The Truth About Military Duty Stations
I just wanted to go home. I hated it there. Everything about that place was starting to get on my nerves. We were still months away from PCSing and the closer that date got, the harder it was to be patient. I wanted to move so badly. Live somewhere else. Get out of where we were.
Looking back, it seems unreal that I thought this about being stationed in Germany. Being stationed in Europe is a dream come true. Doing so was an amazing experience and one I am very thankful for. But after a couple of years of being away from the US, all I wanted to do was go somewhere else.
There are always a lot of questions about duty stations in my Facebook community. So many people want to know what to expect and what living in some locations will be like.
These questions are a good idea so that military spouses can find out more about what they will be doing in the future. I know I always have a ton of questions before I move somewhere new.
Duty stations come in all different sizes and are located in very different places. Hawaii is going to be an entirely different experience than being stationed in upstate New York.
So what is the truth about military duty stations?
Some are better than others, but…
Some duty stations are better than others. The housing is better, the weather is more ideal in California than it is in the South, and some places have more resources than others. Some locations are favorites of military families and some places cause a lot of dread when they are brought up.
The truth is, you could have an enjoyable experience at a horrible place, or you could have a horrible experience in paradise. Homesickness can kick in and if you are stationed far from home, going to visit can be difficult.
If you do get orders for one of the less popular duty stations, try not to get too upset about them. You never know what your experience will be like and you may just figure out how to bloom where you are stationed.
The people make the difference
The people you meet at your duty station can make the difference. In one place you could end up in the right neighborhood and makes friends very quickly. These are the people that you will remember after you PCS. They are the ones that will make your experience at your duty station what it is.
In other places, you could struggle to make friends and not finding your tribe can be a difficult place to be in. You might look back on those years with unfavorable memories and dread simply because you had a hard time connecting with others.
If you have issues with different people at your duty station, that is going to change your experiences as well. Too much drama and feeling like you don’t fit in can make your time there not as great.
Things change all the time
No matter where you are or how you feel about your duty station, things change all the time. People PCS away, you can move, even within the same city, your kids get older, and you PCS yourself.
Whenever I feel like I have found my group of friends in my current city, I am aware that things will change. That what we have at the moment will not last forever and that things will be different in the future.
This is a good thing if you don’t like where you live, not so good if you do.
Duty stations don’t last forever
If you hate where you live, don’t think it will get any better, and can’t wait to leave, eventually, you will. Although some military families do stay at the same place for a while, most move at least every 3-5 years. Some even more often.
You will eventually PCS out of where you are now. You might have to be patient and wait for that, but the day will eventually come.
Same duty station, completely different experiences
You should always keep in mind that two people can have completely different experiences at the same duty station. Here at Fort Campbell, we have people that love this place and never want to go anywhere else and those that loathe it and can’t wait to move.
I think your experience at a particular duty station is going to depend on a few factors. One is where you are from and what you are used to. If you come from California, living in a much colder part of the country is going to make a difference.
Your experience is also going to depend on your house, your spouse’s unit and even the ages of your children. You could have two completely different experiences at the same place simply because there are 10 years in between.
When it comes to duty stations, remember that seeking advice is a good thing but don’t get discouraged by bad comments. Know that you will probably be able to experience many different places during your spouse’s career and that you won’t stay in one place forever.
What do you love the most about your current duty station?