true life: i’m a ranger school wife — hey, mr. postman.

“Hey, Mr. Postman.” If you’re like me, you’ll be saying this a lot, because since “Day 1,” I’ve sent a letter to Andrew every day. You and the postman will probably become buddies. Hey, maybe he’ll even be your battle buddy!?! Just kidding…

My mailman must think I’m a lunatic, sending so much mail. But I don’t mind; I embrace the crazy. I write  because it helps me feel connected to my ranger. I feel like I’m telling him the day’s stories over dinner. It makes me feel like he is a part of parenting our daughter during this time, of the decisions I’m making and of our daily life. It makes me feel like even though he’s not with me, he’s still my partner. I think it helps Andrew, too. Besides being a morale booster, I think he feels connected to us through the mail I send him; he’s not going to have to play catch up when he comes home. I also think he likes my mail because it’s not just letters I’m sending…it’s good stuff! Read on…

Here are a few things I’ve learned about sending mail to your ranger:
  • Most importantly, if you ask me, KISS: keep it simple, silly. Don’t send your ranger a hot pink envelope, covered in stickers, drenched in your perfume and sealed with a lipstick kiss. You really don’t want to draw attention to him- positive or negative. Anything that makes him a target for ranger games is a no-go, and this includes your mail. Wouldn’t you feel awful if he had to do 100+ push-ups because of you (even though you had great intentions)? So, send your mail in a plain old envelope, with plain old stamps and plain old return address labels. Save the other stuff for inside!!
  • Find out his company, platoon, squad and roster number. You can send mail to him without any of this (since you’ll already know his class number). But addressing it with this information should make it easier to get it to your ranger. Andrew sent me his info in his first letter.
Letter to Ranger School
  • Use the same stationary for all of your letters. It makes letters from you easy to spot (and  it makes for a great keepsake at the end of the course).
  • Keep a clipboard with your stationary and pen with you all the time. That way, when you have a minute or think of a funny story, or need to vent, it’s right there for you. Writing is much less of a chore when it’s just a part of daily life. I mostly write sitting on the couch while the baby sleeps. Sometimes I write standing at the kitchen counter. Other time’s I write at the desk. Make it easy on yourself!
  • I always start letters the same way: the day, date and day of the course in the top right corner; the page number in the top left (they tend to go on and on…); and then Dear Andrew… Consistency is a good thing, and it helps keep letters to your ranger in order (since he may not receive them that way).
  • Write from your heart. It can be as boring as the events of the day or as romantic as a poem. Just write what you feel. I know a lot of people say to keep your letters upbeat and positive; you don’t want to bring your ranger down. But for me, sometimes I share the bad times anyway. I like to be honest, and I want to keep him in the loop. I don’t go crazy or over exaggerate. I just get it down on paper and make sure he knows that we’re okay now, we’ll be fine and that the bad part is over. In some ways, I think it’s a good reminder to him that we are strong enough to keep soldiering on, even while he’s away. He doesn’t worry about us, because he knows we’ve got it together.
  • Write about the weather. Cliche? Yes. Essential? Yes. If you can give your ranger a heads up on the forecast that week, it could make all the difference when they go out on their patrols! At the very least, they know what to expect. So make like Al Roker, and drop it like it’s hot.
  • Write about what he likes. Andrew likes sports, so I’ve been sending him updates on his fantasy football team (which I am also managing for him while he’s gone). I print out stats, match-ups and scores. Hopefully it’s a good distraction for him. If it’s politics your guy is into, send him election updates. The lastest iPhone release for the tech geek. Whatever he’s into, keep him in the loop!
  • Send gum. Pull out a few sticks of gum and tape them to the inside of your envelope, lying flat. From what I understand, gum is like currency, and he can barter with it.
    Gum in letter to Ranger School

