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**UPDATE - 2020**

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My son asked me to send books to him that were military history yesterday to share.  He said preferably not Navy or Unbroken because there was an abundance of those.  I put out a request to my neighbors, friends & family on social media.  The generosity was incredible.  I had many people asking for his address to send him books.  I received a bag of books on my doorstep today that do not meet the criteria of military books, so I'm unsure of sending them.  There are over a dozen books of word searches, sudoku, crossword puzzles.  Can anyone tell me if these books will be accepted or do I need to tear out the pages of all tgese books to send daily?  I dont want to get my son in trouble, so any input is greatly appeciated.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Leah--

I'm so sorry about your son's injuries. I told my son about it and he says your son is far more patient than he is. If he'd gone back to RCU days after he left he'd have been beyond consolation.

My son left RCU in May so this information may be dated. That said, we weren't allowed to send any books at all on any topic to our son in RCU. Did your son ask about getting military history books? I hope so and I hope he got the okay. Otherwise every book sent to him will be thrown away.

As far as the puzzle books go, those were also prohibited and anyone caught with one was in serious trouble. I printed puzzles out and tucked them into letters so they weren't obvious unless the POs et al actually read his letters, which is possible but not likely. Tearing out pages will work but he'll have to hide what he's doing while solving them.

When my son was there the only things we could send were money, calling cards, greeting cards and letters. Anything else was banned and he could have gotten into trouble depending on who found it, etc.

One thing to know: they do periodic sweeps of the unit looking for banned material: books, magazines, etc. If found they often take away the entire unit's next phone call home.

I'd ask my son before sending the puzzle books and let people know that unless the books have been approved by the current command, your son won't be allowed to have them and the books will end up in the trash.

I hope the current commander has half a heart and allows it. The RDC in command while my son was in RCU didn't have one.

Best of luck to your son and you. The four months my son spent in RCU were terrible for my husband and me and I can't imagine doing it twice.

Thank you so much for the information.  I sent him a sandboxx letter with a picture of the books.  Now to wait & see if he can donate them.  Even to the hospital woukd be great for the kids that are hospitalized like Jarrod was for his knee surgery.  i just don't want the books trashed.  My neighbors were so generous in donating them for our kids.

I know exactly what you mean. My son's birthday passed with him in RCU and all I could do for him was coordinate a birthday card bomb. He got almost a hundred cards and had to send a large envelope home because he ran out of space to keep it all.

It's so hard to figure out how to help our kids in this situation. Knowing just how stark the environment is doesn't help at all.

I really hope the new RCD allows the books, even if it's just adding them to the very small collection the SRs are allowed to read on occasion. Imaging all those books thrown out irks the crap out of me.

I have six Sandboxx credits I don't need and would like to give to a mom with a child in RCU. If you're interested message me and we'll figure out how to transfer them to you. I know I can do it but didn't ask about the details when I asked the Sandboxx people about it.

Hang tough or as someone told me, Semper Gumby. ;)

Does anyone have any information about what goes on in the RCU on a daily basis. From what I've read so far it's worse than prison. I wonder if they allow the recruit to study Navy materials or do any physical activities while they "wait to heal"?  Do they provide information on physical therapy, stretching exercises, nutrition for healing, etc? My SR is seriously struggling with wanting to separate out, rather than sit on his hands for an interminable amount of time. I'm trying to talk him out of that option, since he only just arrived in the RCU but the horror stories he's hearing in there are making him crazy. One guy with a similar condition (stress fractures) said he'd already been in BC RCU for 7 months! I really doubt my SR's medical issue is that severe but if it is, how can I be a support to him, if he's not even allowed to do anything during the day? Do they allow them to read books? (I'm hearing yes, and no) Please advise this worried, anxious momma bear!

Hi Suzi—

I can’t type well enough on he phone to give you a full response but I will this morning.

Shortly, know that your son’s reaction is normal. RCU is in fact a bad place to be but your son and you can get through it.

More soon. Hang in!

Hi Suzi--

My son completely severed his fibia January 23rd of last year, six days before graduation. He was in RCU until May 9th. Those five months were the most difficult months of his life to this point. It's the ultimate reference point for bad in his life. When something is tough he asks himself, "is it worse than RCU?" If the answer is no, he's comforted and so far the answer has always been no.

