When I heard my son may be a Grad & Go, I had a ton of questions. The first one was: What the heck is a Grad & Go?? Now that I've experienced it, I wanted a place for N4M users to come and post questions and hopefully get some answers. Every recruits experience will be slightly different, but there are lots of "norms" that we can share with you that will answer a lot of questions. Remember, there are no stupid questions!
So, what is a G&G? It's a recruit that leaves boot camp before PIR weekend is over to travel to their A-School. They usually fly out on a Saturday, but occasionally on a Friday. This means a limited time to visit with them when you come out for their graduation. Some G&G's are just moving across the street because their A-School will be at GL (Great Lakes). If they are required to move over before PIR weekend ends, they are called a G&G. These two types of G&G's can be quite different, each with it's Pro's and Con's. If they have A-School in GL, but don't move over until after Sunday, they are not considered a G&G.
How do we plan our travel if we don't know? I can only share what others have shared with me. Most everyone made plans as if their recruit was not a G&G. That's what my family did too, and we loved our decision. We flew out Thursday, flew back late Sunday. We enjoyed our Sailor until he flew out Saturday afternoon, then we went and checked out the Chicago area on our own. If you are driving, it's a little easier to change hotel plans a few days before, but flight changes cost $$.
Can we meet them at the airport? YES! The Navy uses all three local airports (O'Hare, Midway and Milwaukee) to transport new sailors to their A-School city. You are allowed to meet your new sailor at the airport and visit with them there. You can even request a special pass from the ticket counter so you can go through security with your sailor and sit with them at the gate! "Most" airlines allow this and they do this free of charge for military families/friends, as long as you have an ID and if your sailor is there with you. You can have a lot of fun at an airport (great food too)!
What if they tell us they are on a Chartered Flight? The charter flights are cheaper for the Navy to use than commercial airlines, so they may be using them more and more. The cost of the flight is pre-determined by the exact weight of everyone and everything onboard. This includes the recruits' seabags. If the parents were to meet the recruits to hand off laptops and other items, now the weight of everything aboard has changed and that may not allowed. Because it's a chartered flight, obviously no one is allowed to go out to the plane to meet their recruits as the plane is not at a regular gate. I know it sucks for the families, but the transportation is all about cost efficiency and isn't concerned about families unable to meet the recruits. This made sound harsh, but the Navy is like other departments in the goverment and needs to keep costs down. New Sailors are not allowed leave and do not have to be granted liberty after bootcamp. Yes, it is customary to receive Liberty after bc, but just know that it's not a right, it's earned.
SEND YOUR RECRUIT THE G&G QUESTIONS POSTED IN THE DISCUSSION AREA TO THEM NOW SO YOU WILL KNOW THE INFORMATION BY PIR DAY!
Can we give them their cell phones? That depends. If you are meeting them at the airport (whether you pass security gate or stay in front lobby), then YES, you can give them cell phone, ipod and even their laptops (don't forget to pack all the chargers/cords!). As long as they can carry it onboard the plane, they can take and keep these items with them at A-School. They "check" their big 55lbs sea bags in with the airlines, so they have no carry on except their manilla envelope (their orders). If you had too much fun shopping at Gurnee Mills Mall that weekend, they are allowed to have a small backpack or gym style bag - but be sure it's a solid dark color (Black or Navy Blue), free from adornment if possible. If they are a G&G over to Great Lakes for A-School, they can have these items AFTER they are processed into that base. In other words, once they call you to pick them up after moving over, then you can give them their "toys". I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, but it has been noted by many recent N4M members that those who are a G&G to Great Lakes ONLY, and that move over to A-School on that Friday right after PIR, only those families they are allowed to keep their new sailor with them all weekend. Once they have actually completed the move on Friday (takes 5-7 hrs), you can pick them up and have them overnight for the entire weekend!!! They may have to muster (roll call/check in) over the weekend, but otherwise they have liberty. There is NO OTHER situation that I am aware of that allows a new sailor to stay away overnight after PIR. Those who are G&G's that are flying out that weekend are NOT allowed to stay overnight with their family, they must go back to RTC (boot camp) that Friday night.
The HARD FAST RULE IS: Your new Sailors can't bring anything back with them to boot camp. They are considered to be in bc while they remain on the RTC (Recruit Training Command) side, even if they have already graduated. Handing them money or a debit/credit card is okay, because they are allowed to have their wallets at boot camp, but you can't give them their cell phones or anything else if they have to report back to boot camp that night. Wait until you see them at the airport!