What Your Son or Daughter Needs to Know Before Heading to Boot Camp

Aliyah Meehan, Director of Family Affairs, Proud Military Wife and Mother

So your child is heading to boot camp? There are countless emotions running through your mind as you preparing to send off your baby. We can agree that as parents we all want nothing more than our children to be healthy and successful at the goals and dreams they set for themselves. As a proud military wife and mom of three, I can certainly empathize with any parent during those few weeks leading up to the big day, and understand that you want to make sure your child is as prepared as possible for whatever lies outside the comforts of home.

Regardless of whether your child grew up in a military family or is a first generation military member, it is nearly impossible to be fully prepared for the physical and mental challenge of boot camp – and that’s ok. They’ve never done anything like this before. With that said, there are a few tips I would want to know before my firstborn walks out the door. Hopefully the following are lessons that you can share with your son or daughter to help them prepare for this very exciting and challenging chapter in their life.

1) Physical prep will put them ahead of the game

Physical conditioning is a big factor in boot camp. Surprisingly, many men and women go into training and are not physically prepared, resulting in undue stress. Therefore, encourage your child to start personal training ahead of time. This includes everything from push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and running. Believe it or not, there IS a proper way to do a military style push up. (See video below) Ultimately, this is one of the few things recruits can control and the more prepared they are physically, the less challenging the first few weeks of training will be and the more likely they will be to make it to graduation.


2) Ensure their financials are secure

While your child is off the grid, their personal bills will continue to come in per usual. Help your child to make sure these payments don’t fall behind. This is especially important since many military jobs require a Security Clearance, which often includes good financial standing. Without good financial standing, the government will consider them as a person of risk. If your child allows, help them out by keeping track of their credit score while they are away to look out for any red flags. It’s worth mentioning that they can always plan ahead by contacting their phone company, insurance provider, etc. and asking about automatic pay systems.

3) Have they defined their mission?

Simply put, basic training is meant to be challenging. It’s also just as much of a mental exercise as physical exercise. Therefore, encourage your child to deeply think about what brought them to the decision to enlist – whether that’s a good career, physical health or character building. In the hardest of times, their personal mission is the only thing that will keep them going.

4) Make sure they know that they will hit the ground running

There isn’t much time for your son or daughter to get acclimated to their surroundings, as basic training gets right down to business. They cut their hair and test their physical fitness standards all in the first 24 hours. That being said, instead of your child partying before they leave, it is a better decision to rest up and get plenty of sleep because first impressions are important. Remember…a drill sergeant never forgets! The truth is, the upcoming six weeks will likely be the toughest your child will ever experience in their life, but the reward, once they graduate, will be well worth the hard work and sacrifice for both them and you.

5) Leave the ego at the door

Once again, no matter what background your child comes from, once they arrive at bootcamp, they are no longer in charge of their own life. They are a member of the United States Armed Forces, and the sooner they realize and accept that, the sooner they will succeed. This is a great learning period – the fundamentals of their entire military career. Every moment at basic training is an important one, so encourage your child to walk through the door with an eager and open mind.

6) Communicate with your Recruit through Mailboxx

This is probably going to be the first time in your child’s life that they will not be able to instantly communicate with their friends and family back home. That’s right –Twitter, Snap Chat, Email, Facebook and Google Hangouts are no longer at their fingertips. They will soon come to realize that Mail Call is the best part of their day while they are off the grid. I also understand that you hardly have time to sit down at a desk and write physical letters anymore. That’s why we created Mailboxx.

Now while your child is away, family and friends can keep them updated on all the special moments taking place back home as quickly and easily as you would send a text message. Pictures and messages sent from smartphones back home will be converted into a physical letter that we, at team Sandboxx, will print out and send straight to your soldier’s Mail Call. The best part? Each Mailboxx includes a stamped and addressed return envelope making replies from them just as simple. CLICK HERE TO WATCH HOW IT WORKS.

