FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: How long is BMT?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  BMT is 7.5 weeks long.  Most trainees arrive on the Tuesday of “Zero Week.”  Graduation Parade is almost always on a Thursday*, so if a trainee progresses through training normally (i.e., no delays), their graduation date would be the 7th Thursday after their arrival.  All trainees have the opportunity to mail home a welcome letter from the BMT Commander.  This letter provides graduation week information specific to that week group.  *Occasionally, a holiday observance means we need to move our graduation events.  If that is the case for your week group, it will be spelled out specifically in that letter.

Q: Is the length of BMT going to change soon?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) No.  We occasionally see questions online like, “Is my son/daughter going through the long course or short course?”, and “I heard BMT is changing length soon.  Which classes will that affect?” While the length of BMT has changed several times over the past 25 years, there is no planning underway to initiate another change.  If it ever happens, BMT, Air Force Recruiting Service, and Air Force Public Affairs will flood our social media and provide outreach to make the announcement long before the affected trainees ship to BMT (we never want to surprise families with last-minute changes).  Rumors about changes at BMT are almost always false.  You will always get the best information by visiting our web site at https://www.basictraining.af.mil.

Q: When do trainees get to use their phones?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Trainees do not have daily access to their phones during BMT.  Under current guidance, trainees will receive a handful of opportunities to use their phones.  The number of calls cannot be reduced or otherwise limited by MTIs, but the actual timing of the phone calls varies from flight to flight.  Any additional phone privileges are based on superior performance and only if recommended by a Military Training Instructor.  Trainees cannot use any features on their phone except the telephone feature except immediately upon arrival, when they are permitted to photograph a pre-printed address card to send to family.  All other calls will be voice calls (no FaceTime, Skype, etc.).

Q: Tell me about the weeks of training (WOTs).
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Each week of training is carefully planned to make the best use of trainees’ time.  Early weeks of training include lots of in-processing appointments, both for personnel systems updates and medical processing.  As the weeks go on, those appointments become rarer and the majority of training time is spent in/around the squadron area under the watchful eye of our Military Training Instructors.  Trainees go to BEAST in the 6th week of training and take their end-of-course written exam on Saturday of the 6th week.  The 7th week of training is dedicated to getting ready for graduation and final personnel appointments to ensure trainees are ready to travel to and transition into Technical Training.

Q: What is BEAST and why is my trainee going to a “gas chamber?”
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training, or BEAST, is meant to test our trainees’ ability to put all that they have learned in their pre-deployment training to use while occupying a simulated bare-base operational location.  The individual elements of the BEAST experience have changed over the years and will continue to change as we build Airmen and Guardians for the future. 

Q:  What is the “gas chamber?”
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) training is where trainees learn to survive and operate in the difficult conditions of a CBRN environment.  The part of CBRN that receives the most attention is when the trainees are placed in an enclosed space filled with a chemical irritant while wearing their protective gas masks.  This experience provides them an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to properly wear their masks in an unforgiving environment.  At some point, each trainee removes their mask so they can briefly experience the effects of what is essentially tear gas.  This exposure, while brief, makes an impact, increases confidence in the trainees’ equipment, and reinforces proper maintenance and wear procedures.  The chamber was inoperable for a couple of years, but is scheduled to reopen in August 2022.

Q: I have questions about my trainee’s status or progress in training.  Who do I talk to?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  The Air Force follows strict guidance (including Federal laws) regarding trainee privacy.  No person at BMT is permitted to release information about a trainee or their status without written permission from the trainee.  We understand family members are especially interested in details when a trainee is assigned to Medical Hold or otherwise delayed in training.  High interest of family members does not relieve us of our requirement to follow the law.  A family member’s best source of information about their trainee comes from trainees themselves when they are afforded the opportunity to use the telephone and when they write home.

Q: Medical Hold
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  A trainee may be placed in medical hold for several reasons.  All medical hold transfers occur at the recommendation of competent medical authorities.  BMT squadrons themselves (including MTIs) do not make medical decisions.  When a trainee is transferred to medical hold, they are always given an opportunity to contact family members to update them on their status.  Only a trainee may relay their medical information outside of command channels.  BMT personnel are not parties in medical discussions between trainees and their doctors.  Time in medical hold depends on the specifics of each case.  If a trainee has a temporary condition, they may spend very little time in medical hold, awaiting release back to training (a medical decision, not a BMT one).  If a trainee’s condition is not compatible with service in the Air Force, the time in medical hold may be spent pursuing a waiver and/or going through a discharge process.  There is no set timeline for this.  While in medical hold, trainees continue to receive pay and benefits and are taken care of by the 737th Training Support Squadron (TRSS). 

