Friday, January 23, 2015

OTS: Arriving at the Dorms

So, what finally happens when you drag your stuff across the grass?  Fortunately, the good folks behind OTS have shared with you a number of videos on their Facebook page! 


Once you get over to the dorms, you place your belongings outside and then proceed inside the main foyer of the dorms where there is a line of folding tables and several individuals processing your entry.  As you can imagine, there are numerous "greeters" there to welcome you, namely your commissioned staff members.  I'll let the videos speak for themselves.

This was the point where I was sent back outside because I didn't have two forms of payment to show them.  Regardless of how much money is in the bank, bring in another card.  The name tag and the reflective belt they'll hand you are indicative of what squadron you're assigned to.  Squadron 1 is the Goldhawks, gold/yellow colored items, inhabiting the third floor.  Squadron 2 is the Hoyas, green colored items, living on the second floor.  Squadron 3 is the Tigers, orange colored items, on the first floor.




Once you arrive on your floor, you'll probably notice your new MTI.  There are far fewer MTIs at OTS (one per squadron), but they are the best of the best.  Two of ours were "Blue Rope" Master MTIs, and another should've been.  We would find out later that our Student Squadron Commander was also there to welcome us, and help us get settled.  Ha!  Unlike BMT (or even my tech school experience), both women and men are down the same hallway and in dorm rooms right next to each other.  There are two to three people in everyone room, and typically just two.  When they have an odd number of women in a squadron, they will group them into one room of three.  We were directed down the hallway by the MTI, we dropped our stuff, then we came back out into our day room to retrieve those pre-positioned items.  After that, we were largely on our own for a bit, to set up the room according to a binder located in each room that has your rolling, folding, and positioning instructions.  We had also been given a packet of paperwork to fill out for more in-processing later.  Everyone kept talking to the bare minimum, although we were able to make quick introductions with our roommates.
Clad in PT gear, prepping my blues.
Each room has one set of bunk beds, one double bed, three tall skinny dressers pressed together, three desks with hutches, two small walk-in closets, two vanities, and one toilet/shower room.  At this point, it didn't matter who slept in what bed, but there are position numbers to all of the furniture, so if you're in a certain bed you'll use a specific dresser, a specific closet, a specific towel bar, and so forth.  Pay attention to that dorm bible and set everything up as best as you can.

The day is not over yet, and the fun is just beginning!


Friday, January 16, 2015

OTS: What To Pack

Packing for OTS is even more of a crap shoot than BMT, as there's really no list of what to bring.  The OTS website has two lists, including this one about pre-positioned items in your dorm room and this AAFES list of things to buy, which is aimed at non-prior service applicants.


My bags, ready to go!
Unlike with BMT, you have the option to drive to OTS (versus flying).  As a flyer, I was limited in what I could bring.  I opted to put everything in a backpack, a garment back, and my green BMT-issued duffle bag.  While it wasn't as convenient as having my car available for storage, it worked out fine.  Driving to OTS gives you the ability to stash items in your car until you need them, such as civilian clothing items, additional uniform items you don't want to have to roll and fold, as well as items that don't fit in your security drawer or under your sink.

With BMT there's a lot of talk about what kind of bag you should bring.  At OTS, that is out the window.  Feel free to bring a large rolling seatcase, or a bag in any color of your choosing.  It really doesn't matter at OTS.  You might choose to bring a bag of essential items and put the "nice to have" items in another bag to leave in the car.  There is no maximum number of bags you can, but be smart about it - you're going to have to lug them across the field.

Regardless of if you're a prior or a non-prior, upon arrival you'll be required to show two forms of payment for the items you're about to buy (whether you buy them or not).  I had one on me and then was told I had to go back and grab another.  They will also grill you as to whether you've called and told your bank that you are located in Alabama and about to spend $2000.  Whether you're buying everything or not, it's always a smart idea to call in this "vacation" notice with the bank so they don't put a hold on your card.  Side note, I love how the website tells you that if you can't afford to pay, get an AAFES Military Star Card.  It costs money to make money, right?  Just keep telling yourself that.