We know you have already downloaded Sandboxx as you are reading this because, trust me, I know how hard those first few months without seeing his or her Facebook updates or hearing their voice can be, but be sure to spread the word to your family and friends too. Have everyone download Sandboxx before your Poolee leaves so that they can receive Mailboxx after Mailboxx to brighten their days and lend encouragement. We wish your Poolee the best of luck as they head off to boot camp, and thank you for supporting your child as they serve for our freedom.

We salute you,


4 Great Ideas for Valentine’s Day

victory in japan day sailor kisses woman in Times Square

Here at Sandboxx, a lot of us have been on both sides of receiving and sending Valentine’s Day cards when deployed or in basic training. It can be a difficult time of the year but a nice note or some loving wishes can make all the difference to the spirits of your loved one when they are off the grid. We sat down around the office and thought of some of the best gifts that we’ve sent and received in the past. These are our suggestions:

1. Write a love letter and add some photos from your early dating days, past Valentine’s or wedding day. A thoughtful and loving message can mean more than buying and sending expensive gifts. If you are having writer’s block when it comes to the letter, why not try write “14 things that you love about him/her” – the thoughts begin to fly once you start making the list.

2. Send a care package. If you want to send a care package make sure that its contents are practical, particularly if you are sending it to your military man. He may not want to appear too emotional in front of his unit. Add in some of his or her favourite things and wait for a loving response. Include a lock of hair taped to your love note.

3. If you have kids, why not sit down with them and have some fun making homemade Valentine cards. This is one of the best gifts that off the grid service member can receive and it is a great excuse to enjoy some quality time with your kids. You may enjoy it more than them!

4. Send a Mailboxx from the Sandboxx app. We don’t like to brag, but there’s never been an easier way to send your loved one a letter and pictures. Snap a picture, write a note and just hit send. We’ll take care of printing and posting your letter and even include a return envelope for your loved one. This must be expensive? No, it’s not. You can even try it out for free when you download the app here.

We’d love to hear from you about your Valentine’s Day suggestions and stories. What are some of your ideas? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Sandboxx & SCOUT – help us to help our Military



Sandboxx and SCOUT have partnered with the mutual vision of bringing useful functionality to military families’ mobile phones.

SCOUT Military Discounts is a mobile app that has established itself as the most comprehensive military discount app. SCOUT has aggregated, verified and filtered over 135,000 discounts, and provided them directly and conveniently to mobile devices of veterans, active military, and their family members. User’s can add discounts they have discovered to the application so that their fellow service members can take advantage of these opportunities. The app is currently available to download for free on iOS and Google Play.

Sandboxx was created by a team of active duty military members and veterans for the sole purpose of providing a secure social media platform that intelligently reflects and caters to the unique needs of today’s digital US military members, families, and friends. The most popular feature of the app is the ability to send mail straight from a user’s mobile device to military members who are “off the grid”. The app launched on iOS this past Veterans Day, with an Android version launch to follow in the coming months.

Sandboxx and SCOUT are proud to announce this partnership, and will continue to innovate and work together on bringing military lifestyle into the mobile era.

For more information on either application, visit www.SCOUTMilitaryDiscounts.com or www.sandboxx.us

Video Skills = $100

We want your help. We are creating a launch video for the Sandboxx app and want you to help shoot it. This production will be a series of 4 to 5 second videos around “Military Lifestyle”.

If we select your video as part of the series, you will receive $50, Sandboxx gear, and some serious bragging rights. The best clip will receive $100.

What is a launch video? It is a short 30 second clip that plays in the background during the signup / login screen of an app or website. Its purpose is to simply display moments within a lifestyle. Our launch video will be focused on military lifestyle. To help your creativity, below are videos for you to watch. They effectively portray their community and purpose.

Duet – Notice each shot and the moment it captures.

PayPal.com – The video (web only) is simple and says, “Pay with ease on the go”.

Dropbox – Snips of moments captured very well here.

Paper – Moments in a day of a Paper user.

Spotify iOS app – After you download the app, you will see a series of 5 second videos showing people listening to music in different places. This is exactly our goal.

