Navy Boot Camp FAQ's
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions by families and friends of recruits onboard Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes.
Q. What information will not be released if I query Recruit Training Command?
HIPAA STATUTE (Medical Records)
Protected Health Information – The Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects all “individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associates, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper or oral. Accordingly, Recruit Training Command (RTC) is unable to disclose any medical information about a recruit to an outside party without the recruit's written permission.
Staff members are not permitted to release information on individual recruits which is protected under the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. sections 552a. This includes all personal information related to a recruit's training record, medical treatment, official service record, or administrative separation processing. Family members and other interested parties may have access to such information only if a recruit has signed a written waiver of his or her rights under the Privacy Act. The waiver must list the specific individuals to whom release of personal information is authorized. Any recruit may request permission from a Recruit Division Commander (RDC) to visit the Legal Department and complete a Privacy Act waiver form.
Q. What is the proper mailing address for a recruit?
A. The proper format for recruit mailing addresses is:
SR LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, MI
SHIP XXX DIV XXX
RECRUIT TRAINING COMMAND
GREAT LAKES IL 60088-XXXX
The following are the generic addresses for the ships:
Q. I need to contact my recruit because of a family emergency. How do I do it?
A. American Red Cross communication services keep military personnel in touch with their families following the death or serious illness of a family member or other important events, such as the birth of a child. The Red Cross quickly sends these communications on behalf of the family to members of the U.S. Armed Forces serving anywhere in the world, including ships at sea, embassies and isolated military units. The information or verification in a message assists the service member's commanding officer with making a decision regarding emergency leave.
Q. How to Contact the Red Cross to Send an Emergency Message
A. Active duty service members stationed in the United States and their immediate family members may call the Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Service Centers for help 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The toll-free telephone number is available through base or installation operators and from local on-base Red Cross offices. Other family members who do not reside in the service members' household, members of the National Guard and Reserves, retirees and civilians may access Red Cross services through their local Red Cross chapter, which is listed in local telephone books and at http://www.redcross.org/where/where.html.
Overseas personnel stationed on military installations should call base or installation operators or the on-base Red Cross offices. At overseas deployment sites, contact the American Red Cross deployed staff. When calling the Red Cross to send an emergency message to a family member, it is helpful to have the following information: Service members:
Q. What can I send my recruit in the mail?
A. Because space is limited in the barracks, recruits may receive letters and small photographs only. Please do not send your recruit packages of civilian clothing, toiletries, food items, etc. as they will not be permitted to keep them.
Q. My recruit is in RCU (Recruit Convalescent Unit) or on hold to pass a fitness test (FIT). Are we authorized a visit?
A. A recruit who is in RCU or FIT is still in training, therefore are not authorized visits. If you received a phone call from your recruit stating they have transferred to RCU/FIT, please note you will not receive another phone call from your recruit until they complete their training requirements. Recruits are only granted phone calls when they have a change in status, meaning they are going to graduate. You should not plan on attending the graduation if you have not received a phone call from your recruit stating they have met the requirements and will be graduating.
Q. My recruit failed their physical fitness test. When will he/she graduate or what is their status?
A. While recruits are listed in this status; they are not scheduled to graduate. They will not get another phone call until they have passed their test. When the status of a recruit changes for failing their fitness test, the recruit will know how their training is going to be affected. Some could be placed in our Fitness Improvement Team (FIT); others could be set back in training THREE or FOUR weeks. Again, your recruit will know into which category they are placed.
Q. My recruit failed their swim qualification. When will he/she graduate or what is their status?
A. While recruits are listed in this status; they are not scheduled to graduate. They will not get another phone call until they have passed their test. If they pass before their original graduation date, they will participate in their final graded evolution, Battle Stations 21. If they pass their test after their original division has graduated, they will then go directly on to “A” School. They will not participate in a graduation ceremony as their original division would have already graduated and we do not wish to delay their training any further.
Q. How can I find out if my recruit is graduating? Will you put a list up on the Web site?
A. Recruits are required to contact their family if their training is disrupted and they will not graduate on time. If you have not heard from your recruit, no news is good news. Unfortunately, because we can have over 1,000 graduating Sailors each week and divisions may be running Battle Stations during the week of graduation; it is not feasible to accurately list every graduating recruit online.
