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
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.
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.