So, you’re planning to live on an installation for the first time as a military spouse. Mixed with your excitement, you may also experience a wide range of additional emotions — like nervousness, anticipation and anxiety. While it is perfectly understandable to feel some uncertainty, there are several ways to ensure the transition is a success. By arming yourself with a little extra knowledge about life on a military installation, your experience can become more exciting and less uncertain.
What You Need to Know About Life on a Military Installation
You’ve probably heard the expression “knowledge is power,” and in this case it can also be a stress reducer. Here’s what you need to know about installation living:
Advantages of living on an installation
• A sense of community. When you live on an installation, your neighbors aren’t just your neighbors — they become your community. Not only do they share a common sense of military life, they also may share many of your same concerns and feelings.
• Cost. Saving money is one of the biggest reasons to take advantage of military housing. You won’t have to worry about paying certain costs associated with off installation living.
• Access to community services. It’s all right there — the commissary, exchange, medical treatment facility, library, child care, youth activities, and sports and recreation facilities. Most installations also have banks, restaurants, gas stations and more.
• Safety and security.Thanks to monitoring by military police, you can feel safe living on an installation.
Challenges of installation life
Any lifestyle change brings challenges and living on an installation for the first time is no different. But there are steps you can take to help you meet those challenges in a positive way. Depending on your own particular situation, you may face the following concerns:
• Privacy. Military installations are a lot like small towns. If you value your privacy, be sure to practice a little discretion as you get to know your neighbors. Try to keep your conversation on the light side and avoid gossip.
• New surroundings for your kids. Don’t be surprised if it takes your children a little bit of time to adjust to installation living. Once your children begin to make friends, become involved in activities they like and start school, the transition is often a bit easier.
• Isolation. With so many comforts and conveniences available on your installation, it’s easy to feel separated from the surrounding civilian community. Make an effort to venture outside of the main gate and explore what the town has to offer. Trylooking on local websites for things to do and places to explore.
• Yard maintenance. While you don’t have to worry about home repairs, most installations require you to maintain your yard and keep a clean home, inside and out.
• Protocol. You may be surprised by the frequent loud explosive noises of soldiers practicing their artillery skills. Don’t worry – these various activities and practices of installation living will soon become part of your daily routine. You may also feel like an outsider the first time you see cars stopping and people standing at attention when the flag is raised in the morning and lowered in the evening. However, before long, you’ll view honoring the flag as more than just the routine start and end to each day, but as a way to reflect on the contributions of service members past and present.
Building relationships in your military community
• Be proactive. It may sound cliché, but a positive attitude really does go a long way when making a transition like this. While there are many programs and facilities available on an installation, it is ultimately up to you to take advantage of each opportunity. Make a point to accept invitations from your neighbors, attending events and joining activities on the installation. Also check out the various resources available to you on post, such as the Military and Family Support Center, installation chaplains or Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.
• Get your children involved in activities. The installation youth center offers a wide range of sports, activities, events and social clubs. Encouraging your child to participate is also a great way to meet other parents.
• Get to know your neighbors. Remember, other families are likely facing many of the same concerns and frustrations. Getting to know your neighbors could do wonders for everyone involved.
• Participate in your military community activities. Pay attention to posted upcoming activities and join in the fun. You can try new things and meet new people at the same time. You may even want to consider making it a special point to participate in Newcomer’s Orientations and welcome new neighbors as they arrive. While you still may feel a bit overwhelmed, it won’t be long before your house on the installation begins to feel like home., and you’ll become attached to a community that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.
— Courtesy Military One Source