  • Andrew took tons of mint gum with him when he left, thinking it would keep him fresh and awake. But in his second letter, he mentioned that he wished he had brought fruity gum (Extra). I think he must be craving food that badly. So I ran right out and started sending watermelon, strawberry shortcake and tropical gum to him. I send five sticks of gum in almost every letter I mail out.
  • UPDATE (from Mountains): In Darby Phase, Andy had to open all of his mail in front of the RIs, and they ended up taking the gum away from him. It didn’t get him in trouble, they just took it. He said guys in other companies were able to keep it, though. So I think it was different for everyone. For this phase, with his permission, I taped two sticks of gum to the inside of the actual letters. He said it’s been getting through no problem! I don’t know if it’s the RIs or my stealthiness. Either way, for what it’s worth, what he couldn’t have in Darby, he can in the mountains…
    • Send pictures. I send pictures of the baby to Andrew every other day or so. I print two wallet size photos. Then I use double sided tape and stick them back to back. I cut them out.  And finally, I laminate them with his laminating paper (although packing tape would work, too). Then I pop these water-resistant reminders of home into a letter.

    Pictures in letter to Ranger School

    • Scan or copy all the pages of your letters before you mail them out. That way if your pages get wet or wrecked out in the field, you still have backups at home to look back on in years to come.
    • Number your envelopes on the outside. I put the number on the back top right corner. That way, he knows if he’s receiving my mail chronologically or if he needs to shuffle them around when he gets them.
    • Send your final piece of mail on the Monday before the end of each phase. This is to make sure that your ranger receives everything you send him. I’m pretty sure they don’t forward anything (although rumors say they might)…
    • Send care packages. You can send two care packages. One at the end of Mountains, that they get less than an hour to eat, and one at the end of Swamps, that they receive and can eat on the bus back to Fort Benning. Gatorade, food, candy, magazines. Send it all. If they aren’t allowed something (like caffeine or protein bars), it will be taken away by the Ranger Instructors. And anything they don’t finish in time will just be tossed. Make sure to send your packages with enough time to get there. As one ranger put it, “It is a serious morale killer if you’re the only one without a box.” Although guys will share, you don’t want your ranger to be that guy.
    And here are a few things I’ve learned about getting mail from your ranger:
    • Pre-address and stamp envelopes, and pack them with your ranger. That way he just has to write, seal it and mail it. The easier you make it for him, the more likely you’ll receive mail from him.
    • Ask your ranger to write whenever he has a spare moment. No pressure, obviously, but they do a lot of waiting around in lines. So if it crosses his sleep-deprived mind, maybe he could take a minute to jot down even just a few sentences.
      • The first letter I got from Andrew was seven pages of a pocket notebook paper. He had written a paragraph per day (sometimes a few times a day) about what was going on at the time. In front of each paragraph, he notated the date and time. This was so helpful, because I could look back at the schedule and see the corresponding events he was writing about. After a few days, he put it all the pages in to one envelope and mailed it out.out to me in one letter.
    • Make sure he has a letter ready to send out when he sees the chaplain.
      • Andrew wrote that he didn’t think he’d be able to send out another letter after his first one, because they were going out to the field. But he found out, probably from seasoned rangers, that the chaplain takes mail and sends it out for them (super promptly)! Andrew saw the chaplain on Saturday, the surprise letter was postmarked Monday and I received it on Tuesday (quick- because I live on post)! That letter came even faster than the first one he sent out, which I received the next day.
    • Take requests. If your ranger needs you to pick up supplies for him for the 8-hour pass or if he’s hoping for certain foods for his package, ask him to write it in a letter to you during the phase. That way you can take care of things at home and save time!
    What tips do you have about Ranger School Mail?

