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Preparing for Air Force Basic Training

Last Minute Checklist


Air Force Basic Training
Joint Hometown News Service/Flickr

Packing Up

If you look at the first page of the Surviving Air Force Basic Training article, you'll note a chart which lists the things you should bring to Air Force Basic Military Training. This is the official list produced by the folks at Lackland Air Force Base. The very first thing you should do with this chart is throw it away. This chart contains a list of things you will need at basic training, but is definitely not a good list of things you should bring with you.

Why not? Well, one of the very first things you're going to learn about your T.I. is that he/she likes "standardization." In other words, he/she wants every single member of your flight to look exactly the same, as much as possible. Therefore, even if you bring something on the list, the T.I. is going to want everyone to have the same color, or style as everyone else. In that case, the T.I. is going to "recommend" that you buy a certain color or style at the Base Exchange (BX) during your initial shopping trip there. (It's always wise to listen to a T.I.'s "recommendations" even if you don't agree -- it'll save you some "discomfort."

On your second day after arrival, you'll be issued a special "debit card." This debit card has $250 worth of credit on it (which, by the way, is deducted from your first paycheck), and is designed for you to purchase items as the "Troop Mall" (The Troop Mall is a small BX, located in the basic training area, designed specifically for new recruits to purchase needed items).

On the day after your arrival (probably Wednesday), your T.I. will take you by the hand (actually, not really -- T.I.s are not allowed to hold hands with trainees), and march you and your flight to the Troop Mall. There you will be instructed as to what you need to purchase.

In fact, you could show up at basic training with just your important papers and the clothes on your back, and survive just fine (I don't recommend this, because you won't get your uniforms issued until Thursday or Friday, and -- if you wear the same set of clothes for four days, I wouldn't want to be standing downwind of you).

Here's what I recommend you bring with you:


Make a copy of any important paperwork so you'll have a backup if something is misplaced. (Also, find a PLAIN blue or black folder to bring this in)
  • College transcripts, Civil Air Patrol Certificates, and any JROTC Certificates. Actually, you won't need these at basic training, but you'll want them with you during your final trip to MEPS, because college credits and/or JROTC can give you advanced enlistment rank.
  • Driver's license. You won't be driving while at Air Force Basic Training, but some Air Force jobs require a driver's license. If you can't prove that you have one, you will not be eligible for consideration for any of those AFSCs (jobs).
  • Alien Card and/or Naturalization Certificates (if applicable).
  • Marriage License and any birth certificates for your dependents. These are required to start your housing allowance, and to obtain/complete the necessary application for dependent ID Cards.
  • Social Security Card. ALSO-MEMORIZE your Social Security Number. Once on base, this number will act as your identification number and will be used often.
  • Enlistment Contract. This will be provided to you at MEPS after you take the final active duty oath (except Guard/Reserve, who do not take a "final oath."
  • Banking Information. The military requires all recruits to set up a direct depostit account. This will require a voided check in order to activate the account. The recruiter should give you a form for the direct deposit, and in most cases if the form is filled, the voided check is not needed, but your bank you should be able to get temporary checks printed, and you'll only need one. It is also recommended that you have someone/some way to pay your bills while you are gone, or better still, have automatic transfers/bill pays start about half way through basic. It is a good idea that you contact your bill collectors and inform them you will be unable to be contacted for 8 weeks. You will need to have this information on hand:
    • The name of your bank/credit union
    • your bank routing number
    • Your account number
    • ATM Card/debit card (so that you have quick access to cash.)
  • Important Paperwork Relating to Any Prescriptions. You will not be allowed to continue to take any prescription medication that you may bring with you (this is because there is no way to tell if you've substituted a prescription for an illegal narcotic). However, your prescription will be examined by a military doctor after arrival, and -- if necessary -- you will be re-issued the medication from the military pharmacy. Ladies, this applies to birth control pills as well. You may continue to take birth control pills during basic, but your prescription will be re-issued by the military pharmacy. If you are a military dependent and you have Birth Control, try to bring a full prescription with you, because although they will issue you a new prescription, more than likely they will just transfer your prescription. This process can take a little bit of time, and you don't want to run out in the middle of Basic.

Other Items to Bring

  • Shampoo. Save yourself some hassle and get 2in1.
  • Toothbrush, toothbrush tray, and toothpaste/powder. Your toothbrush tray should be the square kind. If you get the round kind, and it rolls when the T.I. opens your drawer to inspect it, it will be out of place, and you'll get a demerit. For toothpaste, get the "flip lid" kind. The "screw top" is almost impossible to keep clean.

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