FORT LEONARD WOOD, Missouri (U.S. Army)- While some are under the impression they will be starting basic training as soon as they arrive at the installation, the fact is there is much to be done before training can start.
Briefings, dental, haircuts, medical, paperwork and optical along with the issuing of uniforms all take place during the reception process at Fort Leonard Wood’s 43rd Adjutant General Reception Battalion in Grant Hall.
Those arriving at the reception battalion are greeted by drill sergeants and quickly get started on their transition from civilian to Soldier.
“They’re briefed on Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention within the first hour,” said Lt. Col. Seth Graves, 43rd Adjutant General Reception Battalion commander. “Then they’re given an amnesty brief and given the opportunity to throw away any contraband they may have. They’re also given an opportunity to call home to let somebody know they arrived here safely.”
Parents shouldn’t worry if they don’t receive a phone call.
“Not everyone chooses to call home,” Graves said. “Or, they’re not calling their parents, they’re calling their significant other. They’ll also have an opportunity to call home the day they ship to their unit.”
The staff at the 43rd work hard to ensure all paperwork is entered correctly and that Soldiers are medically cleared to begin training.
“We make sure everyone is at the appropriate level of readiness before they ship to training,” Graves said. “We ensure they are medically cleared, properly equipped and that all of the administration functions are taken care of. Once all of that stuff is done we ship them to their training unit.”
According to Jim Holloway, Reception Operations chief, the length of time for this process varies depending on whether the Soldier is coming for Basic Combat Training or One Station Unit Training.
“Those going to 3rd (Chemical) Brigade BCT will be here for about three and a half to four days,” he said. “If they’re going to Engineer OSUT or Military Police OSUT, they’re going to be here seven to 10 days.”
One of the most important things new Soldiers heading to Initial Entry Training can do to help the process go smoothly is to make sure the correct official documents are uploaded when they visit the Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS.
“About 30 percent of the Soldiers arrive here without the proper documentation uploaded in the Army’s Reception Module so they routinely have to call back home to get that information faxed here,” Graves said.
One item new Soldiers are issued during this integration process is ‘The Soldier’s Blue Book,’ which is filled with useful information for them to study in between appointments and during any down time they may have.
“The blue book is filled with basic Army knowledge and has everything from rank structure, to the Soldiers Creed, to everything they need to start learning now,” said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Laumann, Company B, 43rd Reception Battalion drill sergeant.
All agreed it is in Soldiers’ best interest to understand the paperwork put before them and to be completely honest while filling it out. It could mean the difference between simply having to spend a few extra days in reception to get additional medical testing, or being charged with fraudulent enlistment for hiding something that comes out later.
“The bottom line is, no one will ship from here unless they’ve been cleared medically,” Graves said. “If we get Soldiers that withheld something they will likely be administratively separated and often times under a fraudulent enlistment.”
For those getting ready to head to Fort Leonard Wood for basic training or OSUT, information can be found on the Reception Battalion’s web page at www.wood.army.mil/newweb/43rd/index.htm.
“We’re proud of every one of these Soldiers that come through our doors,” Graves said. “They all raised their right hand and committed to serve our country, we’re very grateful for them.”
Each of those responsible for ensuring Soldiers get through reception want to reassure parents and loved ones of Soldiers coming through the reception battalion that they are in good hands.
“Just know they are safe and learning the Army way,” Holloway said.