The first days and weeks of joining the military can be rather stressful as you are away from home, meeting and living in close quarters new people, learning by fire hose, and receiving near constant negative feedback from the training staff. In the Air Force this special breed of trainers are called Military Training Instructors (MTI), or TI's for short.
The Best Ways to Prepare For Your First Meeting
Prior to getting on the airplane or bus to Basic Military Training (BMT) at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) Lackland in Texas, you should prepare yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. For many, this is the first time being away from home (if enlisting after high school) for long periods of time. Not knowing military ranks, general orders, and basic Air Force knowledge and start this journey off on the wrong foot quickly - within your first few hours of a 7.5 weeks of training. Not being physically ready to excel physically on fitness tests and other challenging training events will add to pain and discomfort and feeling like you do not belong. This can tug at you emotionally as on top of it all you have a training instructor reminding you of how you ill-prepared you are. So, workout to excel well above the minimum standards physically and you can at least make one of the potential stressful events into a stress reliever. Then read as much as you can about the Air Force, it's heroes, and it's traditions.
Day 1 - Within The First Few Minutes
Once you step off the bus after arrival, you will meet your training team members, including your Chief Military Training Instructor. Air Force T.I.s do not use profanity (at least, they're not supposed to), nor will they "put hands" on you. But, they are very good at yelling. So, try to avoid giving them reason to yell at you.
Addressing the T.I. (Sir or Ma'am)
Unlike the other services, in the Air Force during basic training, you will be required to address non-commissioned officers (NCOs) -- especially T.I.s -- as "Sir," or "Ma'am."
There are not enough commissioned officers around basic training for you to practice on, so the T.I.s allow you to practice this etiquette on them. Once you leave basic training, you won't call any non-commissioned officers "sir" or "ma'am." But in Air Force basic training, you should apply this honorific to anyone who outranks you.
You will soon discover that basic training is that nobody in your flight can do anything correctly. Everything you do during the first couple of days will be wrong. You will stand wrong, walk (march) wrong, talk wrong, look wrong, and possibly you are even breathing wrong.
Hopefully, you will have a few minutes of respite while the T.I. concentrates on the person next to you with the purple hair. If so, do not giggle, do not smile. If you do, you will discover just how short a T.I.s attention span can be as he/she shifts attention to examine and comment (loudly) about your particular deficiencies. Keep in mind that T.I.s hate the word, "yeah." They also hate the word "nope," and "un-uh." They especially hate any sentence that doesn't begin or end with the word, "sir," or "ma'am."
T.I.s are also notoriously hard-of-hearing. No matter how loud you say "Yes Sir!," or "No Ma'am!" your T.I. will probably demand you to speak louder. Because of their hearing problem, the T.I. will probably assume that you are similarly inflicted and will make a special effort to speak loudly -- right next to your ear. Moving, or showing any evidence of discomfort is considered to be impolite and will be receive special treatment (loudly).
Before long, it will dawn on you that somewhere between the welcome center and your dormitory, someone stole your first name. You will probably never hear your first name throughout your entire time in basic. For your time there, everyone (T.I.s, flight mates, etc.) will be addressing you by your last name. If a T.I. doesn't know your last name, he/she will call you "trainee," or "recruit" (loudly). If you are female, often they will yell, "Hey, you! Female!"
Your T.I. will likely spend most of the time on the first evening you are together, between meeting you, and lights out, by introducing you to some of his/her favorite T.I. games.