Join the Army and you’ll immediately start to discover your potential. Congratulations, you’re about to become the best version of yourself.
What Happens Next
We’re here to help you adjust to your future life as a Soldier. Before you officially report to Basic Training, you should:
- Stay informed on your ship date
- Adjust your fitness and wellness routine ahead of Basic Training
- Pack and get ready to ship out
Preparing for Your Ship Date
As a new Soldier, your ship date determines your next steps. If it’s several days away, you just need to pack and await travel instructions. If it’s several weeks away, there are a few specific things you’ll need to do.
KNOW YOUR SHIP DATE
Your ship date and travel arrangements are important details to keep track of. If anything changes, your recruiter will update you right away.
STAY IN TOUCH
Check in with your recruiter every two weeks. This shows your commitment and ensures you don’t miss any important instructions regarding your ship date.
MAINTAIN YOUR ELIGIBILITY
Your eligibility will be monitored until you ship out. If there’s a common life event that requires an update to your shipping record such as a marriage, or something unexpected such as an arrest or a physical injury, please inform your recruiter right away.
DELAYED ENTRY PROGRAM (DEP)
DEP, also called the Future Soldier Program, is a popular entry option which lets Soldiers join the Army now and ship out several weeks or months later. As part of the program, you’ll attend weekly meetings and complete Future Soldier training while you await your ship date.
Preparing for Basic Training
Basic Training, or “boot camp” is the training foundation that transforms new recruits into Soldiers. Learn what it’s like so you can start preparing for it now.
Physical Fitness Requirements
Fitness will be an important part of your everyday life in the Army. Here’s what you can expect at Basic Training and beyond.
Packing for Basic Training
Use this checklist to ensure you have what you’ll need for Basic Training. Your recruiter can help provide more details and answer any questions. Keep in mind that you will have access to the Post Exchange (PX) every two weeks—a store on base that provides haircuts for men and women, sells personal clothing, personal care items, food, and other essentials—within days of your arrival.
Clothes to Bring
- One-day supply of casual, comfortable clothing
- Three sets of white cotton underwear
- One pair of white, calf-length athletic socks (no color bands, designs or logos)
- One pair of comfortable shoes
- Eyeglasses or contact lenses, if needed
- One small suitcase or gym bag
Additional Items for Women:
- Two neutral shade bras with at least one sports bra
- Neutral shade nylons/tights
- Feminine hygiene products (2-3 month supply recommended)
- Hair elastics that match your hair color
Toiletries to Bring
- Disposable/safety razor with blades and shaving cream (optional for women)
- Toothbrush with case, toothpaste, and dental floss
- Hairbrush or 6" black comb
- One washcloth and towel
- Shower shoes
- Shampoo, soap, and soap case
- Money—at least $10, but no more than $50 in cash
- Prescription medication
- One lock (combination or padlock with two keys). An additional lock can be purchased at PX.
Documents to Bring
- Valid driver's license or current state identification card
- Your orders: Be sure to have all copies of orders and documents issued by your unit Recruiter and/or MEPS. These orders must be delivered by you and by hand. Travel and meal tickets will be provided
What’s Not Allowed
- Privately-owned vehicles
- Expensive personal items
- Steel hair picks
- Razor blades
- Weapons of any type, including pocketknives
- Obscene or pornographic material
- Alcoholic beverages, nonprescription drugs or drug paraphernalia
- Playing cards, dice, or dominoes
- Cigarettes, tobacco products, or vaping paraphernalia
- Gum, candy, or chips
Shipping to Basic Training
The day you ship out to Basic Training is your first official day as a Soldier. Here are a few things you can expect on the big day.
YOUR TRAVEL PLAN
Whether it’s by car, bus, or air, travel arrangements will be made for you to ensure you arrive at Basic Training on your scheduled date. Memorize your itinerary and take pictures of important documents on your phone, so there are no surprises on the day of travel.
YOUR ARRIVAL ON BASE
Once you report to Basic Training, you’ll complete an intake process which can take between two to three hours. After it’s done, you’ll be taken to the barracks where you can settle in and unpack.
YOUR OFFICIAL ORIENTATION
Basic Training begins with Reception Battalion, or “Week Zero”, which is an orientation period that lasts one to two weeks. During this time, you’ll establish your official military record, set up health benefits and pay, get uniforms and dog tags, and finalize paperwork.
Common Questions About What Happens After You Join the Army
What is the Future Soldier Program?
The Future Soldier Program, also called the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), lets Soldiers join the Army now and ship out at a later date. The program is popular among high schoolers and other candidates who need some time to finish their current commitments. As part of the program, participants attend weekly meetings and complete Future Soldier training while they wait for their ship date to arrive.
How often do I need to talk to my recruiter?
You should check in with your recruiter once every two weeks while you wait for your ship date to arrive. It’s also important to be responsive when your recruiter reaches out to you so they know you’re still committed to joining the Army.
What should I do if something happens that may impact my eligibility?
Let your recruiter know right away if something happens that may jeopardize your eligibility. While it’s possible you could be disqualified, it’s also possible that you may qualify for a waiver for this issue. It’s important to be honest and upfront with your recruiter so they can tell you what your options are.
What happens after I join the Army as an Officer, or on a path to become a commissioned Officer?
What to expect after you join the Army as an Officer, or on a path to become a commissioned Officer, vary depending on the way you become an Officer. Learn more on our
Army Officers page.