LDAC Information for Family and Friends

A platoon photo purchased from the SmugMug site from LDAC 2010.

LDAC has moved to Fort Knox in 2014. For updated information see the following website. Be sure to click on all the links: clc.futurearmyofficers.com

For the address at Ft. Knox: ciet.futurearmyofficers.com/contacts

follow the Facebook page: U.S. Army ROTC Cadet Summer Training. They are using the hashtag #LDAC

There is a SmugMug site for photos linked on the Facebook page under “About.”

My son went through LDAC in 2010. I’ve been following the web sites listed above. They seem to try and fit information on all summer activities for cadets. The information provided about LDAC is not as thorough as in years past. For instance, I could not easily find a schedule for the regiments. In years past a grid of the training schedule was easily available. I have found that whomever is moderating the Facebook page is not answering questions in a timely manner.

***Updated with links for 2013***

Each June  Army ROTC cadets from across the country attend the Leadership Development Assessment Course (LDAC) at Joint Base Lewis McChord, just outside of the Seattle, Washington area. I wrote a blog post about LDAC a while back and it is beginning to get a few hits from anxious friends and family eager to find out whatever they can about the experience.

For some cadets and their families it is the first time they will experience and information void for a month. Within a day or so of reporting to LDAC they surrender their phones. I have learned not to complain too much about these small inconveniences. For families of enlisted soldiers they often go a few months with little or no phone calls. The calls they get a are a couple of minutes long. All that said they can have a calling card to make calls on a land line when they are at the main base and not in the field. In 2010 most moms who received calls said they came in after 11:00 PM EST. Bringing stamps is a good idea too.

A photo by LDAC 2010 PAO. I couldn’t find my son in any photos so I decided to select a photo and pretend he was in it;)

Cadets at LDAC can receive mail during their time away. Any food they receive must be consumed on the spot. They have no place to store food sent from home. I heard many stories from fellow moms that their cadet opened a package and promptly shared its contents with his or her platoon members.

The Public Affairs Office does a terrific job of updating family members through their Facebook page, the Warrior Forge blog and Flickr photo site.  Just about anything you want to know can be found on one of these sites. The Facebook group is posted each year around May or June. Just put LDAC then the year your cadet will attend in the Facebook search window. WarriorForge blog is a wealth of information. Enter the search term in the blog search window to find an entry on the topic. I’ll include some top links below.

If you check the Facebook page, WarriorForge blog and the base website and still have a question you can email the very helpful Public Affairs Office staff by email: warriorforge.pao@gmail.com

Mailing address and Contact info:

To send snail mail to Cadets:

Cadet Lastname, Firstname
Warrior Forge xPLT, xCo, xRegt
PO Box 339543, JBLM, WA 98433

(x=the respective regiment, company, and platoon designator. If you don’t know this, just leave it blank.)

What do they do while at LDAC?

Graduation Details

Candid Photos of Flickr

More Formal photos on SmugMug

FINALLY. The day after graduation I found a photo of my son. He’s the one on the far right carrying the Guidon. photo by Joint Base Lewis McChord PAO

More Tips for The Citadel Class of 2016 and Your Parents

In the past few weeks I’ve  had the opportunity to attend a couple of events for incoming cadets of The Citadel and their parents. I remember vividly all the events leading up to our son’s Matriculation Day in 2007. I also remember how I felt at that time . . . Totally bewildered by the whole process.

Dorie and Nelson right before leaving the hotel for The Citadel. Matriculation Day, 2007. photo by Stanley Leary.

If you’ve read my blog posts before you know most of my advice for new cadets and their families can be found on the left side of this page. Today I am including a few of the top tips for both new cadets and their parents.

For the Class of 2016:

I am sure you are tired of hearing it, and you may even roll your eyes when your parents mention breaking in your shoes, but it really is the one thing you can do to make your life easier come August.

Along with breaking in your shoes be sure you are doing your physical training.

Enjoy the time you have with your family and friends. Cut your parents a break if they want you around a bit more in the next month.