    Comments

    1. I think you have a future as a self-help author!! Great tips.

    2. That fruity gum tastes awesome. It was a nice treat to have. Your care package advice is right on. Send it with enough time too….it is a serious morale killer if you’re the only one without a box. Guys will share though. ~Micah

      • Good tip, Micah! I’ll add that to the post. I know girls who add tracking to their package so they know it gets there. I’m pretty sure I’ll bump up the shipping to be 100% sure. That would be REALLY sad if he didn’t get his in time…

    3. You can send care packaged to ranger school?!? Wow I’m pretty much the worst wife ever, lol! I had no idea! And gum in the envelopes is pure genius!! I wish someone had told me this stuff…

      • You’re not! You just didn’t know! I didn’t either, until I started researching like a madwoman! That’s actually the reason I started this little Ranger School series. Hopefully, I can help future families going through RS! Spread the word…

    4. This is amazing, thank you! My boyfriend just finished RAP today (no phone call so hopefully this means he’s off to Darby?) and I”m trying to make sure I’m on top of all this.. I heard somewhere that ladies are also sending packages for the end of Darby.. do you happen to know if they get packages after Darby or if I should just wait till the mountains?

      • Woohoo! Congrats, Julia! I’m pretty sure they can receive packages at the end of Darby (if it arrives earlier, they just hold it until the final mail call of the phase- the morning of the eight hour pass). I remember seeing guys walking around inside the gates, as I waited to pick Andy up for pass, with three flat rate boxes stacked up. I’ll bet they were taking them on pass to chow down on treats from their loved ones who couldn’t be there in person to spoil them!

    5. Hi!
      My boyfriend just left for Ranger School this sunday. When can I send him his first care package? I am confused as to when they can get them and I dont want to send one too early! Thanks!

      • Hi Amanda! I didn’t send Andy a package during Darby since we were able to see him on Day 19, the Friday of pass before Mountains started. But if you’re not going to be able to see your boyfriend on pass, I recommend sending your care package probably about a week before he’s to get pass. If the RIs receive packages early, they should hold it for the Rangers and give it to them right before they go on pass. If they recycle, they should get it sometime that weekend. So you just want to send it with plenty of time to spare, in case random weather or human error prevents the mail from going through quickly. (You might double check with the ladies in your husbands class as to when they are sending stuff, too.)

    6. oh okay thanks!! So they don’t get the care packages as they come in the mail? They are held until they go on pass?

      • Right. They don’t receive packages until the end of each phase.

        The only exception is if you are sending them Army-related gear (gloves, socks, compass) and you mark TA-50 on the outside of the box very obviously. Then it is possible, if the RIs are feeling generous, that they will be given their box ahead of time. But if there is anything in the box besides TA-50, it will surely be confiscated.

    7. Thank you so much! I am so new at all of this and feel so lost so it is nice to talk to someone about it! I may have more questions for you! thanks again!! Also how did you ship like brownies and stuff and I want to do like cake in a jar but I want them all to still be good and last…

      • I packed cookies in Gladware and crossed my fingers! Andy never said anything had gone bad by the time it got to him… Cake in a jar sounds delicious!!

        Feel free to ask as many questions as you need! I’m here to help if I can!

    8. Hi Allison. Thanks so much for your information on ranger school. I really didn’t know what to expect at all and reading your posts have helped. None of my friends understand my situation so it’s tough. My hubby also just left for ranger school on Sunday too like Amanda. Amanda- his team sergeant told me to send his care package by the 14th.

      • Rachel- I’m so glad you’ve found it helpful so far! I totally know what it feels like to not know what to expect, with no one to ask. I wish there was a Ranger School FRG or Chaplain to communicate with all the families at home, because 9 weeks (minimum) away is taxing enough as it is…then add all the uncertainty!? It’s so tough! If there is anything I can help you with, just let me know! Good luck! RLTW (Rangers Lead The Way)!

      • Also- I just wanted to make sure you saw Amanda comment, below yours. She was reaching out and attached her email. Maybe you two could be battle buddies!!

