For America’s military recruit training centers, the summer months are the busiest time of the year.
“The summer surge months are July, August and September,” Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Hardin, the lead chief of processing at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, said. “People are graduating from high school. It’s just a big push for us.”
From the moment new recruits set foot on any of the eight armed services recruit training centers, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support provides what they need to begin the journey of becoming a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine.
More than 7,400 new recruits began boot camp at Great Lakes between March and May, Sheila Mattio, a supply planner in the DLA Troop Support Clothing and Textiles Navy recruit training cell, said. The number of recruits is expected to be 11,000 by the end of August. For DLA, plans begin months in advance for the increased number of recruits during the summer.
“The [planning system] is structured to push additional stock on all recruit clothing items during the months of April through September to accommodate the increase in recruits that we typically see in the summer,” Monique Williams, the Army recruit training cell chief for DLA Troop Support Clothing and Textiles, said. “We receive intel from the services on the expected number of Soldiers they expect for each fiscal year.”
The Army basic combat training site at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, processes more than 23,000 recruits annually, an official there said. A few of the first items Soldiers receive are their physical training uniform and their Army Combat Uniform.
For Navy recruits, physical training uniforms are distributed, and the civilian clothes they arrived in are mailed home or donated within the first few hours of arriving at Great Lakes, Hardin said.
While every service has a different name for it, all new recruits go through clothing issuance in which each receives a bag filled with necessities such as socks, boots, shoes, underwear and toiletries.
“[DLA Troop Support Clothing and Textiles] is committed to supporting the services, ensuring fulfillment of all clothing bag items to new recruits the first time they go through the clothing issue line,” Williams said. “It is essential that we contribute to a positive first impression on a new Soldier's perspective of military service.”
In addition to being completely outfitted, new recruits must also be medically cleared for basic training.
During the first week of training, recruits receive comprehensive dental, vision and physical examinations, including several vaccinations, Hardin said.
DLA Troop Support’s medical supply chain ensures the medical treatment facilities on each of the bases are fully stocked with necessary supplies for all medical exams.
“Almost all of the medical supplies provided to the military recruit training facilities are procured through DLA Troop Support,” Air Force Lt. Col. Chester Martin, the chief of the medical institutional customer facing division, said.
Recruits also attend training classes on skills that will be used throughout their career, Hardin said. Firefighting is one of those skills.
As stated on the RTC Great Lake’s website, “If a fire breaks out onboard a ship, there is no calling 911.”
“Every Sailor onboard the ship is a firefighter and must know what to do when an emergency happens,” it states.
DLA Troop Support’s construction and equipment supply chain procures fire extinguishers, industrial spectacles used to protect Sailors’ eyes, and anti-flash hoods that protect Sailors from flames, Lauren Murphy, chief of the item planning division, said.
For 2014, DLA Troop Support Construction and Equipment expects to provide about 1,500 fire extinguishers, 2,500 pairs of industrial spectacles, and 54,000 anti-flash hoods, she added.
DLA Troop Support’s mission is to provide superior support to warfighters, which begins as soon as they begin the transition from civilian to service member.
“Having everything you need is very important,” Hardin said. “It is like an assembly line, and this is the foundation of the journey.”
Army recruits at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, lace up their new boots during clothing issue during basic training. DLA Troop Support employees prepare months in advance to support the summer surge of new recruits that take place between July and September. Photo by Andrew R. McIntyre