Preparing for Fort Benning Graduation can be very exciting, especially when you have accurate information regarding transportation, accommodations, and agenda of the activities. To make sure you have the most up-to-date information possible, we’ve compiled many of the frequently asked questions – and their answers – that we receive from families who are traveling to Fort Benning for Army basic training graduation.
Basic Combat Training for all Military Occupation Specialties is 10 weeks, while Infantry and Armor OSUT last from 14 to 16 weeks depending on your Soldier’s MOS. Fort Benning graduations are held on the Thursday or Friday of the last week of basic training. Families will receive a letter from Fort Benning detailing all of the information regarding graduation dates and activities. The National Infantry Museum provides a Graduation live stream if you are not able to attend in person.
We recommend making your reservation for the day prior to Family Day so you can be ready for Family Day and the Meet and Greet dinner.
Fort Benning is located 12 miles from Columbus, Georgia and 90 miles from Atlanta. Enjoy the variety of venues located by Fort Benning, such as the National Infantry Museum and Columbus Riverwalk.
If you are flying to graduation you can choose from two airports.
- Columbus Airport (CSG) – 30 minutes from Fort Benning
- Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport (ATL) – 1.5 hours from Fort Benning
Although renting a car is recommended, shuttles operate from both airports to Fort Benning. We highly recommend reserving your car and hotel now to avoid limited availability and high rates.
Booking your flight and hotel with Sandboxx Travel is easy. Let our team of military travel experts make sure to take all the worrying out of planning so that you can focus on supporting your SIT through this journey.
Graduation is held on Inouye Field, adjacent to the National Infantry Museum, and may be moved indoors or to another location if the weather is supposed to be inclement.
The Family Meet & Greet Dinner is a chance for you to meet other military families as well as your Soldiers Drill Instructors taking place the evening prior to Family Day. Your Soldier will not be in attendance and is not mandatory but it is highly recommended by those who have attended in the past.
All guests, 18 and older, will need to present a valid form of identification. If you are driving onto the base, make sure you have your proof of insurance and driver’s license. If you’re renting a car, your rental agreement will serve as your proof of insurance. Look for a letter from your recruit or command with detailed information on their particular graduation details.
Great news! There are no tickets or limitations on the amount that can attend graduation events at Fort Benning.
OSUT and Basic Training have different systems regarding Family Day. If your Soldier is in OSUT, Family Day will occur at a weekend midway through the training. You will receive information from Fort Benning regarding those dates. The “turning blue” ceremony takes place for OSUT Soldiers the day before graduation.
Fort Benning family day takes place the day before graduation for Soldiers who have completed basic training and will be the first opportunity to see them since leaving for basic training. There is a brief ceremony that morning and then they are permitted a pass to spend time with loved ones.
There are a lot of rules regarding Family Day for your Soldiers. They are permitted to leave base, but must stay within a roughly 25-mile radius of the base in the Phoenix/Columbus city area. Your Soldier will be informed of all the rules regarding their pass to spend time with you, and it is important that they follow all rules. Soldiers who don’t report back on time or violate other rules can face serious repercussions, so ensure that you leave with ample time to get back on base.
Graduation day will be one of the most memorable days of your lives for you and your Soldier. They have spent the last few months pushing past their limits and earning the title of United States Soldier. Graduation is full of traditions and formalities, which echo the level of excellence your new Soldier now possesses.
Remember to bring the letter you received from your SIT or their command in regards to graduation details, as they can vary depending on company or MOS.
Fort Benning Graduation takes place opposite the National Infantry Museum, in Inouye Field. The field holds a large stadium with bleachers where you will sit and watch the ceremony.
From April to September, graduation takes place at 9am with October through March graduations starting at 10am.
Sandboxx TIP: Arrive early.
Depending on weather and other variables, graduation times may vary. We recommended you arrive at least 30-45 minutes early, if not earlier. The Fort Benning MoCE Band will be playing so you will not be bored. Graduation will start on time and will involve a number of different demonstrations and marches where your new Soldier will show off their drill skills. The ceremony usually take less than an hour.
Graduation etiquette is easy to follow. There is no rigid procedures, and most rules are common sense. Listen to the various speakers, if signals to clap or stay silent are given, you should follow them. Treat the other families and loved ones with respect. You are all there to celebrate your loved ones and their journey into the U.S. Army.
After graduation, similarly to Family Day, soldiers are permitted to travel off base with their family for the day, provided they aren’t leaving immediately for their next stage of training. The same rules listed earlier apply.
Can I take pictures and videos?
Families are encouraged to capture graduation memories through pictures and video. However, the only restriction is not to take pictures of the gates which may pose a security threat. If you don’t fancy yourself a photographer the Infantry museum takes pictures of the day as well as individual company pictures, all of which can be obtained for free from their archive or Facebook page. There is also a vendor where you can purchase videos of graduation as well as individual pictures of your Soldier.
What should I wear to graduation?
There is no official dress code for graduation. You can wear anything from casual to your Sunday’s best. Your new Soldier will be wearing their Army dress uniform, so you may want to keep this in mind when choosing your attire. The walk to the stadium for graduation can be quite long, so wearing comfortable shoes is a wise choice, especially if you’re inclined to break out in a sprint when you see your new Soldier.
Fort Benning Graduation takes place mostly outside and the weather in Georgia is unpredictable. It’s probably best to check a few days in advance when planning what to wear. There is nothing worse than sitting at graduation shivering in the cold or sweating from the heat. You will likely be sitting on bleachers, so it’s advised to bring something to sit on, as the bleachers are either freezing in the cold or quite hot in warm weather.
Are there accommodations for those with disabilities?
The entire base is accessible, and wheelchairs are provided at the Infantry Museum. Trams also run from the carpark to Inouye Field for graduation. Service dogs are permitted at all graduation ceremonies and events. If you require additional accommodations, you should contact Fort Benning directly.
Can we purchase items on base?
There is a store within the Infantry Museum for purchasing essentials like sunscreen and water. There are also kiosks located near the graduation field for purchasing souvenirs, as well as concession stands for snacks and drinks during graduation.
The feeling you will get when you see your new Soldier for the first time will be more than you could ever imagine. It is truly a special day and a time to enjoy and celebrate all of your Soldier’s accomplishments. Let the Sandboxx Travel Team answer any questions you may have about traveling to Fort Benning Graduation, and help you book a most memorable trip.
Happy travels, and congratulations to you and your soon-to-be new Soldier!