You will be charged for the pre-positioned items upon checking out at the mini-mall, whether you want them or think you need them.  This might be different down the road though, as our Student Squadron Commander was trying to see if we could reuse the hand-me-downs of previous OTs, versus requiring everyone to buy them.

The beauty of OTS is that you can have friends and family send you anything you need or you can hit up Amazon and have it shipped to you.  Unlike BMT, no one is checking your boxes or criticizing their contents. 

Read on for the laundry list!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Aim High and Spartan Up in 2015!

The 31st of this month marks my 4th Air Force Anniversary!  What better way to celebrate than by giving YOU something!  I've partnered with Reebok Spartan Race again to offer you a free entry to any race in the continental United States in their 2015 series!  If you've ever done a race, you know how these things add up.  Let AHE help you achieve your personal fitness goals (or give you one!) and keep you motivated to push forward with those new years resolutions.



The Spartan empire has expanded in a big way this year.  Stay motivated in between training sessions with the Spartan Up! Podcast.  Want to book the ultimate destination race?  How about The Spartan Cruise to the Bahamas where you'll run the Spartan Race on a private island?  Seriously, sign me up!  Or, keep it local and road trip closer to home with your Spartan Annual Pass - entry to every race for a year!

Great things from our friends at Spartan Race this year, and we're glad to work together again.  Even if you don't win my anniversary present, you can still get 10% off your race with code SPARTANBLOGGER.  Aim High and Spartan Up!



  

OTS: Arriving at OTS

When I last left you, I was posting from the Houston USO.  The rest of the journey was a lengthy one, let me tell you.  I ended up having my connecting flight to Montgomery cancelled.  Fortunately, they booked me on the next flight out that evening, but it meant a late arrival.  I had planned to attend  social gathering with some other Officer Trainees (OTs), but I was going to miss it as a result.

When I arrived in Montgomery, I was tired and I was ready to get what sleep I could before the big day.  I spotted another service member in the airport, but he went off before I could talk to him.  Come to find out, we ended up at base lodging together and he wound up being in my squadron.  I hit the curb and found the first cab driver that I could, although it was quite the adventure as I second guessed the legitimacy of his enterprise when I jumped in the car.  Luckily, I made it to base lodging and got into my room as soon as I could.  It was tough calming down that night, but I knew sleep was going to be precious.

The OTS Complex as seen from base lodging.
The next morning I went to breakfast with the other OTs that had been connecting via Facebook [Tip: Find out if Facebook has a group for your class date, for sure!].  It was a nice way to socialize and relax with people who I'd be getting to know really well over the next nine weeks.  Unlike at BMT, where you're immediately thrown into the deep end upon arrival at the airport, OTS gives you a window for reporting (approximately 12 to 4 PM) and you're on your own until then.  So, we had time to kill.  Lots of last minute Walmart and Target runs, sitting around chit chatting, and "last suppers."  I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but we made the most of it and enjoyed our last moments of freedom.  

The calm before the storm!
As a group, we tried to agree on a general arrival time.  We didn't want to get there too early, but we had also been warned not to show up close to the end of the arrival window.  I think we aimed for 2 PM or so.  The area is well marked on these arrival dates, and there are white signs pointing to the OTS parking area.  There are two long rows of parking for all of the trainees on the complex - Basic Officer Training (BOT), Academy of Military Science (AMS), and Commissioned Officer Training (COT).  There was a tent set up, and two columns of trainees had formed.  After parking your car, you'd walk up and stand in line.  At the front of the line was the commander of our training squadron, greeting us and asking us if we were ready and if we could recite the Core Values (and if we were prepared to live and breathe them).  The OTS Chaplain was also there on site, giving us tips as to what needed to have prepared before arriving at the front door of the dorms, turning males away to go get a hair cut, telling us to tuck in our shirts and put our hair up [Tip: Unlike at BMT, arrive with your hair already compliant with AFI 36-2903].

Two by two, we walked across the grass fields, dragging our bags and heading to the dorms.  For those that couldn't carry all of their luggage at once, there was a truck for transporting it over.  Frankly, I wasn't going to be that girl and schlepped all of my stuff.

What happened when we hit the door?  Well, that's going to have to wait for the next post...