What to Expect When You Are Expecting a New Soldier: Ft. Benning Graduation (Ask Molly)

A Reader Asks:

Hi, I saw your blog you posted a while ago about being an army wife. I was looking on google to find information on family day and graduation. My fiance is in Ft Benning right now at basic. When do you first get to see them? While you are sitting in the stands or before that? And then after they are dismissed on family day, how long do we get to spend with them. Also, do they get to spend the night with us, or do they have to go back that night? Then after graduation the next day, do we get to spend the day with them? Or even a couple days? I hope you can answer my questions. I would really appreciate it. Feel free to say anything else also. Thank you

Like everything else with the military, your mileage may vary (YMMV). A lot depends on the AIT your husband is attending, when it starts, and the specific command.

I would not expect any overnight passes. However, I have heard tell of some soldiers receiving 36 hour passes following graduation when their AIT was not set to begin right away. Do not count on it though, most likely he will be in transit to AIT the day after graduation.

Soldiers with visiting adult family members will get day passes (meaning they have to be back that night) following both family day and graduation–please note, however, that to the Army you do not yet qualify as a “family member.” So, a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian would have to sign your soldier out.

You may want to read my experience of family day and graduation. I describe when I first saw him and how much time we had together and where we spent our family time. Keep in mind this was about five years ago and my husband was going on to an OCS class that did not start for a while. My guess, though, is that your family day and graduation ceremony experience will be very similar.

Visit military family forums, like the forums hosted by Military.com, and you may find someone with a more recent experience to relate.

In terms of advice, I would recommend getting a hotel room for at least both nights because you’ll probably want a private place to sit and relax and your soldier may even want a short nap. Ft. Benning has good, inexpensive lodging, (Ft. Benning Lodging) but sometimes it is difficult to reserve a room. They were in the process of renovating and the rooms they had already fixed up were quite nice–one time I got a room with a sitting room and efficiency kitchen. They do keep some rooms available for “day of” walk-ins, but you’ll want to make sure you have a back-up plan.

The key is to avoid staying on Victory Drive. Victory Drive is that unsavory main road that seems to be located near almost every military post. Don’t choose a hotel on Victory Drive and you should be fine.

I found the La Quinta in Columbus, GA, to be very adequate and one of the closer, decent but inexpensive choices. There are plenty of decent options off the highway a few exits north of the central Columbus area.

There is also a very nice Marriot, that does sometimes offer military rates, right in the small, historic center of Columbus, GA, and some bed and breakfast places if you are looking for something more luxe. However, keep in mind that there is a good chance your soldier will not be able to stay overnight with you.

Your soldier will probably be most interested in you, a nap, caffeine, and a good meal. Let him take the lead about how he’d like to spend his little bit of free time.

I’ll leave you with the official word from one of the Basic Training commands at Ft. Benning (I bolded some of the text):

Family Day
The day before graduation, normally Wednesday, the battalion commander meets with friends and family members at their unit to discuss your soldier’s recent experiences and answer your questions. You will also meet the drill sergeants that trained your soldier and observe some demonstrations of soldier skills. Most importantly, you will meet with your soldier.

That afternoon graduating soldiers with visiting adult family members (spouse, parents, grandparents or legal guardians) may receive an on-post pass on Family Day and following graduation until a time determined by the chain of command. While on pass soldiers must remain in uniform and are not allowed to drive vehicles, drink any form of alcoholic beverages or use any tobacco products.

Graduation Day
Graduation is the following day, usually on Thursday at Pomeroy Field. The ceremony is at 10:00 a.m. from October through March and 09:00 a.m. from April through September. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place at the Regimental Chapel and the time schedule may change to accommodate more than one ceremony.

Day After Graduation
The day after graduation soldiers will usually not be allowed to go on pass. This day is designated as a travel day for their follow on Advance Individual Training (AIT).

Class Schedule
Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) manages class schedules.

