JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
Scared, anxious and sleep deprived; between 300 and 400 basic military trainees, many with freshly shaved heads from the barber located next door, pass through a brown brick building each week to receive their first sets of uniforms and clothing items they will need for life in the military.
For most of them, it will be the first time they have ever seen themselves in a military uniform.
“This is where we start the transformation and make them part of our team,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Dendy, 323rd Training Squadron instructor supervisor. “When they go into clothing issue, it’s their first introduction to that uniform. It lets them know we are all on the same team because the uniforms they are wearing are no different than the ones their instructors are too.”
With a streamlined process, members of the 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron are able to process two flights of trainees at a time in 90 minutes.
“When those young people come in here and get to put on the uniform for the first time, there is a noticeable change in energy,” said Vernalynne Carter, 502nd LRS deputy section chief of clothing issue. “You see the pride in them already.”
Prior to their arrival, a duffle bag is prepositioned for each trainee. Inside it contains two towels and a belt along with all of the shirts and socks they will need for training. Once they have their bag they are fitted for and receive four sets of uniforms.
Afterwards, the trainees file into the next room to receive their first two pairs of sage green military boots. The boots are heavy, durable and may never be this clean again.
At their final stop, lines of trainees are measured for hats before heading to the checkout counter where radio frequency identification badges on their gear ensure they have all of their required items.
“I once had a girl tell me, ‘ma’am, I have a really big head,’” Carter said. “I told her not to worry, we have really big hats.”
Once the flurry of activity dies down, members of the shop take inventory and restock their shelves, ready to do it all again in a week.
“We have very busy days, but it’s fun,” Carter said. “I take pride in putting the uniform on them.”