The United States military can bring an unprecedented amount of firepower onto any battlefield. Starting at recruit training, service members learn how to fire, handle, safe-keep, and most importantly, clean their weapons. But what about their feet?
The iconic movie Full Metal Jacket made the legendary Rifleman’s creed famous, “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life…” Mobility is key to a strong military, and thus for this article we will rewrite the creed, “These are my feet. There are many like it, but these are mine. My feet are my best friend. They are my life.”
The following article will provide guidance on best foot care, preventive maintenance for blisters, and how to send moleskin to your recruit.
A recruit is issued a pair of combat or tactical boots upon arriving at boot camp. And for a majority, it is the first set up boots they have ever worn.
The military has come a long way in providing state-of-the-art footwear to not only protect the foot but sustain a variety of activities. From daily marching to ceremonies to the battlefield, foot care is vital to accomplishing the mission.
The tempo at boot camp can be fast and furious, as well as very intimidating. Recruits are sometimes issued boots that don’t fit properly, leading to blisters and nail issues. Unless they ask for a new pair or taught foot care, they end up in a world of discomfort. And even if they are issued the correct size, the newness of the boot can lead to equally uncomfortable situations.
There are three ways one can protect their feet.
- Washing and drying of feet
- Proper fitting boots & socks
- Preventive Measures (including moleskin)
Feet need to be washed at least once a day. Otherwise, the tissues that naturally shed will build up over time, causing smelling feet, and worse, athlete’s foot. After washing, it is essential to dry the feet thoroughly, especially between the toes.
Tip: in washing feet, if water is not available, use baby wipes.
Make sure the boots fit correctly. At recruit training, there isn’t much time for custom fitting. The recruit needs to ensure their boot holds the foot firmly to the boot’s heel and allows movement of the toes. Any movement of the foot inside the boot can cause blisters – and as we say in the military, that’s bad juju.
Tip: request a 1/2 size larger than your shoe size and make sure you try the boot on with a boot sock.
Socks are almost as important as the boot itself. And more importantly, dry socks will be the recruit’s best friend. Recruits should try to have extra socks in the cargo pocket or pack. Socks should be changed every three hours when humping (military word for hiking). Even if not exposed to water, sweat can still accumulate, causing unwanted foot issues.
Tip: keep a single pair of socks in a zip lock bag in case you encounter rain or need to ford a river.
The best practice in keeping feet protected is preventive maintenance. Preventing blisters and rubbing can be thwarted by using bandaids, or better yet, moleskin. A recruit can strategically place moleskin over sensitive foot areas, preventing any potential friction caused by poor-fitting boots. Recruits often forget or are afraid to take moleskin with them to boot camp.
Sending moleskin to your recruit is allowed. And, you will be the mom of the year.
Tips on sending moleskin:
- LetterTrac.com will overnight up to 33 pieces of moleskin to your recruit
- You can send 10-20 pieces in a USPS letter or card (you can send multiple times)
- Don’t overnight moleskin. Your recruit will have to open the package in front of the RDC, MTI, or Drill Instructor.
- If you send too much, your recruit will share it with other recruits
- If you recruit has not left send at least 33 pieces with them w/10 small zip lock bags
LetterTrac.com will send 11 pieces to your recruit for free with any label order. Orders are mailed 3 days a week to all recruit bases.