A group of Soldiers in Army sweatsuits socialize outdoors A group of Soldiers in Army sweatsuits socialize outdoors

Your adventure begins

Join the Army and you’ll immediately start to discover your potential. Congratulations, you’re about to become the best version of yourself.

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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.

Soldiers in uniform climb ropes during Basic Training Soldiers in uniform climb ropes during Basic Training

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.

A Soldier is tested for the Army physical fitness requirements A Soldier is tested for the Army physical fitness requirements

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
  • Deodorant
  • Shower shoes
  • Shampoo, soap, and soap case

Additional Items:

  • 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

  • Family
  • Pets
  • 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.

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.

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