who to allow entrance to and when to allow it.

This sounds simple right? It can be, if you stay focused and aren’t that trainee who believes the MTI’s threats. “Open this door or I’ll recycle your #@! back to next year!” What typically happens after this threat? The trainee looses focus and opens the door. The trainee now smells the breath of the MTI as he yells at him for opening the door. The trainee then notices the dirt between the tiles as he starts his third round of pushups.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Ultimate Basic Training Radio Show

Last Saturday I hosted he Ultimate Basic Training Radio Show. During this show I talked about the following...

1. What often happens when you don't make an appointment with a recruiter, and just pop into the recruiting station.

2. I talked about a rumor going around that you will be sent home from basic training if you fail your first PT test.

3. Lastly I went into more detail about an article I wrote for that talked about ways to work with the people you will be living with at basic training.

Enjoy the show and leave any comments or questions you have.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3 ways to Avoid Team Conflicts at Basic

An article I wrote for

By Senior Airman Nick VanWormer

During basic training up to 60 recruits, each with their own unique background, prejudices, and ideas, live in close quarters in a high stress environment. In this situation there is bound to be conflict, in fact it is expected. It is also expected that this disunited group of people will learn to work as a unified team. Success strongly depends on how soon each individual learns the following key points of working with others during basic training.

1. Focus on others. As you prepare to leave for basic training your focus should be about what you need to do before you leave. When you’re with friends and family the conversation focuses around what your basic training experience is going to be like. At this point, the focus is on you. However, once you arrive at basic training you should change your mindset from ‘what do I need to do?’ to ‘what do we need to do?’

2. W hen one individual fails the team fails. Just like a sports team, in order to win the game the team must work well together. While at the same time it takes individual achievement to bring the team to victory. Likewise, the failings of one team player can cause a loss for the entire team. Therefore it is important that everyone looks out for their fellow teammates, stepping in to compensate for an individuals weakness (which could be as small as folding shirts, or rolling socks) and capitalizing on an individual’s strength.

3. Being right isn’t always best. During basic training you and your group will be faced with many tasks that must be completed in a short amount of time. Your instructor will not necessarily tell you how to accomplish these tasks, but rather leave it up to the group to figure out. This is often when conflict occurs. During these times you may be right about the best way to complete the task, but arguing about it is not the best use of time. If there is a strong enough conflict that is hindering the task from getting done, it is better to swallow your pride and do it their way in order to accomplish the task.

Consciously think about these basic concepts during basic training and it will help you work with your team.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Air Force Basic Training: Push Up Tip #1

If you're working on push ups before leaving for basic training (which you should be), here is a good exercise that will help increase the number of push ups you can do. You can do this at home, and no special equipment is needed.

Include this exercise with your pre-basic training workout.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ultimate Basic Training Radio Show

Exciting News! I have been guest hosting the Ultimate Basic Training Radio show off and on for a couple of weeks. I have now been brought on board as a co-host with SGT Volkin. Together we will be providing the most up-to-date and useful basic training information available.

Last week was my first show as co-host and I talked about how to go into the military with a guaranteed job, three essential tips for receiving mail during basic and how to make the most of your phone calls home during basic training.

Enjoy the show!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ultimate Basic Training Radio

Once again I guest hosted the Ultimate Basic Training Radio show. On this show I answered question about options for vegetarians during basic training. I also discussed how to separate the good advice from the bad, when talking to people about your upcoming Air Force Basic training experience.

Click on the link below to listen.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ultimate Basic Training Radio: Air Force Basic Training

Click the play button to listen to my first appearance as guest host on the Ultimate Basic Training Radio.

During the show I talk about
- The importance of looking at all your options before joining the military.
- The new Air Force policy regarding bringing and using cell phones at basic training.
- The new cyberspace training taught during the fourth and seventh week of basic training.

Enjoy the show.

Listen to internet radio with Michael Volkin on Blog Talk Radio

Monday, January 3, 2011