From the moment we received notice that Logan had been selected to become a warrant officer, we were excited! Who wouldn’t be? What we weren’t thinking about was how much money we were about to shell out in preparation for Warrant Officer Basic Course or WOBC (pronounced Wo-Bic) and what it would entail. Logan did know that he needed to be in great shape for the course, but that was about it, and there are typically only a few short months between the time you find out you’ve been selected and the beginning of the course. As the start of the course approached, I realized how much we weren’t prepared. I would have killed to have had the information I’m about to share with you before Logan was selected.
The Warrant Officer appointment ceremony takes place the second week of school after passing their PFT’s. Logan got to choose where he wanted to be pinned and was able to spend the rest of the day with us. School resumed the following day, bright and early. And so, as the course kicked into high gear and months went by, I began writing things down, talking with Logan, and even interviewing his squad mates for information that would help others who were considering putting in a package for warrant officer.
So here it is, my list (compiled with the help of other Warrant Officers) on how to prepare for Warrant Officer Basic Course:
Save your money! This is at the top of the list for a reason! The saying is that WOBC really stands for “warrant officers bring cash.” And this couldn’t be more true! If you are a SSgt, your pay will increase by about $800 a month. GySgt’s only go up $400 a month. BAH even decreases from GySgt to WO and say bye bye to your yearly uniform allowance. After taking a poll from about eight of Logan’s squad mates, the total money spent on the course is between $5,000-$7,000. Here’s an itemized list of some of the expenses.
•Before starting school, you must have all of your officer uniforms. This cost us around $2,800. The TBS uniform shop on base offers a 12 month interest free loan on all uniforms purchased there.
•Extra cold weather gear is a must. Plan on at least $500 for this. One item that all the Marines said was a must- have was a Buffalo jacket which costs around $200. Cold weather boots $200. No Bates light boots are used except for PT. You will need one regular pair of boots along with the cold weather boots. A boot dryer will cost you about $40 but is another must have! Other items such as thermals, a regular jacket, and gloves will cost about $200. One of the weeks Logan was out in the field, it snowed the entire time. Be prepared!
•Office supplies will cost around $150 just for your basic notebooks, pens, binders, paper, etc. Other larger office items such as a laminator and printer are needed, but can be purchased once you get there. You will have a roommate, so it’s best to see what they have before buying your own. Most items can be split and shared to save money. A laser printer is needed only if you plan on printing on ‘write in the rain paper’. A ream (500 sheets) will cost you about $90. If you don’t use this paper, you will have to laminate every page.
•Cleaning supplies for room – expect around $150. Once again, wait to see what your roommate has and split the costs. A vacuum cleaner is needed, but can be split among several rooms. You will also need an ironing board and iron. Basically plan on dropping a lot of cash the first week of school. You will need to purchase your own twin sheets and blanket unless you want to use the issued ones. I was informed by all Marines though that this is a major no-no.
•Monthly dues will cost around $60.
•Internet $40 a month (this is the shared cost).
•Extra field items for comfort include: jet boil (for coffee, shaving, and heating up food), a must have! Inflatable pillow, hand and feet warmers, and field food because MRE’s get old fast (the cost of the MRE’s that are issued to you are deducted out of your comrats).
•Beer, food, and social fund: actual amount is yet to be determined, but they all said, a lot. I would plan on at least $200 a week. For those who are not stationed within 50 miles of Quantico, you will receive $18.85 a day for per diem.
**USAA offers a $25,000 career starter loan for newly commissioned officers to help start their career. It’s a 5 year loan with an interest rate of 3% and can be used for paying off loans, uniforms, investments or leisure purchases.
Be physically prepared. Most Marines are in shape, but this course is physically demanding.
•Come prepared to hike at least five miles with 80 lbs. of boots and utilities plus a weapon at a 3.5 mile an hour pace. Most hikes or movements are seven to ten miles, but this will be a great starting point.
•Be able to do the double obstacle course in less than five minutes.
•Have a 235 or higher on PFT.
•Complete the endurance/obstacle course (5 miles with 40 lbs) in full cammies plus weapon in less than 80 minutes.
Be prepared for long days! Most days start early and end late. It is not only a physically demanding course, but a mentally challenging one as well. Logan had to stay up late writing orders and studying for tests on top of being physically exhausted. On weeks that they would spend out in the field, most only got three to four hours of sleep a night. Also remember that Marines are not allowed to have their cell phones with them, so only expect a phone call in the evenings. For weeks that they are in the field, you will not hear from them all week.
It is expected that Marines are to be social among their peers. My husband would go to $6 Steak Night at Sedona’s Taphouse every Monday night. This cheap night easily cost him $40. I was totally ok with him winding down after his stressful day and having a drink, etc., but I didn’t realize that in addition to relaxing, he was gaining knowledge from these social events. It was explained to me that during these events, Marines will talk about strategies and share their ideas for upcoming challenges. You fall behind and are out of the loop if you do not attend these social gatherings. So wives, no pestering your husbands about how much time they’re spending going out to eat or socializing. I promise you they are doing their jobs and growing from it. Plan ahead financially and you won’t have a problem.
Stafford Uniform store, aka, “The Gypsy”, is now closed. This was an essential one-stop shop for all Marines. A lot of times you will be told you need something late in the evening and this would be the store to get it from. The Bolognese Marine Store in Quantico is your next best bet, but don’t be surprised if they don’t have what you need.
We were so lucky to be stationed here in Quantico when Logan got selected. Most families will not see their Marine for the entire four months. Even if you do live close, say North Carolina, don’t expect your Marine to drive home every weekend. Logan would sometimes sleep half the day trying to recover from the days prior. If you are lucky enough to live in Quantico during the course, don’t have any honey-do lists for your spouse. If your husband has been selected for this course, chances are high that you’ve been around a while. So I shouldn’t have to go into much detail. Be supportive, send encouraging letters and photos, and handle as much stuff as you can on your own. Oh, and treat your spouse to a pedicure when they get home because they’re going to need it! (I’ll spare you the photos of Logan’s feet!)
Despite the costs, going with Logan to get fitted for his new officer uniforms was quite fun. They measured him and each piece was custom tailored to fit perfectly.
Your current uniform will have to be up to standards in order to check in to WOBC. One week later, uniforms will be changed for the promotion ceremony to Warrant Officer.
Graduation day is just four long months away, but you’ll be packing up your household goods for your next duty station before you know it. We received our new orders about six weeks into the course.
I hope this post has been helpful to those Marines that are considering putting in a package to become a Warrant Officer and their spouses. It is always beneficial to plan ahead and be prepared, which can sometimes be difficult to do in the military. The more information the better, right? If I’ve forgotten something or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. Best of luck and Semper Fi!