Q. What are award winners/honor recruits, and how do I find out if my recruit is one of them?
A. Award winner and honor recruit families are contacted separately by Recruit Training Command via U.S. mail to let them know their recruit has won an award. While every recruit has accomplished a wonderful milestone that should be rewarded, if families are not notified, their recruit has not won an award.
Q. How many guests per recruit are allowed to attend the graduation ceremony?
A. ALL GUESTS, including Active Duty/Retired Military Personnel and those ages 3 and older must be on the access list. The maximum number allowed is four per recruit. There will be times when that number is reduced to three due to the number of recruits graduating. Please follow the instructions on the security forms you received in the mail from your recruit.
- 6:30 am: RTC gate opens to guests.
- 7:00 am: Ceremonial drill hall doors open to guests.
- 8:45 am: All guests must be seated. Ceremonial drill hall doors close, no further entry for guests.
- 9:00 am: Graduation Ceremony commences.
- 9:20 am: Divisions arrive.
- 10:30 am: The Graduation Ceremony concludes
Q. When will I receive tickets/passes to graduation?
A. Tickets will be issued at the Recruit Family Welcome Center the week of your recruit's graduation. Please follow the instructions you received in the mail and fill out/return the security forms to your recruit so your names are placed on our access list. Recruits cannot obtain additional ‘seats’ from other recruits. Tickets are free of charge.
Q. I am not sure I am on the access list. Can you find out and make changes if I am not?
A. It is the recruit’s decision whom to place on the access list. Please communicate with your recruit well before the final week of training to be sure the right names are on the list. Please follow the instructions on the security forms you received in the mail from your recruit.
*PLEASE DO NOT CALL FOR ADDITIONAL SEATS*
Q. Are wheelchairs available for use and is there designated handicapped seating available?
A. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis when guests check in at the Visitor Center. There is limited handicapped-designated seating on the drill deck. One family member may accompany a handicapped family member in this area.
Q. Is handicapped parking available?
A. Yes. As you enter the base, please show your handicapped parking placard and let security know you require handicapped parking. You will be directed to a parking lot located adjacent to the drill hall. There also are wheelchairs available in this area for those guests who require them.
Q. How much weekend liberty will my recruit receive?
A. Recruits staying in Great Lakes for their A School will check into their new command immediately after graduation. That check-in process can take up to five hours. You may wait at the Mainside Visitors center. The Great Lakes A Schools are NOT located onboard Recruit Training Command. Your recruit will be able to contact you when they have completed the check-in process. They will receive guidance regarding their exact liberty hours upon checking into their A school.
If your recruit will be attending A School out of state, they will fly out the day following graduation. There may be a delay if there is a flight availability issue but only your recruits is permitted to give you their exact flight/departure information. Their graduation daytime liberty hours will be determined by their Recruit Division Commander (RDC) prior to commencing liberty. Please ensure your recruit returns to RTC with adequate time for their arrival to the barracks prior to expiration of liberty.
Q. Can I bring my recruit’s cell phone to him/her?
A. Recruits are not permitted to have electronic devices of any kind — including cell phones — while they are stationed at RTC. Please do not bring/buy them for your recruits use.
Q. Can you assist me with hotel reservations?
A. You may contact MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) for information regarding hotel and airfare reservations. MWR may be contacted by calling 1-847-688-3593 or you may also visit the MWR website at http://www.navymwrgreatlakes.com.
Q. What is the closest airport?
A. Chicago O’Hare International is 30 miles from RTC; Chicago Midway is 46 miles; and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International is 49 miles.
Q. Can I obtain a DVD of the RTC graduation?
A. The Navy Exchange Photographic Services at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes offers each graduating recruit the opportunity to purchase division and individual photographs, a division Cruise Book, which highlights the Recruits’ Boot Camp experiences from Night of Arrival to Graduation Day and a DVD of the Recruit Pass-In-Review Ceremony.
Photographs and cruise books may be purchased only by the recruit prior to their graduation from boot camp; however, if your recruit did not order a DVD of PIR, the Navy Exchange Photographic Services Office will accept orders on the day of graduation.
