Casandra, here's my brother's reply:
"First off, the first day will suck, no two ways about it. We got in late, 11pm or midnight-ish, I think and after some preliminary in-processing, we were escorted to our barracks and shown our bunks. We were told that reveille is at 5am, which was true. What we /weren't/ told was that they would be coming through at 4am to get us up and get things started. It was a Friday morning, and getting the early start was actually a good thing, even though the day was long, because, by
days' end, we'd all gotten our first haircuts, uniforms issued, and other gear bought with our first payment. Basic is 6 weeks of training, which for us, stretched into roughly 7 weeks due to some holiday time. The actual amount of time spent at Lackland depends on the time of year you are there. I went from mid-January through the end of February, and we had cold weather (wearing our jackets, gloves and hats with the flaps down to protect our ears), and warm weather (it hit 84F on a day when I was wearing my winter weight camouflage). In the summer, I understand there are days when they don't do hardly anything outside due to the high heat and humidity. Remember, Lackland is in San Antonio, deep in the heart of Texas. If you are there in the hot weather, drink your water.
Since I was there in early '93, things have become more physical, and they've added what they call a "warrior week" where you are living outside, doing survival type things, which is probably not as bad as it sounds. I think I'd have enjoyed that more than the one day we had on an obstacle course. Speaking of survival, to get through the training as a whole it's good to know some things going in: everything you do in the first week or two will be wrong, and you all will be yelled at about
it. This doesn't mean you shouldn't do your best, just expect for them to find something wrong. So long as your flight (the group of people occupying your barracks with you) can work well together, things will get easier as you go along. I wouldn't recommend volunteering for a high profile job, at least not early on. The people who get stuck with those jobs take a lot of flak and often get replaced pretty quickly. I managed to get a low profile job, which I held through the end. As part of a crew, if we messed up, there was someone in charge of us who took the heat. We might have all received some sort of punishment, but if you go in thinking you'll never get punished, you're in for a shock. Just know that the whole thing is a game. Try to work with the others in your flight and make them see that working together is the best route. The better you all do, the more liberties the instructors will give you and the less they'll be around ... and believe me, you'll want them to not be around much after a short time. Don't take things too personally, pay attention to detail, work well with others and things will go smoothly.
I'd highly recommend having at least a good idea of what field you'd like your job to be in before you get there, if you don't go in having a guaranteed job already. I went in knowing I'd have an electronics job, I just didn't know what. I got very lucky and got my first choice of jobs, though. (Schmeelkie note - I think recruiters can work with you on this) But speaking of jobs, make sure you know what you're getting into before you sign your life away, because changing jobs once you're in isn't always that easy. It's not impossible, but they spend a lot upfront training you for one thing, and if you then decide you don't like it, they're not really too happy about sending you off for more training. The early part of your technical school (which comes after Basic) is somewhat like Basic, but then it gets much more relaxed.
The things you'll learn early on, like making beds, folding your clothes, drill (marching), etc., may seem mundane, but it's all about attention to detail and discipline. Excel at these things and things will go smoothly for you. Use what little free time you are given wisely. Maybe your boots could use another coat of polish, maybe you really need a shower lasting longer than 30 seconds, or maybe you just need some rest. Speaking of wise choices: take the GI Bill. The benefits for those serving post 9/11 have just been significantly increased. They deduct $100/month PRE-TAX for you first 12 months after you are done with Basic, and the benefits are good for 10 years after you get out of the service. Right now, if I was going to school
full-time, I'd be receiving GI Bill benefits of over $1000/month. That's breaking even within two months! You can't beat that deal, and even if you don't think at the time that you'll go back to school, you never know and it's SUCH a good investment, you almost can't afford NOT to take it.
Again, USAF Basic is more physically demanding now than when I went through, but it's only a few weeks and nothing that most people can't get through. When I was there, as I understand it, they were at a low point for physical fitness training. Still, I lost 15 pounds during the time I was there, and I'd love to be back to that weight now.
Finally, just take it day by day, and expect to be wrong a lot. That's the best advice I think I can give looking back at my experience of over 16 years ago."
Hope that helps! And good luck with whatever you decide!