Hello, all you amazing Milspouses! You made it through your spouse being away at BMT. You thought this day would never come, didn’t you? Trust me; I know the feeling. After surpassing the halfway mark of the BMT countdown, you could ask me how many days till I would see my husband, and I would be able to tell you the number of days and the estimated hours. During his BMT I watched countless videos of wives tapping their husbands out at the coin ceremony, and you can bet I bawled my eyeballs out through each one. So, when it was my turn, I was overjoyed, and that’s downplaying it.
On Thursday, before the coin ceremony is the airman’s run. This is the first glimpse you will get of your spouse during graduation weekend. But, I assure you their first lap is a very quick glimpse so, make sure you are watching carefully for your spouse. The Airman’s run is a fun event, not only because you get to see your spouse, but because the announcers hype you up and encourage you to holler and cheer your airman on. Later, after I had returned home from graduation, I was watching a video from a member of my husband’s flight page, and I could hear myself in the background of their video hollering, that’s my husband. Oops, I guess I was just a tiny bit excited when I saw him.
My first tidbit of advice on attending BMT graduation is that you need to attend at least one of the spouse briefings. I attended the one directly before the coin ceremony. At the briefing is where you will be informed of all the awesome benefits you get as a milspouse. Not only do you learn lots, but the briefing gives you a chance to connect with milspouses you have been in contact with via your spouse’s flight Facebook page. You will also make plenty of new milspouse friends during this briefing. The best part about attending the briefing at this time is that you can sit in a special spouse section during the coin ceremony. In this section, you will be located directly in front of your spouse’s flight. Not only will you get a better view, but you will be able to get to them faster when the ceremony ends. I loved not having to fight all the crowds coming out of the stands. I am pretty sure that I was the first spouse out there!
My husband still laughs at me because I double checked his nameplate before hugging him when I tapped him out. Since they all have shaved heads and identical ABU’s I wanted to make sure I was tapping out the correct airman. Wouldn’t it be terrible to tap out the wrong airman when they have family or a spouse looking forward to tapping them out?
Ask your spouse beforehand, either in a letter or on one of the phone calls, if anyone in his flight doesn’t have any family attending and would like to be tapped out. I mention this because the airmen who do not have family in attendance have to stay in formation until their MTI taps them out, which isn’t until the very end. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for an airman to watch his flight be tapped out by family when he knows he won’t be.
After you tap your spouse out, they will be free to spend the rest of the day with you on base. The first thing I would suggest doing after they are free is to head over to the visitor’s center to pick up their graduation pictures. These are pictures you are sure to want in the future. During on base days, you can spend time with your airman at the BX, the mini-mall, go bowling, see the Airman Heritage Museum, or, depending on the time of year, hang out at one of the parks on base.
One of the big rules during graduation weekend that my husband and I struggled with the most was no PDA. We complied, but there were several times during the day that we reached for each other’s hand before remembering the rule. So be very careful with the affection you show your spouse when you are in the public eye. It is important that they stay professional while they are in uniform. No PDA in uniform will be a rule that you will need to be aware of during the entirety of your spouse’s military career.
Throughout that first day back together my emotions were on overdrive. After two months of virtually no contact, I couldn’t help myself from crying sporadically. He seemed different, a more refined version of himself. I mean, what did I expect? He had just gone through a very intensive eight and a half weeks. Of course, his mannerisms would be a little bit different.
Friday is the graduation parade. The parade is a fun event, but make sure that you dress appropriately for the temperature. When I went in January for my sister in-law’s graduation, we froze in the morning, and by afternoon the temperature was nice and warm. When I was there for my husband’s graduation in June, we were dying of heat. After the parade, they must check in at the squadron before they will be released to go off base with you. Proceeding their check-in, they will have a chance to show you their dorms. It was so fun to see where my husband had been living for the last eight weeks. The tour gives you a peek into what their day to day life was like during BMT.
You will have two off base days with your spouse. Most couples at least want a few hours alone. This will give you time to talk and reconnect. As much as you want to keep your spouse all to yourself, remember that their family also traveled out to see them and it’s important that they get time too. What I recommend is speaking with your in-laws beforehand about what you and your spouse are hoping for during that weekend. They will more than likely understand your need for some one on one time.
Rather than making all sorts of plans for the weekend, see what your spouse feels up to doing. It will be their first-time off base in two months. There is a good chance that they will want some down time to relax. For the last two months, they have been told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. This will be the first time they have a choice in what they do. They may want to make the decisions or, if they are like my husband, they may want to make it simple and go along with what you and the family want to do. Don’t forget to give them some downtime.
That Sunday, the last day of the weekend, I woke up knowing that I had to say goodbye once again. In a matter of six to seven hours, I would be sending him back to his squadron, and I would be getting ready to head back home. There was a pit in my stomach knowing there was a limited time. Most of the Airman is required to stay on base during Sunday unless they were apart of honor grad. For most of Sunday, we hung out at either the BX or the mini-mall as we enjoyed quality time as a family.
Finally, the time came when we had to say our goodbyes. I was unsure when I would see him again. My heart hurt as I hugged him, and I had to force myself to release him from my arms. Tears streamed down my face, and I couldn’t believe how quickly the weekend had flown by. I wasn’t ready, but I had no choice but to be ready. As I watched him walk back to his squadron, it felt like my heart was breaking all over again. I felt the gratitude swell up inside of me for the time I did have with him that weekend and for his bravery in his choice to serve our great country.
To all the military spouses going through graduation weekend, flow with your emotions because you will have an abundance of them. Enjoy every second you have with your spouse because this will be one of the most special experiences during your spouse’s military service. Remember, it isn’t goodbye; it’s until next time. Let the countdown till your next visit begin.