Any new job is stressful, but going to basic training hundreds of miles from home, enduring physical and emotional hardships and knowing your life depends on how well you learn your job all increase stress exponentially. New enlistees in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces need gifts that help them cope. However, almost all civilian items brought into basic training are locked away when actual training begins, to be returned later.
Gifts to Keep in Touch
A gift box with pre-stamped envelopes may work for some enlistees to stay in touch with friends and family, but high-tech gifts work even better. If your budget allows, give the enlistee a laptop, a tablet with email or a smartphone to make staying in touch easy. Lower-cost gifts work as well, such as a prepaid phone card or a subscription to a Wi-Fi hotspot in case the base where he will be sent is remote.
Warm but breathable long-underwear tops and bottoms help new recruits who enlist in the winter and attend basic training in cold locations, such as the U.S. Navy training center in Great Lakes, Illinois; T-shirts, sports bras and underwear that wick away moisture make life more comfortable if the new recruit attends U.S. Army basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia, in summer. For a reminder of home, give a T-shirt for off-duty time with your local team's logo.
Use the new recruit's interests to give a book to help her stay inspired as she transitions to a new way of life, such as a biography of someone who overcomes obstacles or a book of quotations about staying strong. To help her stay strong physically, give her a pair of good running shoes because as the U.S. Army suggests, new enlistees should start running before they get to basic training.
Gifts From the Heart
Photos of you and your family send a message of love, but you need to give two sets: one wallet-size photo for basic training and a larger picture in a frame for his room at his first duty station. A journal or bound notebook allows him to express his thoughts and feelings as a way to release tension; encourage him to write daily. If his departure is imminent, give a batch of his favorite cookies for the journey and a certificate promising more to come as soon as he gets settled.