The Perfect Duty Station Wish List

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 me 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!

The Perfect Duty Station Wish List


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.

Did your spouse get to choose your current duty station? What went into that decision?

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6 thoughts on “The Perfect Duty Station Wish List”

  1. This is a great post. There are so many factors to consider and I think that sometimes it’s hard to think of them all. We live in Hawaii right now and while it is an awesome adventure, it is hard to be away from family. My husband always asks me for my input because a lot of times I will be left alone for a long period of time, but I think that his job is the number 1 factor. So for this tour, we prioritized his job over location. I really want him to be happy with what he is doing if we are going to revolve our lives around it! He ended up getting the job he wanted in the location he wanted, so we were lucky!

  2. We have been lucky and have had a choice in everywhere we have been so far. Kyle wanted Bragg right after he commissioned and he got it, we wanted Fort Bliss because of a command opportunity and it worked out, and now at Polk we chose to come here and thankfully branch was on board. We consider ourselves extremely lucky and one of the rare cases.

  3. Love this post! My husband just left Clarksville/Ft.Campbell after being there 5 years we met right before his last 11 months of being stationed there even though I had lived in Clarksville for 20 years. We are now stationed in Alaska and oh boy the weather is very different I appreciate -20 after a couple of weeks of being at -50 during the winter. The summers can be very beautiful as long as there aren’t too many wildfires or rain filled weeks… which from my experience seems to alternate every year. We have a little over a year left and I must say it has been very exciting however the Moose are massive and not afraid of confrontation which is why we try to avoid them at all cost. Sometimes you walk outside and they’re laying in your front yard or right beside your garage because the garages are heated but this will only last during the winter during the summer your enemy will be the mosquitoes(especially rain filled summers)! I am fairly new to the active-duty way of life as a spouse and there’s so much to learn however we did have the discussion about where we would like to go next and that’s a choice that we have discussed over the last few weeks because his window opens in October. My only thought is that he goes where he can be successful at what he’s doing but also we as a family can enjoy what the area has to offer. Living here in the interior of Alaska we have truly had to be creative and step outside of our box to enjoy what it has to offer. The only time we get some normality is if we drive down to Anchorage. I’m excited to see where our next duty station will lead us and how this military lifestyle will be for our family.

  4. My husband’s very first duty station was Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. It was the furthest we had ever been from home, but we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world. Yeah, the winters are brutal, and take a bit to get used to, but the summer’s make up for all of it. Only in Alaska can you go for a walk at 2 o’ clock in the morning, with the sun still high in the sky, and smell people grilling in their backyards. We also made deeper friendships while we were there. Being so far from our families, they became family quicker than others.

    Next was DLI in Monterey, California. This time, we were closer to both of our families, as he had family who lived near Bakersfield, and I had family in Livermore. It provided my husband a wonderful opportunity to learn his chosen language (Mandarin), and make even more friends. During our time there, my maternal Grandmother (who I was very close with), passed away back home in Colorado. If I had been further from family, I would not have been able to cope as well as I did. Being closer to family allowed me to help plan, and attend, her memorial picnic my side of the family had in San Francisco.

    His current duty station is Fort Riley, Kansas. Again, more experiences than I ever could have imagined. Had a couple tornado scares (which I hear will resume here again soon), and a new job for me. The biggest change? We are almost one month into his very first deployment. We knew it would come eventually. I’m slowly getting used to the idea that I am now “single”. But there have been some amazing experiences here as well. He finally made Sgt., and once he comes home, we will become licensed to be foster parents, which has been a dream of ours for years.

  5. Our first duty station was Schofield Barracks, Hawaii! We were pretty lucky to score that as a first duty station. The next duty station where we are currently is good ole Fort Bragg AKA “black hole”. lol Theres people here that’s been here for 7 or more years. My husband re-enlisted and put in for Fort Wainwright, AK and that’s where we are heading next. We just want to travel and see what’s out here outside of the norm and away from family. I’m close to my family but seriously, I want to see the world and why not do it while it’s offered to ya? My husband was able to get all of the schools he wanted while here at Bragg. Fort Bragg is a great duty station career wise. He’s only deployed once in the 7 years he has been in. After Alaska I’m hoping we can get Italy or Fort Riley. (Big differences right?). I’m from North Carolina so anything new and exciting and BRIGHT I’ll love!

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