Shooting: Please shoot these videos with an iPhone in portrait orientation (not landscape) and think about the lifestyle of the military – the barracks on a Saturday afternoon and 0530 on a Tuesday, the moments of training that challenge you, daily formations, unit PT, leadership, family events, driving through the base gate, being out on the town with friends, walking into the mess hall, the building you work in, field day, inspections, spouses making welcome home signs, the line at the PX or waiting for a haircut, gas chamber qualification, range qualifications, waking up on ship, the flight deck, putting your rank on your uniform – all the little moments and experiences that make up military lifestyle.

Remember, we need 4 – 5 second clips. Send as many clips as you like to info@sandboxx.us, subject “Launch Video”. Thank you for helping us make Sandboxx better every day.

Ted Williams’ Greatest Team – USMC

Ted Williams was selected professional baseball’s Most Valuable Player in 1946 and 1949 and played on American League All-Star Teams 16 times (1939-42, 1946-49, 1951, 1953 and 1955-58). He still holds the sixth-best all-time batting average and is second only to Babe Ruth in slugging percentage. He is the oldest man to win a batting title (in 1958 at age 40). The Sporting News named him the Player of the Decade, no small achievement when one looks at his competition: Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

With Williams earning accolade after accolade, what team did he believe was the best that he was ever involved with? Was it the Boston Red Sox, which he joined in 1939, or the Texas Rangers which he later managed? Perhaps it was the MLB All-CenturyTeam or even the MLB All-Time Team?

Surprisingly, none of these teams were selected by Williams. When asked to name the greatest team he was ever on, Ted Williams replied without hesitation, “The US Marines”.

After the 1942 season Williams voluntarily enlisting in the Navy reserve and was  called to active duty in November of that year.This marked the first of two major career disruptions for military service. He eventually would lose almost four years of playing time at the very peak of his career.

Naval aviation cadet T. S. Williams was sent to Amherst College in chilly Massachusetts for preflight training, a 90-day ordeal described as a combination of Officer Candidates School and a crash course in advanced science. Prospective pilots got into shape and learned how to be military officers as they studied basic theories of how airplanes operated. The surviving cadets then moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., for three months of preflight training. There the academic load became more rigorous, but they actually got to fly. The ground-school curriculum included subjects such as engines, ordnance, aircraft characteristics, aerodynamics and navigation.

Upon graduation, Williams opted for the Marine Corps and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He then moved south to Pensacola, Fla., for advanced flight training as a fighter pilot. It was there that he learned to fly the propeller-driven, single-engine, single-seat Vought F4U Corsair, the famous bent-wing “U-Bird,” a favorite mount of Marine aces in the South Pacific.

Although he was discharged in late 1945 without being called into active combat, he was called from the inactive reserves in 1953 to fight in the Korean War. In  Korea, William’s squadron leader was to become widely known. His leader being John Glenn, who became an astronaut and a senator after the War.

“By luck of the draw, we went to Korea at the same time,” Glenn said. “We were in the same squadron there. What they did at that time, they teamed up a reservist with a regular to fly together most of the time just because the regular Marine pilots normally had more instrument flying experience and things like that. So Ted and I were scheduled together. Ted flew as my wingman on about half the missions he flew in Korea.”

This wasn’t a goodwill tour and was involved in a lot of combat. He got hit on several occasions, managing to escape death each time.

One such incident occurred when Williams was flying an air strike on a troop encampment near Kyomipo. Williams’ F-9 was hit by hostile ground fire. He commented later: “The funny thing was I didn’t feel anything. I knew I was hit when the stick started shaking like mad in my hands. Then everything went out, my radio, my landing gear, everything. The red warning lights were on all over the plane.” The F-9 Panther had a centrifugal flow engine and normally caught fire when hit. The tail would literally blow off most stricken aircraft. The standard orders were to eject from any Panther with a fire in the rear of the plane. His aircraft was indeed on fire, and was trailing smoke and flames. Glenn and the other pilots on the mission were yelling over their radios for Williams to get out. However, with his radio out, Williams could not hear their warnings and he could not see the condition of the rear of his aircraft. Glenn and another Panther flown by Larry Hawkins came up alongside Williams and lead him to the nearest friendly airfield. Fighting to hold the plane together, he brought his Panther in at more than 200-MPH for a crash landing on the Marsden-matted strip. With no landing gear, dive brakes, or functioning flaps, the flaming Panther jet skidded down the runway for more than 3000 feet. Williams got out of the aircraft only moments before it was totally engulfed in flames.