Q: How long does it take to discharge a trainee?  What is the process?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  There is no set timeline, but the Air Force strives to make these processes as efficient as possible while ensuring each case is carefully considered and each trainee receives due process.  The process to enter the Air Force is lengthy (remember all that paperwork at the recruiter’s office?).  Leaving the Air Force requires detailed documentation and each trainee is given the opportunity to appeal decisions and seek waivers (if they choose).  Those appeals sometimes result in significant delays.  Trainees in “holdover” status or otherwise administratively delayed are provided opportunities to phone home on a regular basis to keep their families up to date.

Q: What are the BMT PT requirements?
A: (current as of 13 Sep 22) The PT test includes timed pushups, sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. Scores are calculated in accordance with Air Force PT standards for age and gender (DAFMAN 36-2905). Basic Trainees who are preparing to enter Special Warfare career fields have additional requirements, including swimming. Candidates for those career fields will receive additional guidance from their recruiters on what (if any) additional equipment they need to bring to BMT in anticipation of their unique physical fitness program.  If a trainee fails to meet these standards, they are given additional opportunities, sometimes after a recycle (additional time at BMT) to give them a chance to improve.  If a trainee cannot meet the physical fitness requirements after being given sufficient time to improve, they may be discharged from the Air Force.  Those separated for failure to meet fitness standards may be able to return to BMT one day, but that is an Air Force Recruiting Service decision, not a BMT one.  The best course of action is for every trainee to embrace a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition and physical fitness before they arrive. 

Q: Will a Basic Trainee receive mail if the flight, unit, and dorm numbers are not correct?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  BMT mail is delivered to Lackland via the United States Postal Service using the same rules your home post office follows.  Incorrectly addressed mail may not make it to the intended recipient.  If a trainee is transferred to another flight or squadron, they are always given the opportunity to notify their family members of their new mailing address.  All BMT mailing addresses should look like the following:

AB [Last Name, First Name, Middle Initial]
XXX TRS/FLT XXX
1320 Truemper St
JBSA-Lackland, TX 78236-6407

Trainees are provided their correct mailing address in the first day or two of BMT and are permitted to photograph it and send the photo to their family.  We encourage this to minimize the chances of misdirected mail and to make it easy for family members to share the correct address with other friends and family who wish to write a trainee.  You may run across dated information on other web sites that show mailing addresses specific to BMT squadrons and dormitories.  These are no longer used and there is no need for family members to know the dormitory number.  Whatever your trainee sends you during the first week is their correct address and, unless they reach out with a change, you can be assured what they gave you is correct.

Q: How often do Basic Trainees receive mail?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Military Training Instructors pick up mail from the Postal Service Center (PSC) Monday-Friday.  MTIs are certified mail couriers and must follow federal law when handling mail.  This means if a trainee is not present when mail is handed out, any letters for that trainee must be returned to the PSC.  MTIs are never permitted to hold, delay, or withhold trainee mail.  When a letter is returned to the PSC because a trainee was unable to personally receive it from their MTI, it goes back to the PSC, is re-sorted and placed into the mail bin for that flight to be picked up by the MTI on the next delivery day.  Delayed letters are not returned to the sender. 

Q: What is my trainee’s tech school address?
A: Before they graduate, BMT generates a “gaining base” roster with the correct forwarding address for all technical training locations and delivers that list to the postal service center on base.  This permits the PSC to forward any undelivered (or late-arriving) mail to your Airmen at technical training.  There is no action required on the part of trainees or family members to make this happen.

Q: Why does it take so long for Basic Trainees to receive mail?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) With up to 7,000 trainees at BMT on any given day, the Postal Service Center (PSC) is very busy.  There are some private (commercial) entities that promise “delivery receipts” or other assurances that mail has made it into the hands of a trainee, however those delivery notifications (such that they exist) indicate when the mail arrived at the PSC, not the trainee themselves.  With normal sorting and distribution timelines, the time from “delivery receipt” to actual delivery to the trainee can be days.  We understand that mail call is an important event for the morale of our trainees and the idea of them not getting mail in those initial days causes quite a bit of worry among family members.  We always strive to get mail in their hands as quickly as possible.

Q: Do MTIs hold onto mail as a punishment?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Mail is a right, not a privilege. MTIs never hold mail for any reason.  If mail cannot be hand delivered to a trainee on the day it arrives, the mail will be returned to the PSC until the next mail delivery day (Monday-Friday).

