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Hi, I am Army Mom of 17 year old...
Old 06-08-2009, 01:48 PM   #1
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Hi, I am Army Mom of 17 year old...

...and wife of a retired USAF veteran. I have tried looking online for information that pertains specifically to the rights of parents who have given parental consent for their 17 year olds.

My son shipped to basic on Friday. Since then, he has been pulled from his group and has not even begun processing. He's just sitting. He's angry, disallusioned, and probably wondering what he's gotten himself into. His father and I repeatedly asked him if this is what he wanted to do and gave him every opportunity to say "no".

However, from day one, we have had one obstacle after another. The latest was his ship date being changed 3 times up to the point of being called at 1730 hrs to go to the local MEPS to ship. His recruiter is now just shrugging me off saying basic has their own rules. Well to me, the parent who had to give consent, that is an unacceptable answer.

Short of filing for an Entry Level Separation, I'm just trying to find out what rights I have as a mother of a minor. Although he has shipped, he still has not technically processed. Is it too late for me just to put him on a plane and bring him home? What info I can find states he would not be held accountable.

Thanks!
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:11 PM   #2
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My son shipped to basic on Friday. Since then, he has been pulled from his group and has not even begun processing. He's just sitting. He's angry, disallusioned, and probably wondering what he's gotten himself into.
Army Mom, welcome to the forum.

I have no knowledge of your rights under the circumstances you describe, but as a military veteran I can respond to what is quoted above: Hurry up and wait is SOP in the military - as is being angry, disillusioned and wondering what the heck you've gotten yourself into.
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:28 PM   #3
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That's exactly what my husband said.
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:39 PM   #4
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I'm not sure what help or expertise can be offered by a forum on early retirement, but perhaps you'd be able to learn more on a board like Military.com or GruntsMilitary.com. The Grunts guys may not be noted for their tact or their sympathetic demeanor but they're straight shooters who have cut through a lot of red tape. With turbo-powered chainsaws.

If your spouse is a member of AirForce.TogetherWeServed.com (free membership is available) then he can also access the Army version of that website to seek their advice.

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Originally Posted by Army Mom View Post
My son shipped to basic on Friday. Since then, he has been pulled from his group and has not even begun processing. He's just sitting. He's angry, disallusioned, and probably wondering what he's gotten himself into. His father and I repeatedly asked him if this is what he wanted to do and gave him every opportunity to say "no".
I may be biased, but it seems to me that you've discharged your parental duties to the fullest of your responsibilities.

It's hard to tell that everyone, least of all you, has the full story on his "pulled from his group"-- and maybe it's as innocuous as waiting for the workweek to begin. Your son's made a grownups decision and now he's learning how to handle it like a grownup. It doesn't appear that he's being harmed by the lack of attention, and perhaps this is the Army's way of giving him a chance to reflect on what he's gotten himself into. In a week or two he may look back on this boring, leisurely lack of activity with fond longing. That was my nephew's reaction when he enlisted for Ranger training.

Again I may be biased and I'm not trying to be unsympathetic, but I have a kid not much younger than yours who's going through the same decision-making learning process. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue, wash your hands, and sit on them. It certainly seems premature to whistle up a helicopter to hover in the parental rescue unit...
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:40 PM   #5
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Welcome Army Mom!

It sounds screwed up to me, but trust me, the military is a complex bureaucratic beast with many administrative hands that don't have a clue what any of the other hands are up to. It is common for one set of instructions to specify a time and a place for somebody to show up and do something, only to be met by some bureaucrat saying: "No, no, no. You people aren't supposed to be here now."

A popular saying was "Stand-By to Stand-By!" We never knew when we would show up too early for someone else's schedule and be stuck waiting for the time to be right. We all learned the vital skill of being able to catch a nap at a moment's notice under any conditions and in any physical posture. Yes, I can sleep standing up.

I wasn't in the Army but I spent time training on an Army base and if they still do it the same way as they did in the 70's, everybody who wants a specific MOS group (i.e. artillery, engineers, etc.) all go through recruit training together, and then ship out in the same unit to their MOS school. So, forming units in recruit training for some MOS's might be contingent on when the MOS training school will be open and accepting a new class of students. My reporting date to Boot Camp was dictated by the date my MOS school was starting a new class. Of course they screwed that up completely and I wound up flying halfway across the country before anybody believed me when I said "but my orders are for the wrong school!" My MOS was pretty specialized, so I reported to my unit and got stuck on every crappy detail available received extra basic military training while waiting for the next class to start.

