Happy to have this guest post by Amanda on living near Ft. Hamilton, in NYC. Please visit myDuty station guest post page for posts on other locations or more information about how you can write a guest post about where you have been stationed.
After I moved to New York City back in 2001, I was prepared to see the sights… things like Broadway shows, Times Square, museums, just to name a few. When I met my future husband in 2005 and we married in 2008, I was introduced to a whole new world called the Army National Guard. My now husband had been a member of some form of the Reserves and National Guard for over 15 years by then and I was thrown right in with no warning or training. The closest I had ever really been to the Armed Forces was hearing stories of my grandfather who had served in WWII and my best friend from high school, who had previously lived on numerous bases through the world before her father retired from the Army in the early 90’s.
While trying to find my way through the crazy terminology, acronyms, regulations, and ever-changing orders that never seemed to be released in a timely manner, I was introduced to a hidden treasure right in our backyard that I had no idea even existed. After we were married, my husband informed me that I needed to get a dependent military ID. The following weekend we hopped the subway and made our way to a neighborhood called Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, where, to my surprise, stood Fort Hamilton.
Fort Hamilton sits right under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, and next to the neighborhood of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. If you didn’t know an Army base was located there you would never even notice it. But once you do know it is there, there are obvious signs of its presence. For example, the giant American flag that flies over the great lawn and the side-by-side white washed houses that serve as base housing.
As a National Guard family, we don’t have an opportunity to live on base, and we really only go on base if we have a specific need to be there such as our unit’s family day, which is normally held on the great lawn just inside the gates. My husband’s actual home station is the Armory in Manhattan, but Fort Hamilton is a much more comfortable location for the kids to come and run around like crazy people for a couple hours. The view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from the great lawn is stunning and I always get a shot of it every time we are there.
In my personal opinion, the general atmosphere is fairly easy going compared to other Army bases that I have visited, such as Fort Dix in New Jersey or West Point in upstate New York. Once you get past the armed guards at the front gates, it almost reminds me of a small college campus than an Army base. We usually end up taking a walk around the grounds just to enjoy the outdoors without fear of being hit by a crazy NYC cab.
Even though it is a smaller base, Fort Hamilton does have many of the same services as the larger bases. Services such as a commissary, Post Exchange, ID services, employment services, dry cleaners, barbershop, and the USO are all available. As a matter of fact, the USO provided entertainment for us at one of our family days. I didn’t catch the name of the group, but they performed all of the WWII favorites. I really wish I had caught Marshall on video because he jumped right up there and was dancing along with them through their whole performance!
Did I mention the barbershop??? You don’t venture on an Army base with your hair too long otherwise you are sent directly to the barbershop!
If you do get the chance to visit Fort Hamilton, prepare for a small town atmosphere in the middle of the big city. In addition, the sights and sounds of New York City are just a quick 20-minute subway ride away!
Amanda Olvera is a true Michigan girl living in New Jersey with her husband, 4 year old son, 3 kitties, and beta fish. She has been a military spouse since 2008 and is still working her way through all the rules, regulations, and balancing her family’s civilian life with that of the National Guard. She works full time as an IT Project Manager in New York City. She recently discovered the crazy world of running and was surprised to find she enjoys it! She also enjoys a good book, which fills the time during her daily commute into the city. She is currently working towards a Masters in Project Management from Stevens Institute of Technology and studying to sit for her PMP certification. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She blogs at The Calm Before The Storm () and you can follow her on Facebook () and Twitter ().