Set your Facebook privacy settings really high. That is good advice for business people too.

For the Parents of the Class of 2016:

Take a deep breath. Your student has decided to attend The Citadel. It is a tough program, but if they decided to attend this school, they have it within themselves to succeed.

Our family and one friend on Parents Weekend, 2007.

Start learning to let your student make the decisions about getting ready to report. It is good training for you. Once they enter the sallyport gates of their battalion you will have to defer to them when it comes to schedules to meet, where to meet, etc.

Make your hotel reservations early.many of the hotels have filled their blocks of discounted rooms for Citadel families already. There is a PGA golf tournament on Kiawah Island the same time as Matriculation Day. I am still compiling lists of properties with available rooms. The Marriott near campus is extending a $249 rate to Citadel families who use this link. Look for hotels in Mt. Pleasant or North Charleston for better rates in general. I’ve written in a previous post about the hotels who traditionally have offered a Citadel Family rate, but most of them are nearing capacity. They may have rooms but not at a discount.

The first week or two without your cadet is the toughest. The Citadel External Affairs office and the Citadel Cadet Activities office usually post photos and other information to their Facebook pages. Be sure to “Like” them.

Senior cadet and mentor, “Mr. Mason” addresses Cadet Lalli during the promotion ceremony. Parents Weekend, 2007. photo by Stanley Leary

When you are upset that you can’t call or get an email from your cadet, remember the scores of military parents who don’t hear from their soldiers for months when they are in boot camp. The ability for knobs to have cell phones first semester is still pretty new. Don’t expect a lot of sympathy from your friends who had cadets during the no cell phone time period.

When you are on campus for Matriculation Day the parent volunteers of The Citadel Family Association are there to help. Get their business card and lean on their experience this first year. It will be your turn to help next year.

Join the Facebook group for your cadet’s Battalion and/or Company. It is a great way to learn about the various big weekends and times of year. Many parents will post photos when they are on campus for parades too.

Bravo knobs do a class set of push ups at the end of the promotion ceremony Parents Weekend, 2007. photo by Stanley Leary.

Remember The Citadel is a Leadership School. Your cadet will go through a tough process and you will be amazed at how he or she will grow as an adult in just one academic year.

To both the cadet recruits of 2016 and your parents, Hold on it’s going to be a wild ride!

4th Class Cadet Lalli joins us on the balcony of the Best Western at the end of Recognition Day. April 2008

The Matriculation Headquarters page/Success Packet is now available

Each year The Citadel posts a page called Matriculation Headquarters.  I can tell by the number of hits on my blog that parents and future cadets  alike are anxiously awaiting this information. The search terms used to find my blog tells the story. The list is filed with “packing list” “required list” “what to bring” and more.

The required list of what to bring is in the Success Packet listed under Important Documents and Links. Optional items are on the Citadel Family Association (CFA) web site under CFA Benefits.

This is the first test your future cadet will go through. To be prepared for entering this leadership school your cadet should take charge of all the information on the Matriculation Headquarters page. They really mean it when they say to break in your shoes and start your work outs now.

This is also a test for every parent. Let your future cadet take charge of preparing to report.

The wait is over. The work is just beginning.

Citadel Parents: Just like Hogwarts, Help Will Always Be Given At The Citadel to Those Who Ask For It.

Each year about this time the Atlanta Citadel Club hosts a gathering to welcome the new cadets and their families. Each year I walk away from the event impressed by the alumni and their support for their school. The dinner last night was held at the Georgian Club and was attended by at least 145 people.  The president of The Citadel, Lt. Gen. John Rosawas the honored guest along with quite a few members of the administration.

Lt. Gen John Rosa addresses the dinner guests.

Sitting at the dinner last night brought back memories of the first cadet send off dinner I attended in 2007. I experienced an interesting mixture of feelings. I was excited for the Class of 2016 and their parents because in hindsight I know the challenging, but rewarding feeling of accomplishment and pride the cadets and parents feel.

