Looking for Info on 2012 Reserve BOLC Experience!!!

  1. I am looking for information regarding the RECENT 2012 BOLC experience for Reservists.

    I got my commission back in Dec '11 and have done two drills with my unit so far. I began the online coursework in early January and will be completing it very soon (this month). I spent many many many hours working on them, and learned a great deal. But now that they're done, I'm starting to look ahead to BOLC and will (hopefully) get a slot for the August '12 (Class 125) class for reservists.

    I have a couple of questions for anyone who has gone during the 2012 year...and yes, I know that only one or two courses have gone through so far. Hopefully some of you that have gone through will read this post and help me out.

    1. Should I drive? Normally I would, but now I'm concerned with this wasting my time...especially since I'm over 24+hrs away (straight drive) and I'll only be there for around 4 weeks.

    2. Is there any down time? Enough to have a trip into the city or surrounding areas? (this will also have a bearing on my 1st question as well). If I won't really be permitted to go to these places, then I'm questioning why I would bother driving in the first place.

    3. What's the typical experience like now that the didactic instruction has been moved to online correspondence? I know that we reservists are required to complete Phase I (online coursework) PRIOR to applying for a slot in Phase 2. Did this open up some free time during the weeks you were there?

    Any help or experience you could provide would be extremely helpful. I'm prior service and I can handle not being allowed to go off-post...as long as I know that's what I should expect. I'd hate to drive 24+hrs one-way just to find out that I won't be permitted to leave once there. I'd rather fly if that were the case and hail a taxi for the brief needs I may have.

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    About Scottlin

    Joined: Feb '04; Posts: 19; Likes: 5


  3. by   Pixie.RN
    I know I'm not a Reservist and I went in 2011, but weekends are yours to do with what you wish (as are the evenings when you're not out in the field). I drove to BOLC (23 hours from Virginia) because I was there for 11 weeks and wanted my Jeep with me! But for weekend/evening outings, we all usually shared taxis anyway because no one wanted to drive.

    The place where I think you'll have more downtime due to completing Phase 1 is while you're out in the field for the three weeks of FTX. Those poor Reservists were herded into tents in the evenings in the field for all the learning modules that you've already done, so while the rest of us were chilling in the evenings, the Reservists were still in class. Not sure if that happened for all three weeks in the field -- I don't think so, but again, not a Reservist, so not sure.

    Enjoy the Riverwalk!!
  4. by   Scottlin

    I knew you'd respond! I knew I could count on you!

    Well, I know that you went through a different class. But I imagine that the experience is similar. I'm wondering if it would even be worth me driving down there since the entire time I'll be there will be spent in the woods doing FTX. I'm err'ing towards the "no" answer.

    I could always just grab a taxi during the weekends, if needed.

    Oh, one more thing (Especially for Reservists). Do we take DA photos there? Also, do we need to have our dental/physical/medical readiness completed PRIOR to showing up at Ft. Sam, or will they do that type of processing there for Reservists?

    I'm just curious, because they're not sure about it at my new unit. I'd like to know what to expect when there. I haven't even done HIV testing yet, and that's typically mandatory prior to any training.
  5. by   sa[RN]ah
    I'm really glad you posted this! I could definitely use all the information I can get as well :]
    I found out in December I was selected, did my commissioning last month and FINALLY received my orders last week so I will start drilling with my unit the weekend after next.. I'm excited/nervous for that all at the same time. Even more excited/nervous to find out when I can expect to go to OBLC

    Whats your experience been so far with the reserves and drilling Scottlin? if you don't mind me asking. I have no idea what to expect going in for my first time.
  6. by   mmcgorrian
    Hey, Scottlin I'd like to hear how your drilling has been going as well. I haven't started drilling yet but hopfully will in March. Also, Scottlin, how did you register to start on the online course work? I'm eager to go to BOLC as well, and am hoping it will happen before the end of the year.
  7. by   New1LT
    I went to the short course in Nov '11, so things may be a little different. If you guys are required to do a bunch of didactic work prior to showing up, then all this has done is get rid of some of the classes that we did at night during FTX while the Active folks were released for the night. You have to remember that you are showing up for the second half of BOLC, which is the FTX portion. So from Sun - Fri of the second, third, and fourth weeks you will be in the field. I was there during a major holiday, so we did have some breaks. When you get there you will have a couple free days during processing to go downtown if you'd like as well as when you get back from the field on the weekend. As for a car, that's really a personal preference call. Everything is within walking distance from the hotel as far as classes, formation, PX, clothing and sales, etc. I'm sure there will be someone there that will have a car and most were more than willing to give people rides. Most of your health assessment was done at MEPS, but some of us had to go to dental. They will get you to the appointments and back. Your HIV most definitely should've been done at MEPS. Your DA photo is not a mandatory thing for Reservist while you're there. However, since you'll be on an Army installation it would behoove you to get your ASU squared away while you're there and your DA photo. I didn't get mine altered in time (time got away from me), so I didn't get my photo done. I was told about the CPT board while I was at BOLC, so when I got home I had a hard time finding a place to get my DA photo done. Sadly, I didn't get it done and was passed over for CPT. The photo at one time was not mandatory and you could still get CPT without it. Not so now. So I would take this opportunity while you're there to get it done. Only 1LTs and above can get their DA photo. So if you're a 2LT don't worry about it. BOLC is going to fly for you because you're cramming a lot into a very short period of time. I got accepted into the Regular Army while at BOLC and shortly after BOLC got to my first assignment. I feel like I missed a lot of information going to the short course, but there is still a lot of good information presented - however in a very rushed manor Look to your prior service people to help you with Drill and Ceremony and general Army knowledge. There's nothing worse than officers looking all ate up!! Most importantly, have a great time!! You are one of a very small group of people that got selected, don't take this lightly.
  8. by   Cursed Irishman
    I went in July, 2011:

