HI. How is everyone? Are you holding up during this pandemic? I can tell you that I am trying to do many things to keep myself from getting too stressed or scared. I have tasked myself with building a new website for our business. I think that will give me sufficient time to not be thinking about this virus. I am exercising, and riding my horse. These things balance me. If I read too much news I am become overwhelmed. I have tried to limit myself to certain times of day to watch or read any news on the pandemic. If I spend too much time thinking about things my mind go bonkers.
I have been spending some of my time on Facebook pages dedicated to support the loved ones of the Navy recruits that go through the training center in Great Lakes Il. They train over 32.000 navy sailors yearly. Thats amazing. I am sorry I won’t get to see the place. Covid-19 wrecked graduations for these sailors – and so many other 2020 grads in the world.
The RTC is a well-oiled machine. At the moment they are trying to battle outbreaks of the virus by quarantining new recruits before they begin training and they have had to quarantine divisions if an outbreak occurs. This significantly slows the process of getting new minted sailors out the door to get them to their career training which can take up to 15 months in some cases- and there have been delays for those waiting to go to training. The Navy has had to make changes on the fly to deal with this unknown enemy.
I have depended on these FB pages to provide me with updated info but also to give me support during a very stressful time. One day we are talking about getting mail and then another about PIR (grad) gifts. Some days wives or husbands need support as they struggle with the separation of their spouse or moms just need a virtual hug. We share photos and joys of our SR (Seaman Recruit), we celebrate when a family gets the “I am a Sailor” phone call- as that’s the only real celebration these sailors get right now. And we get rumors about this and that and the admins help navigate those. And sometimes we get wind of the best rumor of all – phone calls.
The SRs don’t get calls very often. In normal bootcamp (aka no virus around) that SRs get to call a loved one four times. Once when they get to bootcamp- a quick scripted call- I got that one at 3am; then at around three weeks- that one can be longer; and again at five weeks; then the “I am a Sailor” call. Of course if there is an illness or injury they are able to call home as well.
During this pandemic the protocol has changed a bit. We have had three calls already. The I am here call, then the one we had on my 21st anniversary with my hubby- that call was a shock – I wasn’t expecting it . Luke had no idea it was our anniversary but I told him he gave us the best gift. We spoke for over 30 minutes and it was emotional. Luke had just gotten out of quarantine and was working through P days – aka processing days. There you do just that- get processed- medicals, banking, payroll, etc. He was facing some fitness tests that were making him a little nervous. When we hung up I cried happy and sad tears. I had no idea when I would hear from him again. But I had the relief of knowing he was doing ok for the most part.
The relief is short-lived. Some worry and stress begin to build up as time marches on. I wrote him a number of letters and hoped we would get one from him. There were messages on the FB pages that reported some new cases of the virus. If your SR is ill they will call -and you so want a call- but not that call. But with each scheduled (non-emergency) call comes a celebration on the pages. When our SR calls we usually see many reports of the calls from the division. It is a nice place to be because we all know the feelings we are having.
This past Saturday Kevin and I were sitting on the back deck and my phone rang and I saw the Illinois exchange and I grabbed the phone. There had been a rumor on the pages that calls were going to come over this weekend. I was not counting on it because we had heard from him only two weeks ago. But the call came!
I put the phone on speaker and set it on the table. Since we had just gotten a letter the day before I knew he had passed the fitness and swim tests. I knew he was so proud when he received his uniforms with his name on them. But we talked about it all and more. He is still coming to the realization that he is really doing this. In this call he sounded like a different person. I hear the confidence in his voice. The happiness that he is making friends and the pride of his accomplishments. This is assurance that he is where he needs to be.
I look forward to meeting this new person sometime soon I hope. I had been told that the Navy will transform my kid. He will come into his own. I believed that but didn’t think I would see it this fast. He has always had a good heart. But he was lost as lost could be. Now I think he is found and is developing a sense of self and is now on the life journey of learning more about himself through experiences. I am amazed.
The lifelines for families of loved ones serving in the military are letters and calls – more letters and more calls. When will we get the next call? I am thinking maybe the weekend of May 17- Kevin’s birthday weekend. That would be great – but we cannot count on it. There is rumor they may graduate early if there are no setbacks, so perhaps the next call will be the “I am a Sailor” call?
All we can do is get ready and wait.