Five send off  dinners since the first one I attended in 2007, I am now feeling a different anxiety. I am preparing myself for my oldest sons first deployment to Afghanistan this fall. In many ways this anxiety  is similar to how I was feeling the summer of 2007.

My son is the one who took the road less traveled and successfully navigated the rigors of the tough 4th Class System of The Citadel. I have been a spectator and student of how to be a supportive parent of a cadet. I continue to be impressed at the loyalty cadets and graduates have for THEIR school.

In 2007 I learned about the 4th Class System from scores of parents, mostly moms, of current cadets. Today, thanks in large part to my new friends through The Citadel, I am learning about  the U.S. Army and how to be a supportive parent to my son.

As a parent you spend your child’s early years protecting them from harmful situations. At some point during their teen years you begin to realize they need to spread their wings and begin to learn about life, including the difficulties, on their own. It is like a mother bird watching their chick make their first flight. Sending my son to The Citadel was like watching him soar off into the world.

I watched the new families at the dinner last night with a mixture of feelings. I remember my own anxiety at sending a child to a tough program. But I also have the benefit of hindsight. I know the funny knob year stories that will be told. I know the feelings of accomplishment these almost cadets will feel when they reach the end of Recognition Day the end of their knob year. And I know what sheer joy looks like on a cadet their senior year when they have earned The Ring.

My son was on an Army contract. For the past several years I have gone between feeling proud of his service to being anxious about what that service entails. As a non-military person trying to learn about a complex organization with a zillion new terms to learn, the whole situation can be overwhelming.

While a military system like The Citadel can be intimidating for a non-military person, I’ve learned that like at the fictional Hogwarts of Harry Potter fame, “help will always be given to those who ask for it.” The volunteers of The Citadel Family Association and the staff of the school are a terrific resource and helped me learn about what my son was going through. Just remember, The Citadel is a “no fly zone” for helicopter parents.

I am now learning about the U.S. Army the Family Readiness Groups and organizations like Blue Star Mothers and Blue Star Families. Support groups for parents and spouses are plentiful on social media sites, but you do need to reach out and ask for support. Knowing I am not alone on this journey doesn’t take away the anxiety completely, but knowing I stand in a long line of families that have sent their sons and daughters to war gives me strength.

Best wishes to The Citadel, Class of 2016 and their parents. As the graduates say, “You spend 4 years waiting to get out and spend the rest of your life trying to go back.”

Members of the Class of 2016 pose for a photo at the end of the dinner.

Advice from Dr. Frank Ochberg to Military Moms

I recently joined the Facebook group Army Moms. It has been helpful to read the posts of the members and learn what life is like when your child is deployed. The posts about returning soldiers are usually very upbeat, but one recent post hinted at the struggles the returning soldier is having with the things he saw and experienced while deployed.

For the past 10+ I’ve studied traumatic stress, but as my own son approaches his deployment to Afghanistan, I read these posts with a different eye than I did when I began to study trauma.

Some days I fight the lump in my throat and the tears that are sure to follow. On an intellectual level I understand that feeling abnormal after a traumatic event is normal. I know there are many wonderful therapists and doctors in the field to help our returning soldiers. I also know the terribly high suicides rates of our veterans. I know these brave warriors hesitate to ask for help when they return and struggle with thoughts that haunt them, and nightmares that live within them.

And I know that I am a mom of a soldier that needs to use all the strength I can muster to support my son.

Dr. Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist and one of the founding fathers of modern psychotraumatology, is one of my mentors in the field of traumatic stress studies. I wrote to him after reading the heart wrenching post from the Army mom asking for help with how to support her veteran son.

Dr. Frank Ochberg addresses a session at the annual meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists.

I had already posted links to the National Center for PTSD and the nonprofit Gift From Within and wanted to know if he had any other helpful resources to recommend.

As always Frank wrote back with a very thoughtful response. His letter is one that all military families need to read BEFORE their soldier returns home. Military families need to do research before their soldier returns. The family should know the local resources available and the online resources so that when their soldier returns home the process of adjusting is understood.