Q: What are Basic Trainees allowed to receive in the mail?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Basic Trainees are allowed to receive letters (with photos, if desired, but all photos must be in good taste and reflect the professional atmosphere of BMT).  If a trainee receives a package, it must be opened in the presence of an MTI to ensure no contraband is introduced into the flight.  Any food or other contraband will be thrown away.  Basic Trainees are able to purchase all essential items, and their personal living space has very little storage for extra items, so care packages are not needed or recommended.  Do not send electronics or cameras to your trainee.

Q: Do letters need to be in white envelopes so as to not cause attention?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Trainee mail follows all United States Postal Service rules.  The color of the envelope does not matter. However, please do not send glitter, confetti, or other contents that will make a mess or cards that make noise.

Q: How long does it take for a Basic Trainee to receive their first paycheck?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  It varies, but it usually takes 30-45 days.  If pay issues arise while at BMT, every trainee has the ability to work through their chain of command and with the Air Force finance office to resolve issues.  All trainees are required to set up direct deposit of their paychecks.

Q: What causes a Basic Trainee’s pay to be less than expected?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Upon arrival, Basic Trainees are given advance pay in the form of a $400 prepaid card to purchase essentials. That amount is subtracted from their first paycheck.  Additionally, trainees make decisions regarding allotments, taxes, etc. that may cause their bi-weekly paycheck amount to be less than if calculated without these deductions.

Q: Who qualifies for BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) during BMT?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) All members of the DoD with verified dependents are eligible for BAH.  Some trainees arrive at BMT without having established their dependents in the system of record, which means BAH will likely be delayed.  If a trainee has dependents (spouse, children that they support), all supporting documentation needs to be provided to recruiters and the trainee needs to be prepared to provide those documents during processing.  The packing list for BMT directs what important paperwork should be brought to BMT.  Follow that checklist carefully.

Q: If a Basic Trainee has dependents, how long does it take to receive BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing)?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) It can take several pay periods to start receiving BAH, but the entire amount is due to the trainee and they will receive it once all the appropriate paperwork is received.
 

Q: How is BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) calculated?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) During Basic and Tech Training, BAH is based on the Basic Trainee’s home of record. Once an Airman/Guardian enters the operational Air or Space Force, BAH is based on the location of the Airman’s/Guardian’s first permanent duty station.

Q: Number of Guests: Can more than the six approved guests come onto the base and wait outside the graduation venue?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Our partners at the 502d Air Base Wing Security Forces must perform a background check on any non-DoD ID card holders who wish to visit the installation.  The Visitor Access Request List (VARL) your trainee filled out is the mechanism to provide security forces the information they need to perform that function.  Under current rules, each trainee may request six (6) guests for security forces vetting, enabling them to access the base.  If a trainee has friends or family members who already have DoD ID cards and base access, they do not need to be on the VARL and they can access the base under normal rules.  However, graduated Airmen/Specialists may secure individual passes for additional guests after the graduation ceremonies are over, but they must personally go to the visitor center at the Luke East gate to do so and this can only occur after the graduation activities have concluded and this process is slow and services offered on a first come, first served basis without any preference given to visiting family members.  Graduates cannot telephone sponsor non DoD ID card holders.

Q: Are banners and/or signs allowed at BMT graduation ceremonies?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Yes. Showing squadron and family pride is highly encouraged. However, guests must supply their own equipment to hang banners on the bleacher railings and banners must be removed at the conclusion of the ceremonies.  All signs should be in good taste and reflect the professional environment of BMT.

Q: Are noise makers allowed at BMT graduation ceremonies?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) No, noise makers are not allowed.
 

Q: Are graduating Airmen/Guardians allowed to accept gifts on graduation day?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Gifts such as cards and congratulatory letters are acceptable, but graduates are not permitted to bring large items, nor electronics back to the dormitories after graduation.  Those items must be mailed to their Technical Training location.  Graduates have to be able to carry everything they own when they ship to technical training, including everything we have issued them at BMT.  Loading them down with additional gear takes up valuable space and makes their transition harder.  It’s better to send items through the mail to Technical Training.

Q: Are dependent ID cards issued to spouses of graduating Airmen/Guardians on graduation day?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Dependent ID cards are available at JBSA-Lackland, but the process can take a large chunk of time away from family time, so we recommend dependents get that taken care of another day. ID cards are available by appointment at any DoD installation. Some locations have walk-in hours, but wait times can be lengthy.  If you need to get an ID card, we recommend visiting https://idco.dmdc.osd.mil/idco/ to find the nearest location, to learn what documentation is required, and to schedule an appointment.