Please verify with your recruit that a DVD has not been ordered by them prior to placing your request.
To order a DVD of your Recruit's PIR, please contact the Navy Exchange Photographic Services Officer at (847)578-6205 and provide the following information:
Date of Graduation (Pass-In-Review) Ceremony
Return Address (Sorry, No P.O. Box or Overseas Addresses Please)
Daytime Phone Number
For prices and additional information, please contact the Navy Exchange Photographic Services Office at 847-578-6205.
Q. I was in boot camp in the early 60’s. Is it possible to receive a copy of The Keel from my time onboard Recruit Training Command?
A. The longer the time after the publication of a yearbook, the less likely you are to be able to obtain a copy. Recruit Training Command contracts with a publisher for a certain number of copies based on the size of the recruit division and pre-sale of the yearbook. The only way to obtain a copy of a yearbook is to find someone who was in your recruit division and buy it from him/her. Please do not e-mail asking for copies of The Keel or the name of the publisher. If it has been longer than a year since your graduation, you will not be able to buy a copy of The Keel from the publisher.
Q. Where is the Recruit Family Welcome Center located?
A. The Recruit Family Welcome Center is located at the Navy Exchange Burkey Mall, 2650 Green Bay Rd. North Chicago, IL. 60088.
Q. What are the hours of operation for the Recruit Family Welcome Center?
A. The Recruit Family Welcome Center is open Thursday [10:00 AM to 7:30 PM] and Friday [5:30 AM to 8:30 AM]. It is HIGHLYrecommended those attending the ceremony not wait until the morning of graduation to obtain your tickets. *** Certain federal holidays may require adjusting days and times. Please refer to the command website for those specific updates. ***
Q. I received a letter from my recruit with a security form, what do I need to do?
A. The security form you received must be filled according to the instructions on the form and returned to your recruit within seven days of the postmark. This will ensure the recruits' graduation ceremony attendees are properly accounted for. Again, this needs to be returned to your recruit at the mailing address they provided in the letter you received. This is also the same address you will use to write your recruit while they are attending basic training.
Q. The letter I received from my recruit says only up to four guests may attend?
A. The graduation ceremony occurs indoors. Due to safety regulations and fire code, Recruit Training Command is only allowed a certain number of people inside the building at one time. For this reason we must restrict the number of attendees for the graduation ceremony. Please be aware, although we can allow up to four guests, there may be times that number is reduced due to the number of graduating recruits. The enclosed security form will state the number of guests allowed.
*PLEASE DO NOT CALL FOR ADDITIONAL SEATS*
Q. How do I get to Recruit Training Command for the graduation ceremony?
A. Recruit Training Command requires you obtain a ticket to attend a graduation ceremony. You may pick up your ticket at the Recruit Family Welcome Center, where you will receive information on how to get to the ceremony.
Q. I plan on driving to graduation, what do I need to do?
A. Guests who intend to bring their vehicle for graduation must have a valid driver’s license, proof of registration, and insurance along with their graduation tickets. If you are in a rental vehicle, then the rental agreement will suffice along with your license and tickets.
If you do not have these, security will not allow you to bring your vehicle onboard the command. You may arrive to the gate via taxi or hotel shuttle and walk onboard with your valid photo identification card. The Visitor's Center, USS YORKTOWN, is a short walk from the gate.
Q. I plan on attending a graduation ceremony. What forms of ID do I need?
A. All guests 18 years and older, must present valid government issued photo identification: driver's license, state ID card, passport, military ID card, etc….
Guests 17 years or younger who do not possess one the items listed above must present one of the following: school ID, driver's permit, copy of their birth certificate, or social security card. On the security form you received from your recruit, the state ID number may be substituted with the social security number.
Q. What items can we bring or not bring to graduation?
A. All persons, articles and vehicles are subject to security searches. Metal detectors and other security devices are in use onboard Recruit Training Command. Expect a delay at the security checkpoints due to this added security requirement.
ITEMS PERMITTED INTO GRADUATION CEREMONY: Small bag/personal item (purse, satchel, etc…), small diaper bag, small camera bag, and personal wheelchair or walker. Strollers and car seats are allowed but discouraged due to space limitations (you may leave them in your car).