“Everybody tries to make a hero out of me over the Korean thing,“ Williams once said. “I was no hero. There were maybe 75 pilots in our two squadrons and 99 percent of them did a better job than I did. But I liked flying. It was the second-best thing that ever happened to me. If I hadn’t had baseball to come back to, I might have gone on as a Marine pilot.”

There wouldn’t have been any complaints from the Marines if Ted Williams had decide to continue with his favorite team, least of all from his squadron leader.

“Much as I appreciate baseball, Ted to me will always be a Marine fighter pilot,” Glenn said. “He did a great job as a pilot. Ted was a gung-ho Marine.”

Free Holiday Gift – From Sandboxx to You

This time of the year is always one of high emotions. The joy of family members returning home and coming together is always heart-warming. On the other hand though, we mustn’t forget those who wear the uniform, ensuring that we can all have a safe Christmas.

We here at Sandboxx are very proud to announce that we are giving all Sandboxxers a free Mailboxx credit. This means that users can snap a picture and write a message to a soldier directly from the Sandboxx app. Once you hit send we will take care of postage and getting the letter to the service member.

There’s no need to go out in the cold or to wait in line at the post office. We know from our own experience that receiving mail is a huge boost to our service members, that’s why we want to sponsor your first one.

If you don’t know anyone in the military but would still like to support and thank a service member, you still can. Our “Letters from Home” program will help you to find a Hero and show them a small piece of gratitude for their service to our country.

It’s free. It’s easy. It’s on us.

How to:

  1. Download the Sandboxx iPhone app from iTunes here
  2. Go to Send a Letter section.
  3. Write your message and add a photo
  4. Enter the address of a loved one who is deployed or choose one from our Hero section
  5. Hit send
  6. We include a return envelope with it so they can write you back


Friends and Family,

Tribe #sandboxx is excited to announce the launch of our iOS app. Thanks to everyone who supported us and patiently waited as we crafted your lifestyle app. Please share, connect and give us feedback.

Sandboxx is built to serve those that do and have protected our nation. It is a place for friends and family to communicate and support easier than ever before. Sandboxx is military lifestyle simplified.


Thomas E. Vernon

Thomas E. Vernon (Lt.Col. USMC Retired) passed away in the presence of his family on Saturday September 20, 2014. He was in the good care of the staff at Tidelands Hospice in Georgetown for which the family is very grateful.

Tom Vernon was a great man, true to his principles to the end. He loved his country, church and family. He was born and reared in Nebraska until he joined the Navy. He graduated from the US Naval Academy and served as a Marine Corps aviator through three wars, serving with honor, distinction and valor. After retirement from the Marine Corps, he pursued and was awarded a doctorate in education from Duke University. His second career as an educator allowed his gifts as a teacher and communicator to shine through. He was a master teacher, admired by generations of students and colleagues.

He was married to the love of his life, Simone (Mimi), for 64 years. He was devoted to Mimi. He lived his life to provide for her and protect her and their three sons, Eric (wife Kim), Paul (wife Christine) and Jeffery. Tom always put the needs of his family ahead of himself. He was a man of faith. He was inspired by the word of God and the hymns sung in praise of God. He admired a good sermon and gave a good one himself when called up to lead the service.

He and his family travelled the world together during his Marine Corps career. He credited Mimi with keeping the family together. Upon retirement to Myrtle Beach he enjoyed the beach life and time with Mimi, his sons and the grandchildren, Whitney, Chelsea, Stacey and Kelly. He will be missed by his wife, sons, daughters in law, grandchildren and great grandchild Finley. Semper Fidelis.