1) What are some common reasons that candidates get sent home from Officer Candidates School?
The most common reasons that candidates get sent home from OCS are injuries and failure to adapt to a military environment (in other words, simply not "getting it").
The consistent PT at OCS, combined with a lack of sleep and good nutrition takes a toll on the body that adds up, especially if you are a candidate at the 10 week OCC program.
The best way to prevent injuries such as stress fractures is to prepare physically beforehand. Your body should be accustomed to long workouts most days of the week, along with running in boots. For more on physical prep to prevent injuries, see the first installment of our Q and A.
While at OCS, listening to your body is critical. You should know the difference between a sore muscle/minor pain that you can push through vs. a developing injury that needs to be addressed.
While preventing injuries is not 100 percent in your hands, getting sent home for failure to adapt is.
The staff at Officer Candidates School screens and evaluates candidates for their ability not only to lead but also to function in a regimented military environment. Much of that involves conformity and being on the same page as everyone else.
While you want to excel at leadership, in terms of adapting to a military environment you want to be like the other candidates. You do NOT want to stand out.
In the context of OCS this means moving with speed and intensity, bringing a positive attitude and high volume, NOT being an individual, and demonstrating a capacity to lead your peers.
The candidate that never has the gear he is supposed to have, is always getting yelled at, is always the last one or the slowest, and can't seem to do anything correctly? That is a failure to adapt.
Other reasons that candidates get sent home from OCS are integrity violations (lying, cheating, stealing, etc), doing something stupid on liberty, getting some sort of contagious infection or illness, or failing academic and physical requirements.
2) Do you have any tips for the LRC at OCS?
The LRC stands for "leadership reaction course" and is a graded event that factors into your leadership score at OCS. You will be broken up into fire team size groups (about 4 or 5 candidates) and presented with a different "mission" at each station that you rotate through.
The "mission" will be some sort of problem that you have to solve using a different set of tools at each station (ammo cans, rope, pipes, etc).
When leading your LRC you will be briefed by a staff member on the situation (problem that needs to be solved) and given a few minutes to come up with a plan. You will then brief your fire team in a five paragraph order format and execute the plan.
How to succeed:
3) How can I prevent blisters at OCS?
The single most important thing you can do to prevent blisters at OCS is to break in your boots beforehand. Check out our packing list for the best boots to bring to OCS. You should not be wearing new boots at OCS, as that is a recipe for blisters.
In addition, make sure that you bring high quality boot socks. We recommend either Fox River or Thorlo socks. See our packing list for more details. The issued socks simply won't cut it and blisters can severely hurt your performance and possibly lead to infection.
Changing your socks frequently is important as wet or sweaty feet create more friction and increase the likelihood of blisters.
Knowing your particular "hot spots" and which areas of your feet are prone to blisters will allow you to take preventative action and apply tape or moleskin beforehand.
If you have a severe blister, see a corpsman who can drain it, apply antibiotic ointment, and bandage it. Ideally you can prevent it before it gets to this point.