ITEMS NOT PERMITTED INTO GRADUATION CEREMONY: Large bags, backpacks, luggage, posters, signs/banners, gift bags of any size, and flowers. Alcohol, illegal drugs, knives or weapons will be confiscated by security. Any person found with these items will NOT be permitted to enter the ceremony.
NO WEAPONS! Weapons possession on federal installations is highly regulated and those in violation are subject to arrest and prosecution.
Q. I want to visit Naval Station Great Lakes main side, what do I need to do?
A. Naval Station Great Lakes, main side is accessed differently than Recruit training Command. In order to visit main side, you will need to go the Visitor Center, which is located off of Sheridan Rd. adjacent to gate 1. The Visitor Center parking lot is located just outside the center and adjacent to the Naval Museum.
Once you are at the Visitor Center you can go into the Pass and ID office to obtain a temporary pass.
Q. I attended a graduation or was on a tour and lost a personal item, what do I do?
A. Items will be kept for 120 days and then they will be disposed of. If you have lost an item, you will need to provide a description of the item in order to positively identify it. Once you have provided a description of the item, you will be required to pay for the shipping costs associated with the return of the item. We will provide you with the exact amount required and you will be responsible for obtaining a US Postal Money order made out to the postmaster general. Once payment has been received, your item will be returned with a receipt of the transaction. *****No other forms of payment will be accepted*****
Q. My Sailor is being placed in the Temporary Holding Unit. What does this mean?
A. Sailors placed in this unit, are Sailors who have graduated from Recruit Training Command and are awaiting follow-on orders to their school. The reasons for placing a graduated Sailor on hold can vary from clearance issues, needing a special physical, or sometimes it is as simple as waiting for a class to fill up.
These Sailors, however, are not just waiting around. They follow a daily schedule. Many maintain work assignments while awaiting their follow-on orders, to include: manning the Ship, acting as escorts for recruits transiting to medical or legal appointments, or performing office duties at locations throughout the base.
They are also housed separately from other recruits and have the ability to enjoy liberty, and are permitted to leave the base for recreation or for visiting with family members. They may also call home during their non-duty hours.
Q. My recruit is being processed for separation. What does this mean?
A. Your recruit has have been removed from training for either medical or legal reasons, or failure to meet Navy standards. The majority of these personnel are awaiting their administrative discharge from the Navy. Those who are being processed for separation will be retained at Ship 5. So when you hear or see the name Ship 5, know that it pertains to where your recruit is being housed.
Recruits can typically expect to have the separation process take approximately 10 to 20 working days to be processed out. However, it is important to note that every case is unique and the discharge process can be delayed by several factors, thus each recruit’s experience and situation will differ.
Unfortunately, due to the Privacy Act, Recruit Training Command’s staff is unable to answer questions from family members or friends regarding a specific recruit, including the reason for separation and any travel arrangements home. However, recruits are given the opportunity at their initial Indoctrination Brief at Ship 5 within 24 hrs to sign a waiver pertaining to their Privacy Act rights/election to name any family members and/or representative/s whom they wish to be given information, and to make any changes to such, if necessary, during their first appointment with the Legal department.
If you have questions regarding separations procedures, please contact the Recruit Training Legal department on 847-688-2405: Option 2.
Q. How are recruits supervised at Ship 5?
A. Unit Counselors are assigned to each compartment and are responsible for maintaining good order and discipline 24 hours a day. They supervise the compartment and maintain the daily schedule. There are times when Unit Counselors must discipline recruits to maintain good order. This typically involves limiting activities such as television viewing hours, access to the recreation area, or limiting phone calls.
Q. What medical facilities are available on Ship 5?
A. Personnel are never denied medical care; to help facilitate prompt care, Ship 5 is equipped with its own Sick Call to handle minor issues that may arise. Sick Call is conducted by Registered nurses Monday through Friday 0630-1100 and 1230-1500.
For more significant problems or time periods outside of normal Sick Call hours, recruits are seen at the main Recruit Training Command medical facility.