    1. Drive; if one thing I've learned in over a decade affiliated w/ the army: if you have the opportunity to have your own vehicle, take it. Cabs get expensive and carrying dufflebags from check in to the hotel is tiring. Put a request through for them to pay mileage on your orders.

    2. Bring a power strip to Bullis.

    3. Make weight, its all you have to do to graduate.

    4. Bring something to read .....if you've got a smart phone, bring that.

    5. There really isn't an "in-processing"; I never sat down with a finance or PAC guy. Maybe there was an opportunity that I missed, but I discussed it w/ other prior guys and none of us recalled having the opportunity.

    6. Don't try to be in charge. Don't get wound up about silly things. There are PLENTY of tool bags, both prior and non-, who will do things the difficult way and try to enforce made up rules on others. I think people who did this either didn't know any better or thought they were in a movie.

    7. Hit up "The Cove" .... I thought it was an urban myth; one reason your car will come in handy.

    8. The only thing I can compare BOLC to is the first couple weeks of college: pretty much an alcohol infused party under the guises of education .... w/ some camping thrown in.

    Read up on your travel voucher; people get hosed when they fail to claim things because they didn't know. For instance, your entitled to laundry reimbursement of, I believe, $2.50 a day.
  9. by   Pixie.RN
    I loved The Cove! That place was fabulous.
  10. by   Scottlin
    Thank you everyone for your replies.

    @ sa[RN]ah & mmcgorrian, Drill has been going well. I started out with the usual in-processing frustrations (pay, DEERS, ATTRS enrollment, BOLC, AKO access, etc). There are always some issues to contend with when coming in...because it seems that whatever form that you filled out for the recruiter either wasn't sent, wasn't good enough, or was lost. ALWAYS keep a copy of your stuff with you (e.g. contract, orders, oath of office, etc...).

    I've been to two drills and, honestly, I haven't done much. I was able to do quite a bit of work on my online correspondence coursework for the new Phase I of BOLC (taught entirely online) during the drill weekend. Simply put, I'm not really a contributing member of the unit until I go to BOLC anyway...so they've given me some freedom to work on that coursework.

    The coursework itself is quite extensive (80+ hrs) and it took up a significant portion of my time. But, I got it done in record time and am trying to work with my training NCO to get a slot for Phase 2 in August. I registered myself by logging into AKO (using CAC card), then going to My Education, then to the ATRRS site. You will have to initially log into ATRRS with your CAC card card to register and sign up for the course. But once you've done that initially, every time after that you can login with a username/password. It was easy to sign up...yet difficult to figure out how to navigate through the courses. Make sure you do the introduction and instruction modules, then begin with Module A...then move through them sequentially. Once the course is complete, make sure you print out your completion certificate (you'll need this to give to your unit's training NCO so he/she can get you a slot to Phase 2).

    @ New1LT: I did get HIV testing done at MEPS, but they would not release these records to my unit (for whatever reason). So I was told I'd either need to get them done elsewhere or see about getting them done at Phase 2 of BOLC. I hope they're accessible while at BOLC. I could not find them in my iPerms...so I guess we'll see. Did you go in as a reservists?

    I'm also prior service, so I won't have any difficulty with the fundamental knowledge, D&C, or anything basic. BOLC should be a walk in the park compared to Basic Training I went through as a Private...all those years ago (Circa '95).

    @ Cursed Irishman: We (RESERVISTS) are forced to make weight and pass a APFT upon arrival (as far as I have been told). I was told that if we didn't, we weren't allowed to enter Phase 2. Does anyone have anything different? I know that Active Duty don't have to, but that's not my situation. Thanks about the info. I'll definitely make a trip out to the Cove. It sounds like that's the place to go. I'm assuming that the BOLC experience may be different for reservists and might not be the college-party that the Active Duty officers enjoy...but wouldn't that be a pleasant surprise?