The Marines, of course, are different from the Army, but doesn't the Army do a lot of their recruit training at wonderful garden spots just like the Marines? I didn't figure it out until after I showed up at Parris Island in August (93 degrees at 11:30 PM), but the influx into recruit training is much slower in the Summer because most folks are smart enough to decide they would rather PT on a 60 degree day than a 95 degree day. My series (group of four platoons) took weeks to form up, which meant because I was in the first platoon of the series I got an extra three weeks at Boot Camp while waiting for the rest of the victims recruits to show up. A month on Parris Island, without a formal training schedule and under the guidance of bored Drill Instructors is just sooo not enjoyable.

It is possible that they're just waiting to get everybody there in close proximity to each other in order to form a unit for training, and also to have the unit graduate from basic training in time to make the next available slots in the MOS school.

Or, it could be that some NCO in charge of such things somewhere has realized he made a scheduling error, and after an ass-chewing from careful consultation with the Staff NCO section chief, it has been decided to not bother any of the officers with problems that would be too complicated for them to understand beneath their exalted positions, to just fix it on their own without too much fuss. And if a few people find themselves with a little extra time on their hands, well, "welcome to the Army!"
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:31 PM   #6
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Is he waiting with others or has he somehow indicated he is not willing to comply with the training. What normally happens is that people ship from all over the country and they wait to get a sufficient number for the next class, this can take up to a week. If thats the case then this is normal. If he is wanting to get out then we have a different situation. Find out what company/battallion he is assigned to and then find the Commanding officer of that unit and simply call them on the phone. I would think that some form of conditional discharge would apply which will not bode well in the working world. The redcross and clergy sometimes can intervene on your behalf. Best of luck.
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:38 PM   #7
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He's just sitting. He's angry, disallusioned, and probably wondering what he's gotten himself into. His father and I repeatedly asked him if this is what he wanted to do and gave him every opportunity to say "no".
I did spend 3yrs in the Army, + 11 more in the reserves. What he is experiencing is the the very first small step in character building.

In 1967 June when I enlisted, barely speaking English, it was no different.

Hurry up and wait is a normal, he might as well get used to it, or exit before more unpleasantness of real training begins. He needs to start relying on himself instead of complaining to mommy.

By the way, IMHO the worst thing you could do to him is to intervene.
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:45 PM   #8
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If you intervene, then what? He comes home and sits with nothing to do? He looks back in five, ten, fifteen years and wonders what would have happened if you hadn't? He has learned that someone will get him out of things that he doesn't like? He has to explain to employers, colleges, whatever, why he was bailed out before he even started?

I agree you should not intervene.
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:54 PM   #9
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By the way, IMHO the worst thing you could do to him is to intervene.
Agree. Unless he is in some kind of danger, just tell him you love him and have complete faith in him, his decisions, and his ability to succeed in the military. Because this is a not infrequent state that he should get used to being able to deal with:
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He's just sitting. He's angry, disallusioned, and probably wondering what he's gotten himself into.
He shouldn't be that way all the time, but if he's not complaining he's not a real soldier. I look back on my time in the military through rose-colored glasses, but I can remember dreaming about ways to kill my recruiter. I call it the Marine Corps now, but back then we all knew it better as "The Suck", I'm sure every branch of service has similar loving names for their organization. It's a complicated love-hate thing that everybody experiences.

After he has been in the Army for a while he will easily understand the difference between the normal Army BS that everybody lives with, and when he's getting screwed around. The first just comes with the gig, the second one is why God invented First Sergeants and Sergeant Majors.

