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I've just spent the better part of 3 hours going back thru posts on this and the Officers site to find information about gift ideas!  The crazy part is that I saw some posts a couple of weeks ago!  Anyway, my son will be commissioning/graduating in May.  I saw something about Ensign boxes and garment bags.  Any other ideas???

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Those were the two items that we got for our son when he graduated OCS.  We got a nice, sturdy luggage-style folding garment bag and took it with us when we flew to graduation.  He was very appreciative, because my son arrived at OCS with just a small carry-on suitcase, and there is no way they can fit all their uniforms and gear into that along with the sea bag they are issued.  So lots of families wind up going to the local Walmart for cheap luggage after OCS graduation to buy stuff to haul all their gear home!!  Beside the garment bag, we took along in our luggage another soft nylon fold-up duffel bag for him.  With his carry-on, sea bag, garment bag, and the soft duffel bag, he managed to pack everything.  They have at least four sets of uniforms, plus shoes/boots and hats.   My son still uses the garment bag when he travels.      

We also gave him an "Ensign box" after he got home that I ordered online.  It looks like a woman's wooden jewelry box with lots of felt-lined compartments.  It is used to store their medals, pins, insignias, etc. when they strip their uniforms to take to the cleaners.  They store their actual medals in it also, because they usually only wear the ribbon part on their uniforms.  I ordered my son's in oak, and had it engraved with the Navy seal, and his name and OCS graduation date.  He really liked it, and actually uses it instead of just throwing everything in a drawer.

Other parents have gotten their new Ensigns an engraved sword, but my son told me he was not interested in a sword.  He said other than using it to form an arch at a military wedding, it would just hang on the wall collecting dust, so he preferred practical gifts; although others might like a sword.

Some have also given an engraved watch, but only certain kinds are allowed with uniforms, I think.  Aviators wear certain kinds of watches, so that may be an option for those going into aviation.

Andy's Mom,
My daughter didn't want anything. She is very picky and preferred to get her own. Garment bags we big in my daughters class.

Thanks for the ideas. I did not even think about a gift and we thought that with the cost of the uniforms, he might be given one with those purchases. Now we know!

My son is leaving for OCS on April 29th and I am trying to educate myself about this whole process and how I can support him. He is leaving with a small carry-on; it never occurred to me that he'd have to transport multiple uniforms after graduation!! Anyway, thank you for the information! I'll get on it!

What do families do after graduation? Do they make reservations for lunch/dinner? Are the graduates allowed to leave to go out to restaurants?


Congrats to your son!  If you scroll thru past posts on this site, you will find that many of your questions have been asked and answered!  Also, find the facebook page for friends and family of you son's class.  13-18 just started yesterday, so his should be 14-18.  You will find it to be very helpful and supportive!  My son will graduate on May 18, so I will share any information as it happens.  Good luck!

Welcome Dana,

After OCS graduation, the new Ensigns are free to leave after they check out of the barracks, IF they have their orders.  A few orders don't straggle in until after graduation in every class, and those sailors must stay at the base in Newport until their orders come in, maybe days or weeks.  I'm sure that they would be allowed to leave the base to be with their families right after graduation, though.  They also have to move all their belongings to other living quarters on the base as they await orders.

My son's orders didn't arrive until Wednesday before graduation on Friday!  Since he was issued 10 days' "travel time" to get to his next duty assignment, he was able to get a ticket on the same flight home as ours, and go home with us, pack all his worldly goods into his truck, and then drive to his next duty.  

Some of them are sent home to work in the local recruiting office for a few weeks if their next school doesn't start a new class for awhile.   So, there is no way to plan on if your son will be able to come home immediately after OCS or not; just depends on the orders, but I'm sure they would be able to spend the rest of the day, at least, with their families, even with no orders.

Thanks for all the helpful advice!  I ordered an Ensign Box from Medals of America.  It's beautiful!  I also got a garment bag from Macy's.  They are having a great sale!!!  My son is a CandiO now!  Hope he likes his boxes we sent!


Congrats to your son for making it to CandiO!    Hope you can go to graduation. Since it will be before Memorial Day, Newport restaurants shouldn't be too crowded yet.  Take plenty of tissues with you to graduation, unless you are less emotional than most.  You will be bursting with pride!  Where is your son headed next?  Is he in aviation, or maybe nuclear power?

After graduation, I hope you will still hang out with us here on "OCS Graduate Moms" and answer questions for the newbies.  You're now a voice of experience!     

M's mom,

Thank you.  And yes!  He will have his immediate family, my 92 year old mom, and some cousins there!  We rented an Air BnB and plan on cooking since we will be so many and the age of my mom.   Plus, he hasn't had a home cooked meal since the end of Feb!  I am so proud of him.  He will be heading to FL as an aviator, whenever a spot opens up for him there!

I do plan on sticking around here.  I remember the ache I felt those first 3 weeks and how invaluable it was to be able to communicate with moms who have been there.  

Where is your son now?  When did he go thru OCS? Good luck to him.


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