Recruits receive over-the-counter, non-prescription medication at Sick Call, including cough drops, Tylenol, etc., which they take immediately. If a recruit is given prescription medication by the main medical facility, it is collected immediate upon the recruit’s return from medical and stored in a locked locker. Unit Counselors conduct Medication Call several times daily and as needed to distribute medication. Medication is recounted immediately after distribution and then placed back in the bottle and returned to its storage area.
Additionally, detailed records are maintained with the time and amount of medication distributed. These measures have been implemented to minimize the likelihood of improper use of medication.
Q. What are the conditions like on Ship 5?
A. All recruits have their own bed which includes locked storage for their personal items. Recruits do not share any items, including hygiene items. Compartments are cleaned daily and clean linen is provided every Wednesday. There is a laundry room located in each compartment and recruits wash laundry daily. Recruits also receive a minimum of one hour of personal hygiene time per day.
Q. What entertainment is available for my recruit on Ship 5 when they are not working?
A. Each compartment is equipped with books, magazines, board games, television and a DVD player. Recruits are permitted to watch television at the Unit Counselor’s discretion during non-working hours: typically 1600-2200 on weekdays and 0800-2200 on weekends and observed holidays.
Q. May family members be authorized to visit recruits in the process of separation?
A. As long as they are in a recruit status, visits are not authorized.
Q. What is my recruit’s new address?
A. SR Last Name, First initial. Middle Initial
Recruit Training Command
3610 Illinois Street
Great Lakes IL 60088-3118
Q. I sent mail to my recruit at their other ship address before knowing about their separation. Will they receive it?
A. Yes, mail sent to recruits in separation will be forwarded from their old ship to their new ship.
Q. What happens to mail that is received after my recruit has departed Recruit Training Command?
A. Letters and packages received after a recruit has processed out of Recruit Training Command are marked return to sender and returned to the shipping authority (USPS, UPS, Fed-Ex, etc.).
Q. Is my recruit authorized to receive electronic devices, civilian clothing, etc., while in the process of separation?
A. Recruits in separations are not authorized to receive any items they were not issued or were unable to receive while in training. Be aware that while personnel are not authorized to open sealed mail, they may ask a recruit to open it in their presence to check for contraband.
Q. Is my recruit still only allowed to write home on Sundays?
A. No, recruits at Ship 5 are permitted to write letters every day. Their only restrictions are when there is formal instruction taking place or they are standing watch. Additionally, they are not authorized to write or read letter after lights out (2200). Restriction of sending or distributing mail is never used as disciplinary tool.
Q. My recruit called and said they were being separated, but I don’t have any further information. When will they call again?
A. Recruits being separated are required to call home, typically a 5 minute call, and notify their families they are being referred for separation and being transferred to Ship 5. Once they arrive at Ship 5 (typically a few hours after the above call is made) they are normally not granted further calls until after they receive their Indoctrination brief, which is conducted at 0800 Monday-Friday. Once they have completed the brief, recruits are permitted another 20 minute call.
Q. Can my recruit make phone calls from Ship 5?
A. A recruit may also be granted additional calls during the week if they need further information from their families or to give additional updates involving their individual case.
Q. Can you give me information about why my recruit is being separated?
A. Due to the Privacy Act, we cannot give out personal information about a recruit, including the reason for their separation. For inquiries regarding a recruit’s separation, please contact the Recruit Training Command Legal Department. Before any information can be disclosed to anyone besides your recruit, they must fill in an “Authorization to Release Privacy Act Protected Information” and specifically name the individuals and/or representative/s to whom they wish to release the information.
Q. What are the most common reasons for separation from Navy?
A. The following articles of the U.S. Navy’s Military Personnel Manual (MILPERSMAN) discuss common reasons for Entry Level Separation of personnel. The below MILPERSMAN references can be easily located using your internet search engine.
Q. What are ASMO codes and what do they mean?
A. ASMO stands for Assignment Memorandum Order. These codes are the internal administrative process codes the Navy uses to track the assignment and movement of personnel onboard Recruit Training Command. Below are some commonly used codes at Ship 5:
Q. What is the characterization of my recruit’s separation?
A. The characterization for a separation is dependent upon the recruit’s actual time served in the Navy.
Q. Will the type of separation my recruit receives negatively impact their ability to obtain civilian or government employment or receive federal benefits (i.e. federally-subsidized loans)?
