To interrupt your scheduled programming:
I have just arrived (again) at Fort Benning (ugh) in preparation for ABOLC. After much ado regarding taking over a month to actually commission through the state of Minnesota, waiting for weeks to actually show up in the system of the unit I was assigned to, and more weeks added onto that to actually reserve my spot in ABOLC, I am here.
As someone who is completely new to in-processing and reporting to a new duty station, I’m going to add blog posts in real time about my experiences at BOLC, instead of like, waiting until I’ve finished writing about BCT and OCS in three years and have forgotten literally everything. So if you have no interest in ABOLC or Fort Benning, kindly show yourself out!
I was in the unfortunate position to have drill this past weekend where I was going to receive my school packet from our unit training NCO. In it are ten copies of my orders, my TRiPS assessment, and my commissioning memo from the state (aka HOPEFULLY everything I need for in-processing to go smoothly…TBD…). While I was previously getting e-mail updates through DTS about my stipends for travel costs, meal per diems, and lodging, I didn’t have a copy of my orders and was still waiting to see what day I was actually supposed to report to ABOLC. On DTS, it gave a departure date from my home address to Fort Benning as Thursday, June 28, so I figured with ~1 1/2 days of driving, they would expect me to arrive to Benning over the weekend and my report date would be on a Monday. For all you Army noobs like me: THIS IS WRONG! Once I got a hold of my orders at drill, I realized June 28 WAS the reporting date. All is fine because I still was planning on leaving yesterday (Monday 6/25), but I was/am a little frustrated since I would have liked some extra time to get to Benning and get settled before being thrown into more training. Lesson learned: request a copy of your orders/school packet sooner rather than later to actually find your report date and plan accordingly. Had I known I was to report on 6/28, I would have made more of a fuss about missing drill and leaving over the weekend so I had an extra few days.
Since I am National Guard, I already know active duty LT’s waiting for ABOLC to start have already been around for a week or so and have started in-processing. To add to my saltiness, I feel like going into my report date, I’m already going to be starting behind the curve. I know there is mandatory online training I need to complete, so I plan on doing that tomorrow, printing the certificates, and bringing those with to in-processing on Thursday. With that being said, I have been told it’s very helpful to have a printer, so I bought and brought one with me. There does seem to be free WIFI at Abrams Hall, so although I set my printer up to my laptop using an actual cord, a wireless printer seems like a viable option as well.
As far as I know, all National Guard member stay at Abrams Hall throughout the duration of ABOLC unless they choose otherwise. A few notes about this that I found out today: I anticipated maybe having to pay for one night out of pocket since, logically, I figured the NG would pay for the stay beginning the night prior to needing to report. This is also wrong! Your stipend-ed lodging begins on your report date, meaning if you arrive the night prior, you’re gonna have to pay for it. I tried to bring enough things that would make me comfortable without packing my entire life. I chose against bringing my bike since I figured I would have to store it in my room, and that might be challenging since it’s a standard hotel room. ALSO WRONG! There is bike storage in Abrams Hall! I haven’t checked out the laundry situation firsthand yet, but it also appears there is free laundry–one for standard clothing and another gear laundry.
The room is pretty quaint, but it’s a one bed with a standing bureau and kitchenette. There definitely seems to be enough space in the drawers/closets for both personal clothing and gear/uniforms, and a desk and chair area with plenty of room for a printer, laptop, and whatever else you want to store in it. I brought a few books from home, my Keurig (they do have small standard coffee pot), and my Xbox. The kitchenette has a microwave, mini fridge, small stovetop, and sink. The bathroom is restricted to the toilet and shower with the sink and counter space outside.
My plan for my one free day tomorrow is to get the things I still need that are ‘required’ for ABOLC. I seem to have most of what is on the mandatory list from OCS, but still need things like the Armor School patch, and I have also heard a laminator would be helpful/make life easier, so may try to see if I can track one of those down. Otherwise, there won’t be much to report until I see how in-processing day goes. I’m not quite sure how training will work starting this week since I know the current IBOLC/ABOLC classes have days off for 4th of July next week, so this should be interesting…