Edit to add: I went all the way to the night before graduation before I got to make a phone call. Back then, when recruits arrived, they just verified the address of their next of kin and a postcard with standardized wording was sent notifying them that you had safely arrived and it might be "some time" before you were able to send a letter home. Now they get to make a phone call the night they arrived and have to read a scripted paragraph that is the same basic message that the old postcard used to have. No calls home to Mommy to cry. When you finally had enough free time to write a letter you were so far in the process that your letter wasn't a tear-stained plea to call Congress and rescue you from the crazy people who hate you and try to kill you every day. It's more like "Really miss home. This is not what I expected but I'm going to stick it out. Please write soon."
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:55 PM   #10
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No direct military experience here.
All I can say is my mom raised me to make decisions and stick with them. And she was right. Yay Mom!
Hope it all works out for him. It just may be jitters.
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Old 06-08-2009, 04:08 PM   #11
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Army Mom

I'd highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Thomas Ricks Making the Corp. It is an account of boot camp in the Marine Corp (the army is less intense) written from the perspective of a journalist who never served in the military. He doesn't whitewash anything, most everybody wants to quits at one time or another and several actually do. I think you'll feel better after reading it.
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Old 06-08-2009, 08:09 PM   #12
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Three weeks. Turns out her grandson's ear operation healed by civilian standards did not meet the Army's/required futher healing courtesy Uncle Sam. Went on to make it through boot - and last week in New Orleans we wished him well on his upcoming all expense paid tour of Afganistan.

Stuff happens.

heh heh heh - and Will never was the patient type - but the Army is working on that.
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Old 06-09-2009, 07:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Short of filing for an Entry Level Separation, I'm just trying to find out what rights I have as a mother of a minor.
She was asking about what rights she had as a parent and felt frustrated that the recruiter was jerking her around. If she feels she has to intervene it is a personal family decision. When I arrived in Boot camp the Company Commander sent out a letter to all the parents stating that their son/daughter had arrived safely and was being looked after. Communication is possible and was encouraged by the military. There are other avenues besides the recruiter. He got his two a month and is not giving him up. On a personal note boot camp is a rude awakenning to almost everyone and quitting is a common and normal reaction in the thought process. The reward is that finishing it will make you feel invincible, strong, and totally confident in yourself. In hindsight it was probably one of the best times in my life. But this has to be a personal decision based on what mom knows best. There are those that just wash out, go AWOL, and a small percentage commit suicide. Wishing you make the best decision for your circumstances.
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Old 06-09-2009, 10:18 PM   #14
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I would be concerned if the lad were not unhappy.

My first night in the Navy was one of the most miserable of my life. I was lying in an uncomfortable bed and sweating in a stifling hot, airless room. My arms were sore from all the shots they gave me that day and my ears were ringing from the constant yelling that had been going on since 6:00 am. Notwithstanding my exhaustion, I couldn't sleep. I was confused, frightened by what was happening. Shell-shocked in a way. From the way they acted, I was certain that the people in charge had just escaped from the county hospital for the criminally insane. I had to pee something fierce, but I didn't know where the bathroom was located, and I was afraid to go looking for it.

In that moment of despair, I realized that I had made a horrible, horrible mistake. I was entirely unsuited for the Navy and I wanted nothing more than to quit and go home. I supposed it was possible that some other guy might have made a bigger mistake, but I had never met him. But then, as I continued to think about it, I considered that I had made the decision to be in that precise position. In fact, I had worked hard to get there. It was my own choice and I would have to deal with it myself. I concluded that there was no real alternative but to get up in the morning and plow ahead. So I did. I grew up a lot in that one night.

As others have said, most people hate their first few days in the military. It is a shocking experience and designed to be so. Most people reconcile themselves to it after a few days, and some actually come to love the military. I would let your son know that you love and support him, but I would resist intervening.
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Old 06-09-2009, 10:55 PM   #15
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All US military inductee training (basic training, ROTC field training, and especially the academies) contain a huge dose of "just do this." Often it's not deliberate or calculated--there are SNAFUs and complications when getting a lot of people through a complex training regimen, and the folks in charge don't need a lot of independent thought from the trainees, and they aren't in a position to customize the experience for each participant. So, some people might be sitting around in casual status waiting for a class to start. But, a lot of it is deliberate: The demerits for not having the socks folded in the prescribed manner and in the prescribed spot in the drawer, etc. This can be viewed as building discipline, assuring attention to detail, etc, but what it really does is see if a young person can conquer the overwhelming urge to shout "This is CRAZY! You want me to march an hour of penalty time because you don't like the way my socks are folded? Why does it matter how my socks are folded! You are all nuts! I quit!" It's a lot better for everyone if the military and the potential soldier learn right away if he is capable of pressing on with an eye toward the final goal despite the frustration.

Your son's sitting around with nothing to do will end soon enough. I would urge you to not get involved beyond sympathetic communication with him.
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