* FY 2008
* FY 2009

Note: Graduation dates shown here are subject to change. Soldiers are afforded the opportunity to contact families with actual graduation dates/times for travel planning purposes.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. zurka says:

    Hi, your blog is great – somehow I fell on to it – probably through blogher! And I am glad I did, you are giving so much information to all the “newbies”! I work for an amazing company called my stone company. We have a great give back gift called the friendship stone. http://www.thefriendshipstone.com Recently, someone donated 864 friendship stones to the Walter Reed Hospital in DC. We were so honored that our gift was chosen for the amazing donation. The friendship stone is all about friendships, about the connection we have with our friends, loved ones and the people around us. I now think that the friendship stone is a great gift for a wife – a new military wife to give to her husband – whether he is in basic or is pulling out. The friendship stone can be in his pocket and will act as a constant reminder of their connection of their love. Just a thought…..
    Continue writing – I will continue to check into your site! Peace to all of us!

  2. Kayla says:

    I would like some questions answered if possible, please. First of all i am a new member of the army, my husband just joined and he gets to graduate this thursday from fort knox. How much time will we get to spend together, and if his AIT is at fort gordon georgia will he get a weekend pass or a week to come home and spend time with me and our new child that i just had a couple of weeks ago. Which he has not been able to see. During his AIT will he ever get to see us or not?

  3. Hi, Kayla,

    Unfortunately, YMMV and you’re really just going to have to wait and see what his command decides.

    Check out my post about Ft. Benning Basic Graduation and you’ll get an idea of how things may work…ultimately, though, you just don’t know until the command puts out word:


    The short answer to your question is that he will probably only have day passes on Family Day and Graduation Day and have to be back that night. Usually the day after graduation is a travel day to AIT. However, if AIT does not start right away, the command has discretion to give a 36 hour pass. It is not something you can count on, though, and the command will make the call.

    My husband did not attend AIT, but my understanding is again that it will depend on the command. There may be a family day or an occasional pass, but your husband will still be in training and you would most likely not see him on a regular basis.

    My husband just told me there are some changes to the program to make it more “professional” and less like basic, but I still would not count on frequent overnight passes.

  4. H.Curbelo says:


    I love your page. I’m new in the Army world. My husban is at Fort Benning, right now in basic trainning, he suppose to graduate the next August 6. But I’m worried because :
    1. I hven’t receive a letter or call in the past week, and I don’t know if the graduation it’s still for that day.

    2. My other concern it’s that I already reserve in Victory Drive, (Dayss Inn) But you said that it’s not good, now I’m kind scare about it.

    When they will let my husband call to see if the graduation it’s that day?

    What’s wrong on Victory Drive?

    Please answer me I’m getting stress

    Thank u

    • Melynda says:

      i would like to know what is wrong with victory dr as well. I am going in July to a graduation and have booked a room on that road.

  5. correy rodriguez says:

    Well hi my name is Correy and my husband is in Fort Benning and I just come back from a family pass and I stayed at a days inn on martin luther king drive and its a realy nice place and if yu need to know anything about your husband you can email his dril sargent thats what I do and he doesnt care

  6. @H.Curbelo

    Most likely any graduation information you received is correct. They are kept very busy in Basic and sometimes are not able to call or write.

    I do not recommend Victory Drive because (at least when I was there) there were some unsavory establishments. It is not the nicest area. I think you will be fine but I would personally prefer to stay elsewhere. There are plenty of nice, clean, affordable options nearby.

  7. marissa says:

    my boyfriend is in ft. benning and his family isn’t going to see him for his graduation and family day. can me and my dad go see him and get time to spend with him even if his family isn’t there?

  8. Sierra says:

    Victory drive has not improved over the years! It is still not somewhere you want to stay (or if you do, you may not want to leave your hotel room at night and hopefully you took a cab and aren’t leaving your car in the parking lot!) There’s a really nice Holiday Inn off of Veteran’s Parkway in North Columbus. It’s right next to a texas roadhouse so dinner is easy- and they offer military discounts!

  9. Very nice blog post. I certainly appreciate this
    website. Thanks!

  10. Mary K Sluiter says:

    Can you tell me if there are two graduations at fort bennin? One for basic and one for AIT training and if you had to chose one, would it be basic or AIT?

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I all so would like to know if there would be two gradution one for basic and one for AIT and when do they do the turning blue before or after basic training or AIT and do they get time off after that

  12. Hello,I log on to your blogs named “What to Expect When You Are Expecting a New Soldier: Ft. Benning Graduation (Ask Molly) | Sparkle Mommy” like every week.Your humoristic style is awesome, keep it up! And you can look our website about تحميل افلام.