Receiving Mail at Marine OCS: What You Need to Know

What Mail at OCS Means to Your Candidate

Mail at OCS is often the highlight of the day. Many candidates enjoy receiving sports scores, newsletters, newspaper clippings, etc.: anything they would have normally kept up with at home. Family and friends are encouraged to share fun stories, summer adventures, or jokes as this keeps candidates grounded and affords a moment of escape from the stress of OCS.

Proposing at Your Basic Training Graduation: Mistake or the Perfect Time?

It’s flashy, it’s exciting, it’s the combination of two of the most momentous days of your life.

But is it also a decision you will regret?

Ryan and Jenny

Ryan and Jenny first met in biology class in their suburban Georgia high school. Their personal chemistry was evident nearly immediately. Jenny started coming to Ryan’s baseball games with her girlfriends, while he would tell his buddies in the dugout about his big plans for their future together. After nine months of dating, Ryan followed the call he felt to serve in the military.

At the age of 18, he reported to Air Force Basic Military Training, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. At graduation, with his whole family and closest friends there to witness, the new Airman proposed. Ryan and Jenny were married within ninety days and began a whole new life together.


The Good

The happy newlyweds didn’t mind postponing their honeymoon for Ryan’s specialty training. Although Jenny had some trouble finding work as he moved around during the first year in the Air Force, they found the military community strong, and enjoyed exploring new locations as they built a life together.

In today’s military, getting married young is not uncommon. On average, military couples get married a full four years younger than their civilian counterparts.

Why are boot camp (and other early) proposals so common? On one hand, it makes perfect sense.

Young, new military members have achieved many of the other signs of adulthood early: a steady paycheck, moving out, training in a profession, owning a vehicle, and making significant decisions for their own lives. It would follow that marriages and kids would follow the accelerated timeline.


Tens of thousands of successful, long-term military marriages started young.

Andi Edwards and her husband married at age 19 and they have been married 13 years. “Our biggest tips have always been: Ignore the people who say it can’t be done (because it CAN!!!). Focus on being your best selves and treating each other as you want to be treated. Faith is our family’s focus and that has carried us through tough times, too.” spousebuzz

The Bad

Unfortunately, as your seasoned basic training staff will tell you: just because it feels right doesn’t mean you won’t regret it.

The bigger the life decision, the less you should rush into it

Ryan and Jenny’s life together became progressively more difficult, as more moves made building careers and deep friendships increasingly difficult for Jenny. Ryan was absent more frequently due to his travel. After his first deployment to Kandahar, he came home a changed man. Distant from Jenny and drinking more, their relationship was already on the rocks when his second deployment came only a year later.

Many young service members and their girlfriends/boyfriends don’t have the life experience to objectively understand their difficult future path and their relationship capacity. How many new high school graduates even have their own unique identity established, distinct from the influence of their childhood environment and parents?

Unfortunately, “young age at first marriage has been found to predict a higher rate of divorce in the military population,” and the military’s divorce rate hovers between 2-3 times higher than civilian counterparts. The higher the deployment tempo, the worse it fares. “Forty-eight percent of couples who marry before 18 are likely to divorce within 10 years. Only 24 percent of those who marry after age 25 will divorce within 10 years. That doesn’t mean half those teen marriages last forever. That means only half of them even make it to the tenth anniversary.”

The chances are, do you think you’ll be an exception to the rule? Military relationships are hard–separation, training, stress, danger, and frequent moves make sacrifice a lifestyle for spouses.

Rose-colored glasses are dangerous upon entering such a difficult commitment, as Jenny and Ryan found out, although they did survive, recover, and have a strong marriage to this day.


You Decide

Military marriages are tough, and boot camp is a very early time to propose. However, with unwavering commitment and an appetite for adventure, many military couples have enjoyed rewarding decades together.

Can you be one of them?

That’s for you to decide.


Sandboxx is an app for service members, recruits, their families, and supporters. It was created by two Marines and a Marine father who wanted to make it easier to stay in touch with family when off-the-grid without a phone and with units when they were back home. Download Sandboxx free.

The Pre-Armstrong Workout for Pull-up Beginners

If doing full dead-hang pullups, or as a whole, the official Armstrong Pullup Program is too difficult for you, we recommend trying the following workout until your max set is 7-10 controlled, full dead-hang pullups. Best of luck!

The Pre-Armstrong Pullup Program Workout

The Pre-Armstrong Program for Beginners (click for jpg)
The Pre-Armstrong Program for Beginners (click for jpg)

When required, simply pick any bicep curl type exercises (barbell, dumbbell, alternating, exercise tube, kettlebells) or row exercise (machine row, barbell row, single arm bicep curl, etc). Whichever exercise your ability and equipment availability allows will work, just stick with only one or two exercises per requirement and ensure you continually challenge yourself with the weights and repetitions.

Pullup Substitutes

This workout makes use of pullup substitutes. Based on your own ability and the availability of equipment, consider any (or a combination) of the following exercises:

Exercise Tube Pull-downs

Exercise tubes are some of the most versatile of all workout equipment

Loop an exercise tube over your indoor pullup bar, door, or tall piece of furniture. Kneel down or back up to increase resistance. Simulate the pullup movement as much as possible.

Officer Candidates School (OCS) Training and Preparation

marine corps physical fitness test

For me, the pull ups were the hardest part of the USMC PFT. If they are giving you trouble, or you need help training for the PFT as a whole, I hope this page will give you some helpful advice and motivation to train!

Mastering the PFT will be an essential part of becoming an officer in the Marine Corps.