    Oh well, I'll just do what I can to make things work when I get there. I guess I'll drive. Even though I'm not looking forward to the several-day car drive.

    If anyone else has any experience relating to the recent shortcourse, that would be helpful.
  11. by   Cursed Irishman
    I went as a reservist; which makes it even more of a party....cause they expect you not to know anything; which for prior service, makes it even more of a vacation. Just make height/weight, I wouldnt worry too much about the pt test now.
  12. by   Scottlin
    Well, something tells me it won't be much of a party (prior experience talking)...but it would be nice.

    If anyone else (especially a reservist) has been to Phase 2 after doing Phase 1 online, please post your experience.
  13. by   Stephyfoxx
    Hi All,

    I'm a direct commissioned reservist (70B) that will be attending BOLC August 2012. Looking forward to it & am pretty happy to catch all the pointers thrown out on the blogs. I have a couple questions that I'm hoping someone can answer.

    1. Do you need a laptop and printer for BOLC? Are there any computer labs that we can use on FT. Sam? I'm a reservist assigned to a unit in Germany so it's not as easy as throwing my desktop & printer in the trunk of the car.

    2. Can we check in a couple days early? I'll be fighting Jetlag when I come in and would prefer to be there a day or two in advance to get over the hump.

    3. While attening BOLC do soldiers receive BAH or any other allowances? Want to keep my finances straight...

    4. Will I be reimbursed for the dress uniform if I buy it ahead of time before BOLC? I've read that it's better to get everything in advance since we'll be competing with a million others looking for the same sizes, etc.

    5. Anyone else already attending drills before BOLC? I'm scheduled to attend Annual Training a couple weeks before BOLC and have been told conflicting things about that. Some say that BOLC counts toward the AT requirement and others say it doesn't. Just looking for the straight answer.
  14. by   Scottlin

    Unfortunately I injured my shoulder after this thread was started and have been forced to push back my BOLC date until at least November.

    But, the good thing is that I'll be able to hear about more peoples' experiences (should they find this thread and post) before I go. I can answer some of your questions though.

    I heard that you need a laptop and printer (small one that's portable)...but I don't think they're such "must have" items anymore for reservists. This stems from the fact that we're not even allowed to get a slot in Phase II until we've completed Phase I through the online courses from ATTRS. That took care of most of the classwork that was typically done in BOLC and required the use of laptops/printers.

    I know that the Army typically gives you a full day of travel and will pay the expenses. However, if you're staying in a hotel or somewhere more than what is required to actually get you from your home to the school...I'm afraid you'll likely have to pay out of pocket for that expense. But, you can check with those closer to your home or in your unit to find out the details...as I'm just making an educated guess.

    I don't believe soldiers receive BAH while in school...but I could be wrong. It's been a very long time since I've been in myself (only got back in a few months ago after a decade of being a civilian). Again, I would check with your unit/recruiter/army contact.

    You WILL get a small reimbursement for your uniform...but it's only a few hundred bucks. It's nowhere near enough to actually pay the full costs that will be required for even two sets. I spent over $1000 just getting two ACU uniforms, boots, undershirt/PT uniform, etc. I didn't even go all out. I just got what was minimally required. 2 ACUs, 2 warm-weather PT tops/bottoms, 1 cold-weather PT set, 2 ACU caps, 1 pair of boots, several sets of undershirts and socks. I did go out and get me a gortex set...but that was really my only "splurge" when getting these things. I bought some of my stuff online and some of it in the PX. It's just one of those things...it sucks, but it is what it is. I would definitely try to get some things in advance. If only to get used to wearing it and knowing what it should look like. I also had my stuff sewn on (which is now acceptable via Army Regulations)...and I've been the envy of many officers who have yet to get their velcro (hook & loop) items removed. They're a huge pain in the butt. I never have to worry about if my uniform will have a name tape or my badges on it. They're always there and in the right spot.

    Finally, I've been attending drills since January, and I only commissioned in December. However, until you've actually completed BOLC, you're not elligible to go to annual training (AT). It's as if you're a private E-1 and haven't gone to basic training yet...you wouldn't know what you're doing...so why would the Army waste money on you to go to AT? The same goes for a new officer who hasn't gone to BOLC. BOLC counts as your AT requirement...period. But the money comes out of two separate accounts and you're elligible to go to both...if you so choose. But BOLC does count as your active duty time for that fiscal year requirement. Personally, I would go to both if given the opportunity. It's a great way to learn your unit personnel and get to know your new home. So, go to BOLc first, then AT. It's extra money...never a bad thing.

    I hope this helps. Now if I can just get some more input from people about my original post, I'll be good.