Military life is definitely different than civilian life. This doesn’t make it better and it doesn’t make it worse. There are huge benefits to being a military family but the drawbacks are just as significant and easily offset the positives. One of the biggest life changes for someone not familiar with the military is moving onto a military base. Many see it as a scary place of war but the reality is that there is much more to a military base than just the military aspect of it. Knowing what to expect while living on a military base can make a major difference in your overall outlook about it.
What should be expected on a military base?
Military bases are made to be like small cities. The idea is that regardless of where you and your family get stationed you should be able to enjoy the comforts of home without having to leave the base. This is a great thing for areas where the outside civilian world doesn’t have much to offer military members in the form of entertainment. In fact a military base provides so well for those living within the gates that at times it is difficult to find reasons to ever leave the base. With every major service readily available within the gates it almost becomes a matter of going off base just for the sake of going somewhere different.
What most people don’t realize about military bases is that they not only have a full grocery store that offers all of the items found at any other major chain grocery store but also have a store similar to a Target or Wal-Mart. The best part about these locations is that they offer goods at a substantial discount to what they could be purchased for in the civilian sector. This is because tax isn’t really an issue on a military base. Most bases do not charge tax on many goods purchased on the base. It is considered to be one of the benefits of serving. The stores also carry major name brands. In fact, the military exchange sells Coach purses and designer clothing. Normally the merchandise found at an exchange would be similar to that found in a Macy’s but at a price more relative to Target or Wal-Mart.
Recreation on a military base is also above and beyond what most people would imagine. Bases are equipped with movie theaters, bowling alleys, shooting ranges, large swimming pools with life guards, fully functional fitness centers, and a fully staffed recreational department that even has trip guides for those looking to go on an adventure to see the local area. Some military bases even go so far as to include beaches that rival those of the best in the country. This is the case in Florida. In Alaska the bases even have their own snowboarding and ski resort with the ability to rent equipment as needed.
If sports are your thing military bases even provide for this with basketball courts, tennis courts, hockey (cold climate areas), racket ball, football fields, soccer fields, baseball fields, etc. There are even fitness courses and running trails throughout many of the bases as well. The best part about these courses is that they are normally nicely designed and most importantly they are safer than any other trail in the world.
Other features of a base include banks, schools, post office, liquor stores, libraries, computer labs, auto repair shops, craft centers, floral shops, hair cutting, nail salons, and even several different churches for different denominations. Bases attempt to do their best to meet the basic needs of the residents. It is the goal to create a positive environment for the family so that they can support the personnel.
What you need to know
Along with the services and the protection of a military base comes the more military aspect of it. The military does restrict some freedoms in order to protect the base population and of course information on the base itself. Security is always heightened because of this. This means that at any time while on a military base you and your vehicle are subject to search. There doesn’t have to be a reason for it, they can do it to whoever they want whenever they want. This is part of having access to all of the functionality and security of a military base. Security also limits access to weapons. Most military bases require that weapons be stored inside of the armory. For some people this is a major change that they aren’t always willing to let go but if caught with a weapon on base it could be a major ordeal that simply isn’t worth it.
Also, military bases don’t allow the use of cell phones while driving. If you are caught talking on the phone while driving it could mean sacrificing all driving privileges on that base. This is something they take seriously. All speed limits need to be monitored as well. Even 1 MPH over the speed limit is too much on a military base. They keep law and order by enforcing the laws precisely. Also, the use of cameras on a military base needs to be done extremely carefully. Pointing a camera towards a flight line or any military building could become a very serious offense. It is best to only keep cameras out in areas that are designated for recreation.
If animals are important they can also be restricted as well. The military has a breed ban that restricts large dogs and aggressive breeds to anyone living on base. This also means that military members are unable to bring their banned breeds onto the base even for treatment at the military veterinarian.
It is also important to note that military police handle all matters. If something happens on base that requires the police to respond it is going to be the military and they aren’t going to play around. Military members are much more likely to throw someone in jail and ask questions later than regret not doing something. Also, calling the military police is something that can be reported back to a supervisor. This means that any altercation with the police can result in the military member losing pay, rank, or both. So if it doesn’t need to be reported to the police on a military base then it is probably a good idea to leave it alone.
Radar detectors are also a bad idea. The military police aren’t as likely to accept the reasons for having a radar detector no matter how good it may sound. To a military cop there is no good reason for breaking any law.
Military life can be a great deal of fun. The military families are extremely close and people tend to form bonds with other families. There are numerous services available on military bases to help those new to military life and also a variety of different groups that get together to help with socializing your family. The military truly does everything that they can to ensure that life is as positive as possible for everyone in the military and their families.