Basic Training: Thank God For Facebook
Yes. You read that correctly.
Thank God for Facebook. And, oh, let me count the ways.
It's the place so many of us turn when we want to find out what's going on in our little corner of the world. I suppose it's no shock that when my son began his basic training journey and I had no idea what was happening, I started searching for average folks like me on the world's most popular social media site who may have the answers. I found those and so much more.
I need to mention that, for security reasons, the several of the Facebook groups associated with basic training and other military organizations are closed. Most of the admins require anyone who requests an "add" to answer questions before they are allowed to become a member. The safety of the soldiers-in-training is their priority.
The first group I stumbled upon is one made up of family members who have trainees or soon-to-be trainees at my son's post. Words are insufficient to describe how helpful this group was in getting me through that first week. They provided information on what happens from day one to what happens at graduation. Members in the group are supportive of one another, offer advice, and a virtual shoulder when needed.
Once he was assigned to a company, the admins on the first page made my husband and me members of a smaller group of family members on that page. We are all cheering our trainees on, unbeknownst to them. We can celebrate their milestones and victories together.
My son spent hours watching YouTube videos before he left, mostly dealing with gaming and computers. I never understood that particular media until now.
The wealth of information available on that platform has helped me to understand the process and provides perspective. I know my son is strong and able, but I'm a mom! I worry. What benchmarks does he have to reach? I know they break them down to build them up, but do they really help them to succeed? How does his day stack up? What is he learning and feeling? The videos posted on YouTube by military members who spent time at my son's post are enlightening! (SEE BELOW)
I realized early on how fortunate we are in 2017 that we have Facebook and the internet. We are even more fortunate that the army is sympathetic to families. Some companies and commanders share photos of our young men and women during their training.
When you haven't spoken to your child in what feels like months and you've only received two letters, being able to see what he's doing helps a momma's heart. Actually seeing his face, if you can find it, is like winning the lottery!
I'm sorry for all those parents and family members who didn't have access to this when their military members went through basic training or served. I can understand how incredibly difficult that must have been because this is not easy even with Facebook.
I'm thankful to the administrators of those Facebook groups who are all volunteers holding the proverbial hands of those of us struggling to get through this time without our boys and girls. I'm thankful to the army for allowing their people to share the trainees' journey with us. I'm thankful to each and every parent, wife, and sibling in our groups who shares their struggles, tears, laughter, and joy. It helps to know that you aren't going through this alone and that there's someone else out there who feels exactly the way that you do.
Be that as it may, I'm still waiting for a call. I wait and pray every day that there will be a letter in my mailbox. No amount of technology can replace hearing from my boy himself.