The Perfect Duty Station Wish List
We got lucky. Maybe because he was going back into the Army at a time when they really needed more people to join, maybe it was just luck, but when my husband re-joined the military in 2005, he was given his choice of where he wanted to be stationed. The choices were Europe, Hawaii, Ft. Campbell and South Korea. I don’t think we could have gone with him on that last one. Before he left for MEPS we talked about our desire to be stationed in Europe. So while he didn’t get a chance to talk to be about his decision, he wanted Europe and he knew I did too.
When I picked him up from MEPS, I thought he would tell me about how he would have to re-do basic. Instead, he told me we were going to Europe and he would be leaving in 2 weeks!
Fast forward a few years later and it was time to re-enlist. My husband was given another choice. We debated between Ft. Campbell and Ft. Irwin. Ft. Irwin would have been just 3 hours from home, yet the post was in the middle of nowhere. We had just come from Germany where we had lived about 30 minutes from post. We wanted to be in a place where we could have access to an American city with all the things we had been missing while we were overseas. We wanted our children to be able to go to off-post schools and to be able to have somewhat of a life beyond the military post. He put in for Ft. Campbell and that is where we ended up.
I know a lot of people don’t get a say in where they get to go. A lot of times the needs of the military take over. And the higher in rank, the fewer positions there are. Still, some people do get to choose and that choice is a big one. You have to decide where you want to live for the next 3-5 years. How do you even know where would be best? There are so many different factors to think about.
Here is what you should think about when creating your perfect duty station wish list:
- Close to the family- How close to family do you want to be? Does your family live in a military town? Maybe you don’t get along and want to be as far away from them as possible. I always think about what life would have been like if we had been stationed just 3 hours from home. Our lives would have been very different.
- Beach/Mountains- Some people want to be right by the beach. Others love the mountains and what they have to offer. You might think about which duty stations are by your ideal location and see if you can go there.
- Duty station location- Maybe you have always wanted to live in the Pacific North West. Maybe you have dreamed about living in the south one day. The military is a great opportunity to experience living in different places in the US and even the world.
- Adventure- In for an adventure? Try to go overseas or in a place you never ever thought you would be able to live. Some military duty stations are more exciting than others. Picking a place out of your comfort zone might be the best idea. A lot of people worry about being overseas. Being overseas is different from what you are used to but going overseas or even Alaska or Hawaii can be a great opportunity for you and your family. Fun Fact: According to the Military, Alaska and Hawaii are overseas locations 🙂
- Spouse’s career goals- Sometimes you will have to go somewhere based on your spouse’s career. They need to be stationed at certain places or they need to go certain places to attend a certain school. This can be hard when where they need to go isn’t a place you would want to pick. Don’t lose hope, sometimes you can have the best experiences in a location you never thought you would like.
- Weather- When my husband was 19 years old he joined the Army for the first time. He was sent to Ft. Drum, NY. A California boy, in upstate NY. Talk about a weather change. Weather can be a factor. If you love your four seasons, putting in for California might not be ideal. If you can’t stand the snow, stay away from the northern locations. I am not sure how I would have handled a place like NY or Alaska. I feel like Tennessee is too cold for me 🙂
At the end of the day, you will go where the military wants your spouse to go. Sometimes you get a say, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes they ask and ignore what you have said and other times they will honor that. If you are given a choice, think about what you want and the type of place you want to be. If you don’t get your first few choices, remember, you can still bloom where you are stationed and can make the best of any duty station you might end up at.