    9. Rachel thats great! It is tough! Thanks so much for the information! I have no one that understands either it is hard! If you ever want to talk please feel free! It may help both of us and if either of us know info the other one doesnt! My email: abelhilo@g.cofc.edu

    10. Amanda and Rachel says:

      Hey again! So Rachel and I have been chatting for awhile and are now friends but we have a question…we both never heard from our guys the weekend of their supposed “8 hour pass”. It was definitely this weekend. I talked to my boyfriend’s roommate who knows a ranger instructor and he told him that they took away the 8 hour pass. It is now Sunday and neither of us heard from our guys. She just got her first letter yesterday and I didnt even get one yet. Do you know of anything like this happening or whats going on? Thanks!

      • Hey ladies! I’ve actually been following this situation; we have a friend in your class. From what I’ve heard, a sensitive item was lost at Darby and there is an investigation with CID. But the guys who were not involved directly or were not recycled were bussed straight up to the mountains. Some people saw debit card transactions from Dahlonega on their accounts yesterday, meaning their guys made it there. I got all this info from the Ranger School Wives 2013 page on Facebook. If you’re not on it, make sure you join up to meet other ladies in the same boat! The Ranger School adage is always, “No news is good news.” My fingers are crossed for you!!

    11. brittany says:

      Hey ladies. My . boyfriend just started ranger school. He is class 6-14 and today is day 1. I just wanted to ask two things.
      1) are we able to send care packages at the end of each phase?
      2) I did not get his company yet so can I still send letters without that written down

      Thank you
      I never thought my emotions would be all over the place. I give each and every woman a lot of credit for being loving and supportive.

      • Hi Brittany! Welcome to Ranger School! You definitely can send packages at the end of each phase, and if you read my posts for each phase, you’ll see what I ended up sending and when (hope that’s helpful). Also, you can certainly send him letters without knowing his company. Just put as much information as you can following the address format. What you don’t know, you’ll probably learn when you receive a letter from him in the future or when you talk on the phone at the end of each phase. Good luck to both you and your boyfriend during these next few weeks! It’s a rough road, but one worth traveling! RLTW (Rangers Lead The Way)!

    12. Allison…thank you so much for this amazing resource…this is my husband’s second time being sent to Ranger School…the first time was right out of IBOLC and it was just too soon….wish I had something like this then though. We both feel so much better about RS this time around…so hopefully!! 🙂 It’s so nice to read what you experienced and how to get through it…thanks again!

    13. Does anyone have a loved one going to ranger school in September? I am a South African girl dating an American so all the military “stuff” is very new to me. Would appreciate any advice. My boyfriend is also going to preranger so it’s going to be a long time apart. ..

      • Hey Gemma- You should check on Facebook for the 2014 Ranger School Girlfriends/Fiances/Wives groups (just use any variation of those keywords). There are definitely others going through what you will be soon! If there are any questions you have unanswered by my Ranger School posts, please let me know and I’ll be happy to try to help! Good luck!

    14. Hello can someone email me please about sending letter gisellecartel@gmail.com please he starts ranger school this week

    15. How do you know what company they are In to put on the address?

    16. Hi!!! The longer you don’t hear from them is that a good sign I’ve sent letters but no reply it’s about to be 14 days and fx is coming up so u doubt I’ll get a letter 🙁 on passes do they get there cell phones back ?!?!

      • Hi Carmen- Usually no news is good news. When my husband went through, some guys never wrote home, so that could be the case for you. On pass after the first phase, I wouldn’t count on them having their cell phones back but they should have access to the pay phones. If they end up doing their refit (trip to the px, barber, Ranger Joe’s, etc), he’ll probably find a way to call you to let you know how it’s going. If he recycles, they definitely get a chance to call from the pay phones . Check out the dates to look out for here for more info on things like this.

    17. I also sent him a extra envelope with a scented flower in it I regret it now cause It was kinda stuffed :'( I hope he doesn’t get in trouble or teased

    18. Tatiana says:

      What if I forgot to put the new roster #? But everything else was correct??

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