A. It is up to the company’s hiring authority whether to take into consideration any prior military service in their hiring decision.
Q. What are the main types of Re-Entry Codes (RE) codes and what do they mean?
A. Pursuant to Bureau of Naval Personnel Instruction (BUPERSINST) 1900.8B, the following RE codes are most commonly used for Entry Level Separations:
RE-3E — Inducted/ Enlisted/Extended/ Reenlisted in error
RE-3G — Condition (not physical disability) interfering with performance of duty
RE-3J — Failed entry level drug test, not drug dependent (must have disclosed at moment of truth, tested positive for marijuana only, and had been in DEP for less than 30 days)
RE-4 — Ineligible for reenlistment
RE-8 — Temporary medical conditions or unsatisfactory initial performance and conduct to include not meeting the Navy’s minimum standard (ie: Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) and Non-Qualified Swimmer (NQS)
Q. Can the type of discharge or RE code be appealed?
A. If a recruit wishes to appeal their RE-4 code decision, they may submit a petition along with supporting documentation to the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR). Information about the appeal process can be found at the BCNR internet website at: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/bcnr/Pages/default.aspx.
Q. How will separated recruits be sent home?
A. Recruits being separated are sent to their home of record or within 50 miles of their home of record. Per Joint Federal Travel Regulations, service members must complete 90% of their first enlistment to be eligible for a flight home. Otherwise, the government-provided transportation will be the most cost advantageous to the government, typically via bus or train.
Q. Can my recruit upgrade their mode of travel?
A. Recruits wishing to upgrade their mode of travel must pay for it privately. Every recruit is afforded the opportunity to purchase an airline ticket if they prefer; it is their responsibility to make any necessary arrangements. If a recruit chooses to fly home, the ticket must be paid for in full privately, by either the recruit or the family. Once home, recruits may fill in the travel claim provided to them at their departure travel brief, and mail the claim form and unused government issued bus or train ticket to address provided on the form Personnel Support Detachment (PSD) for 85% reimbursement of the government ticket’s face value.
Q. Is it possible to collect my recruit at Recruit Training Command instead of sending them home on a bus or train?
A. Absolutely. Although the government will provide travel for all separated personnel, you are welcome to meet your recruit at Great Lakes Metra train station located adjacent to Recruit Training Command off Buckley Road if you and your recruit prefer. Recruits are informed given of their scheduled departure date one week in advance and confirmed discharge date at a formal departure travel briefing one day prior to their day of departure. Once your recruit has their departure date, please arrange a time to meet at the Great Lakes Metra train station located adjacent to Recruit Training Command off Buckley Road.
Q. Will transportation from the bus/train station or airport be arranged for my recruit?
A. No, your recruit will need to find onward (to home) transportation from the bus or train station, or airport.
Q. How long will my recruit be paid once they are in separation status?
A. All pay entitlements cease when Recruit Training Command’s Commanding Officer authorizes the separation. Until then, recruits will be paid the usual base pay they were receiving while in training.
Q. How will my recruit receive their final paycheck?
A. Direct Deposit is required for all payments, will typically be received in their bank account within 1-2 business days. If a recruit does not have Direct Deposit, they are instructed to contact the Customer Service Desk (CSD) – Recruit Training Command immediately upon arriving home with their banking information to receive final payment. If a recruit does not contact CSD, Defense Finance and Accounting Service – Cleveland (DFAS) will eventually cut a hard check and mail it to the separation address the recruit provided.
Q. Will my recruit be reimbursed for uniforms?
A. No, recruits are awarded a clothing allowance to pay for their uniforms.
Q. Will my recruit typically be eligible for benefits?
A. Most recruits separated from Recruit Training Command are not eligible for additional benefits. For additional questions regarding service member benefits, please contact the Veterans Administration.
Q. Does my recruit accrue leave time while in separation? If so, what happens to that leave?
A. Yes, all active duty service members accrue leave; however most recruits separating from Recruit Training Command are not eligible to “sell back” any accrued leave.
Q. How can I get a tour of RTC?
A. Due to the high operational tempo of RTC, we cannot support personal tours at this time.
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