Airman's Run

320 TRS Gators wear red.
321 TRS Warthogs wear dark grayish green.
322 TRS Eagles wear blue and gold.
323 TRS Mustangs wear maroon.
324 TRS Knights wear purple.
326 TRS Bulldogs wear dark blue.
331 TRS Wolfpack wear black.
433 TRS Raiders wear gray.

Q:  Where is band flight located?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Each squadron selects Drum & Bugle Corps members from among the trainees who arrive together during 0WOT.  They live and train together and receive all the training that every other basic trainee receives, and they practice for parade! During the Airman’s Coin & Retreat ceremony (on Wednesday), the Drum & Bugle Corps forms up at the back of the formation, centered on the rest of the flights.  During the graduation parade (Thursday), they form up near the center of the parade formation.  In both cases, graduating Airmen must secure their instruments before they are released to their guests.  This is normally a very brief delay.  The graduates are always enthusiastic about returning their instruments and reuniting with their loved ones.  Be patient!

Q: Graduation Schedule
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Graduation week (7th week of training) has two days of public events.  On Wednesday, the Airman’s run kicks off the festivities at 7:30 a.m. (this is when the graduates pass the flag pole at the reception center…you’ll want to be there at least 15 minutes early).  Plan ahead for traffic at the Lackland gates.  When the Airman’s Run event concludes, BMT hosts orientation briefs for families and new spouses in the Pfingston Reception Center (same place where the Airman’s Run happens).  Once those briefings conclude, the next event is the Airman’s Coin and Retreat Ceremony.  It begins at 10:00 a.m. and lasts approximately 35 minutes.  At the conclusion of that ceremony, Airmen and Specialists are released for town pass.  Thursday is Graduation Day!  Guests are invited to the JBSA-Lackland parade grounds for our graduation parade that begins promptly at 9:00 a.m.  The soon-to-be graduates will march from their squadron to the parade grounds over Truemper Bridge, which connects the east and west halves of Lackland.  Family members will want to already be at the parade grounds when this begins because the formation stretches for almost ¼ mile and other pedestrian traffic across the bridge will be held to make room for the formation.  Graduation ends at approximately 9:30 and graduates are released for base liberty (cannot depart the base) at that time.

Q: Tap out/tap out for band flight
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  The tradition of “tap out” where a graduate remains in their formation position until a friend or loved one taps them on the shoulder has persisted for years.  While still honored by many, there is no rule that requires a graduate to stand there waiting.  This is important because not every graduate has guests at graduation and we are often told stories about how sad it is that nobody tapped out a graduate.  This is not a problem and nobody is “stuck” in formation while everyone else is celebrating.  The Drum & Bugle Corps, when comprised of graduates, cannot participate in a tap-out because they are required to secure their instruments before being released.  This does not in any way diminish their status as graduates or conflict with any rules.  It’s a necessity to protect the expensive and fragile equipment of the corps.

Q: Are there bag restrictions at graduation like at concerts and NASCAR races?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) No, however the consumption of alcoholic beverages is not permitted anywhere on the BMT campus.  Additionally, federal law prohibits guests from bringing weapons or drugs onto the installation.  Our partners at Security Forces routinely search vehicles for weapons and drugs and, if found, the visitor is likely to have their base access privileges revoked, which would lead to missing graduation (and could incur fines or jail time).

Q: Is there a dress code for graduation?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) No, however, BMT graduation activities are family events, so any attire that is lewd, offensive, or otherwise distracts from the ceremony is frowned upon and guests who create a disruption may be removed from ceremonies by a member of the BMT staff or Security Forces.

Q: Can graduates leave base during graduation week?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) On Wednesday, graduates are given “town pass” which permits them to leave the installation for a set period of time.  They must remain within the boundaries set by the BMT Commander (inside Loop 1604, generally) and must return to their squadron prior to curfew.  Late returns will result in disciplinary action, including restrictions on the following day’s liberty, or even a recycle to a previous week of training.  Don’t come back late!  On Thursdays, graduates are permitted base liberty, where they are able to relax and enjoy the on-base amenities with their families.  Trainees must return to their squadrons before curfew each night.  Thursday’s curfew is earlier because many trainees have to get up as early as 2:00 a.m. to prepare to ship to technical training.
 

Q: When will my graduate be able to receive visitors or have off-base privileges at Technical Training?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Each Technical Training organization has their own policies and procedures for new arrivals.  Your graduate will be briefed about those rules upon their arrival and, because they are no longer in BMT, they will have access to their phones and will be able to communicate with you easily to keep you informed.  We never want to provide incorrect or outdated information and, since Technical Training does not fall under BMT, we do not post their policies or procedures on our site or answer Technical Training questions.
 