I don't know what rating your son is going for and you shouldn't tell me publicly. That said, if his rating requires mental/psychological resilience he'll develop it in RCU.

It's been well over a year since my son left RCU so some of what he experienced may have changed as the RDC over RCU changes. Most of it is constant however.

SRs in RCU cannot receive anything in the mail but letters, cards, small photos, calling cards, cash and stamps. No books, no music, no magazines, no food items, nothing else. Unannounced searches are common and when contraband material is found the entire unit suffers, including revoking the next call home. When my son was there he could call home every other Sunday and had a couple of calls revoked when someone else was caught with contraband materials.

That said, send lots of the items in bold. They need calling cards to call home, and stamps for letters sent out.

Be aware that sending anything via Fed Ex, UPS or USPS Priority Mail is meaningless. Once mail arrives at GL, it goes into the base mail system and can be lost or delayed. My son never got approximately a third of the letters we sent. When you send cash, stamps and/or calling cards, don't send a lot in one envelope. Sounds nuts I know, but it's best to send several envelopes and risk one lost than put everything in one and have it disappear into the Great Lakes Black Hole. Been there done that.

Each SR is permitted to read their copy of the "United States Navy Basic Military Training Recruit Trainee Guide" unless specifically denied. They are also allowed to attend religious services each Sunday morning if they choose and if I recall correctly the Bible was also permitted unless specifically denied.

The RCU has a small collection of books SRs can read if they choose. I don't know how many or any details about the subjects, etc.

The common room has a television but my son said he never saw it turned on while he was there.

My son's days differed as his time there progressed. At first all he was allowed to do was lie in bed or sit in a chair all day. Conversation between SRs was NOT allowed most of the time. He was appointed Master of something or other about two weeks after his arrival, which required him to ensure the bathrooms were clean, supplies full, etc. He also had to keep other SRs in line, which he did not enjoy.

A couple of months into his convalescence, he was assigned to yeoman work and THIS is the best thing your SR can do for himself/herself. Tell your SR to ask for this assignment. It's office work, sitting at a desk doing paperwork all day, but it got my son out of the unit and doing something productive. He also got to know all the NCOs and officers, which helped him when he needed something from the NEX or an answer to a question. The yeoman work kept him sane and distracted from the very unpleasant turn his life had taken and the unknowns in his future.

It's common for NCOs or others to attempt to try to talk an SR in RCU into separating. That didn't happen to my son but he saw it happen to others. If your son is really committed to joining the Navy he'll have to resist the urge to give up and that's incredibly hard at the start.

We got a call from our son before we received his first letter. He warned us on the phone that the letter would sound awful and that he'd pulled himself out of that funk enough to be willing to endure RCU. He was right, the letter did read like a plea from the damned and I admit I cried over it.

Tell your SR that there are plenty of true horror stories but a lot depends on him, his attitude and his willingness to put up with a lot of crap to get to the other side. If he can get into the yeoman position it'll help tremendously. As hard as it can be, resist the urge to get/hide contraband materials. Once the RDC/Officers/PO's trust him, he'll get more privileges and such. It's kind of like basic in that way.

I sent my son a letter every day of the five plus months he was there. He spent his 20th birthday there and I coordinated a card bomb for him. It was all I could do for him and he said it lifted his spirits a lot (he was still in the early stages of RCU then.) I printed song lyrics for him, found funny stories online to print and send, anything I could think of to make him smile. I did sneak some printed out puzzles into his letters and he said he worked them during lights out and other times when he doubted he'd be caught. But since the puzzles, etc. were among his letters in permitted envelopes any searches wouldn't have found them.

You know your boy best and know what will make him laugh or bring him comfort. If you can put in in ink on a piece of paper, do it and send it.

If I missed something or you want to know anything else, feel free to ask. I started a thread when my son went it with Fractured Fibia in the title and there's some details there. I met another mom in that thread whose son was in RCU with mine. Having her to talk with helped me tremendously. I hope you find someone like that.

The worst part is that it's completely out of your hands Mama Bear. That was soooooooooo hard for me but like my boy, I had to just take it. Hugs to you. I'm sorry. :-(


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