Dear Mom of a young Service Member,

 We’re all in this together and it is good to realize that we have a large family of parents, friends, advocates, therapists, clergy, and others who care.  When your son says to you, “You don’t want to know,” I assume he is looking out for you.  He wants to spare you the images and the sounds and the smell of the place.  I’d thank him for that.  It is considerate of him.  And it doesn’t mean he thinks you are fragile.  Many of my patients, including those who know that I have heard hundreds and hundreds of trauma stories, try to spare my feelings.  They don’t want me to hurt for  them, and they don’t want to spread the horror that they have witnessed. When it feels appropriate, I might explain that I have learned how to listen without becoming damaged.  But it’s a fine line.  I can’t say I’m unaffected. I don’t want to suggest that these experiences are less profound and terrible than they really are.  So step one, I’d suggest, is to express gratitude for his kindness and caring.

 It is good for your son to have a person who can hear him out, a buddy or an older person who understands.  Odds are he already has such a person in his life.  You’ll feel reassured if you know that this relationship exists, and is being used appropriately.  He may be willing to let you know.  I’m very interested in the natural friendship network of my patients, and I do try to nurture good, supportive connections.  Not too long ago, I had two Marines come for sessions together. One was married, the other wasn’t.  There was a strong bond between the two.  They let it all out in front of each other and in front of me.  They kept most of this away from their closest family members –certainly their Moms. One had a military Dad and there was some sharing with him, but not all the detail.

 We have good evidence to suggest that Service Members who have “seen some really bad stuff,” as your son reports, do best when they use normal networks to sort out their feelings.  There is no need to think about mental heath professionals until and unless serious signs emerge.

These serious signs include nightmares and flashbacks persisting at least a month.  They include serious drinking and drugging.  They include shutting down and walling off from others so that family life and school or work are imperiled.  They include shifts in character to an alarming extent, including dangerous outbursts of anger.  Usually, this state of affairs can be avoided through peer support and healthy activity.  But exposure to deadly conflict can produce PTSD, depression and substance abuse.  So learning about those conditions is useful, for you, Mom.

Here is a page I have helped create. There are many, many more. Just go to Google, put PTSD Info in the subject line and have look.  Sharing insights and concerns with others in the military support network is useful, too.

 If your son does change his mind and chooses to tell you about his “bad stuff,” listen actively.  Don’t interrupt and don’t rush to reassure and comfort too quickly.  Here’s a good link on “active listening.” It isn’t easy to picture your son in harm’s way, or to realize that he may have been involved in lethal activity that causes him feelings of guilt and grief. I try not to say, “You have no reason to feel guilty,” or words to that effect.  I might say, “Feeling guilty is the burden of having a good character, a conscience.”

After some painful memories are shared, it helps to move to other topics.  But never too abruptly, giving the impression that you have heard enough and want to close him down.  It’s best for him to set the pace and the duration.  It’s best not to interrupt.  In a therapy session, I have to establish a time limit. So I do change the subject well before the end of the hour.  I ask about exercise or friends or family.  I lighten the subject, but keep it relevant.  You could do that, too, if the time together must end soon.

 Everyone is different, so there are few hard and fast recommendations.  You do want your son to feel comfortable being with you, knowing you love him, and trusting that you will honor his private experience of profound reality. You’ll know you are on target when he tells you, little by little, what he wants you to know.  You’ll know you are on the right track when the two of you have fun together.  You’ll know all is well as you see him move through those stages of transformation into adult life, with an occupation, a family, and friends who care.

Frank M Ochberg, MD


Most people do the equivalent of closing their eyes and hoping they never have to deal with the scarier parts of post deployment life. As hard as it may be to read some of the materials, being knowledgeable of the signs to look for, and how to best support your returning soldier , you can make the transition to civilian life easier for the soldier.

Additional resource links follow:

PTSD 101

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury

Military Family Network

Betty Clooney Center

About Face – “Learn about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD from Veterans who live with it every day. Hear their stories. FInd out how treatment turned their lives around.”