Q: How many guests can attend the ceremony?
A:
(current as of 5 June 2022) Each trainee can invite six guests (18 and older) who require installation access. Children under the age of 18 may accompany parents/guardians and do not require a separate visitor pass.

Q: Are additional guests allowed on the installation?
A:
(Current of 5 June 2022) Each trainee can invite six guests who require installation access. Any individual with a Department of Defense ID card may attend.

Q: Can a DoD ID card holder escort guests to the ceremony?
A:  (current as of 5 June 2022) If a guest is a Department of Defense ID card holder, they may escort individuals onto the installation, and to the ceremony, as long as all parties are in the same vehicle. Escorts are authorized to escort up to 5 visitors at any one time onto any Joint Base San Antonio location. Escorts must physically escort their visitors and remain within reasonable visual contact with the visitor throughout the visitors' stay on the installation. The accepted vehicle ratio is one escort for one vehicle of visitors. Escorts of visitors are responsible and liable for the actions of their visitors while on the installation. Escorts must report any conduct by the visitor that is deemed suspicious, detrimental to the safety and order of the JBSA community. The 802d Security Force Squadron, Base Defense Operations Center will be notified immediately of any incident that risks the safety and welfare of the JBSA community.

Q: Where do I go?  Do you have maps and information about the gates?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Maps of the base are provided here. Information taken from any other web site or source is probably wrong.  I know your recruiters are great, but the book on their desk is not necessarily updated when we update our web page.  Always go to www.basictraining.af.mil for the best and most current information.

Q: I am mobility limited.  How does BMT address my needs?
A: (current as of 4 May 22)  Close-in parking is available near the Pfingston Reception Center and the Parade field.  Official placards must be used.  For those with mobility limitations, but not authorized parking, we encourage family members to drop off their mobility limited loved ones near the event venues, then park in one of our many other locations.  Seating is clearly marked in the Airman’s Arena and ramps are provided at the parade field to access bleachers.

Q: Where can I park?
A: (current as of 4 May 22) Visit https://www.basictraining.af.mil/Home/BMT-Graduation-Information/Parking/ and click on the parking tab for the latest map and information.

Q. I'm taking an Uber/Taxi to the base. Where should I get dropped off?
A:
Most Uber and Taxi drivers will not have base access. You can get dropped off at the Valley Hi or Luke East Gate visitor centers. Both gates are approximately .7 miles walk to the ceremony site. If being dropped off at the Luke East Gate, we recommend you take the pedestrian bridge over the highway for the quickest route to the ceremony site.

BMT photos can be found in the Aim High app and at https://www.flickr.com/photos/gatewaywing/.

Graduation ceremony recordings can be found at https://www.youtube.com/c/GatewayWing.

The graduation events recordings can only be found at https://www.facebook.com/USAFBMT, or on this website. Do not click on any other links.  You should never pay to watch a BMT graduation.  If someone asks you for money, it is a scam.

 

Q: Where can I find the link to the Live Stream?
A:
  (current as of 5 June 2022) As of 9 June the graduation ceremony is no longer live-streamed. There will be a recording of each of the three graduation events posted to social media, and YouTube within a few hours of the event. The live stream was a solution implemented during the height of COVID to ensure families could still witness the event. With the return of visitors to graduations, the 37th Public Affairs office is working to provide a better quality product that can be viewed in multiple locations and will not be limited to social media only. Additionally, the live stream brought with it hundreds of spammers who tried to entice our audience into paying to watch BMT graduations. A recorded product provided in a timely manner will help protect our audiences from falling victim to these spammers.

Q: How do I get my visitor pass?
A:
 (current as of 5 June 2022) During one of the first phone calls home, trainees will get the necessary information to fill out visitor passes. Once processed, passes will be mailed to visitors around the 3rd week of training. You must have your visitor pass, and a proper form of ID, on you when entering the installation.

Q. If I have a DoD ID card, do I also need a pass?
A:
(current as of 5 June 2022) DoD ID cardholders will not require an installation visitor pass. 

Q. I left my access pass at home, or never received it in the mail. How can I get another one?
A:
(current as of 5 June 2022) You may have your installation access pass reprinted at the Luke East Gate Visitor Center. Visitor Center hours are from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. If you need your pass reprinted, it is highly recommended you go on Wednesday to have it reprinted.

Q: If the COVID vaccination required to attend the ceremony?
A:
 Visitors are not required to show proof of COVID vaccination to enter the graduation ceremony. Visitors are encourage to be vaccinated for the health and safety of all attending.

For more information about local conditions due to COVID go to https://www.jbsa.mil/coronavirus/