Guest Post: Marine OCS Guide on Family Sending Their Candidate Mail

This guest post courtesy of our friends at Marine OCS Guide. I would highly recommend you study all the great information they have up, and of course, send the below to your friends and family!

While at Officer Candidates School, receiving mail is often one of the most enjoyable moments of any candidate’s day. However, there are certain thing that should and shouldn’t be done as a candidate and as parents/significant others/friends when receiving and sending mail. I’ll address this post to two different groups, first the parents, significant others, or friends sending mail to a candidate at Marine OCS. After I address that, I’ll discuss what candidates should and shouldn’t do when sending and receiving mail at Quantico.

Parents and others sending mail:

At Officer Candidates School, mail is distributed every day except Sunday. When your candidate arrives at Officer Candidates School, he/she will send you a letter in the first few days informing you of his/hers new address which will look the address listed below. Candidates find out their company and platoon upon arrival, so don’t attempt to figure out beforehand, you’ll just have to wait a few days for the exact address.

Candidate Last name, First, MI.
___ Company, ___Platoon
Officer Candidates School
2189 Elrod Avenue
Quantico, Virginia 22134-5033

Candidate families greeting their successful candidates on Family Day, OCC 209
Candidate families greeting their successful candidates on Family Day, OCC 209

When sending mail to a candidate at Officer Candidates School, it’s important to be positive and encouraging. Your candidate will likely be under a great deal of stress, so the last thing you want to do is cause him/her more stress by sending discouraging letters. When you do send your candidate a letter, make sure to send it in a normal, discrete looking envelope. Sending any outrageous post cards, funny stickers, etc won’t cheer up your candidate as much as they will cause some ridicule from the Sergeant Instructors.

I would encourage you not to send food to your candidate, unless it’s specifically asked for. Any food items sent to a candidate are considered contraband and placed in the staff duty hut until liberty, when the items are released to the candidates temporarily until liberty is over. If you do choose to send food to your candidate, make sure it’s not perishable, because as previously mentioned, your candidate can’t consume it until the next liberty.

As far as pictures go, the Sergeant Instructors in my platoon did not consider them contraband unless they were deemed inappropriate material (you know what I’m talking about here, don’t be silly, don’t send them!). Personally, I’m a big New York Jets fan and my parents sent me newspaper clippings about the team and that was considered acceptable.

Candidates Receiving Mail:

Ah, mail time. At Officer Candidates School, you’ll learn to love it. It’s the one moment to escape the reality that is ragging Sergeant Instructors, the Endurance Course, inspections, etc. Receiving an encouraging letter is exactly what some candidates need to make it through the toughest days in Quantico, so encourage your family and friends to send letters as often as possible. However, there are a few things to be careful about.

If you receive any sort of contraband in your letters, make sure to immediately turn it in to your Sergeant Instructors. They will not be angry at you, they will simply take whatever item you received and place it in the duty hut for safe keeping until liberty. If you choose to hide the contraband, you run the risk of getting caught and becoming an integrity violator.

A candidate from OCC-209 greeting his son on Family Day
A candidate from OCC-209 greeting his son on Family Day

One quick story of what not to do during mail call at OCS.

One member of my platoon received a stick of gum in a letter during mail call. He neglected to inform our Sergeant Instructors that he had received contraband (the stick of gum) in his letter. Little did he know, the Gunnery Sergeant distributing the mail felt the envelope and knew exactly what was inside. After lights out at 2100, every Sergeant Instructor in the duty hut stormed out and berated the candidate while he lied in his rack for his integrity violation. The mentioned candidate was ALMOST kicked out of OCS for a stick of gum, so don’t be silly, report all contraband or you will get caught.

OCS Family Mail in Review:

As stated earlier, receiving mail at OCS is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the experience. I still remember exactly what friends sent me letters while at Quantico and I’m personally still grateful for it. Just remember that every piece of mail is inspected and subjected to review, so parents shouldn’t send anything you don’t want a Sergeant Instructor to see with your child’s name on it. And as candidates go, if you receive anything you think is questionable in the slightest bit, ask your staff if it’s contraband! You’ll save yourself an integrity violation or worse.

For the official Officer Candidates School website’s recommendations on Family and Mail, check out this link HERE.

Thank you so much to Marine OCS Guide for authoring this guest post. Be sure to check out their website and follow them on facebook and twitter!

14 thoughts on “Guest Post: Marine OCS Guide on Family Sending Their Candidate Mail

  1. Question: Can a candidate receive OCS-relevant, non-contraband packages in the mail? My brother is attending OCC-212 right now, and I’m thinking of buying him two pairs of Thorlo socks on Amazon and having them shipped straight to Quantico. Would this be a problem? Thanks!

      1. Thanks so much! Your blog is an invaluable resource for both candidates and families. Keep up the fantastic work, you’re doing a lot of good!

      2. Do you have any other ideas as to what to send that is practical and useful? Right now they are heading into week 3. Anything helps. Oh, also my fiance is there and before he left he requested I send a gift certificate for massages….i realize this is contraband. Will he get to use something like that later on for liberty?

      3. The gift card to local massage place is a great idea! He can access it during liberty. He won’t need any stuff but encouragement, distraction, news, even comics out of the newspaper are great diversions. Being at OCS feels like being cut off from the real world. Anything you can write to him even just about what you’re up to would be a welcome diversion from his day-to-day grind!

  2. I want to send my friend a letter in USMC OCS, but I do not know his company or platoon. If I mail him a letter without this information, will he still receive ti?

    1. Lewis, you don’t want to do that. The first week at OCS, he will be able to mail his new address to his family or whoever is closest to him. Just wait until he makes his new information available before you make life harder for him by sending unauthorized mail to him.

  3. I have a friend in OCS right now and he knows that I would like to write to him. Will he be able to send out multiple letters indicating his address or should I contact his family to get his exact address.

    1. Yes, he will be able to send out multiple letters sharing his address, but due to time constraints, it’s likely he only sends out one. It’s a good idea to reach out to family to see if they hear from him first.

  4. My boyfriend is in OCS right now and I was wondering what all can they do during Liberty? Also, can they call, and if so, for how long can they talk and on which days? What time does Liberty start and end?
    One more question, Valentine’s Day is coming up, so am I allowed to send him a card?
    Thanks so much!!
    -Brittany

    1. Hi Brittany,
      If they get Liberty, it will usually be 24 hours over the weekend. They can leave the OCS area, go get a hotel, call you, sleep, eat, whatever they want within reason. Usually it starts midday Saturday.
      For Valentine’s, definitely send any cards or letters but not food or gifts. Keep in mind they won’t have much privacy when receiving mail.
      Best of luck!

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