The Spouses Speak series: Bonus article-Military Bases

Fort Irwin
Fort Irwin

The Spouses Speak series: Bonus article-Military Bases

by Tamala Malerk
Stripes Europe

The idea behind “The Spouses Speak” series was to ask the same set of questions to spouses across the military branches who have been married to a military member for differing amounts of time. Stars and Stripes received 138 responses from six military branches, ranging in age from 19 years old to 57 years old. These spouses are currently stationed at locations all over the world with almost 20 percent being OCONUS (outside the continental U.S.). Spouses who have been married for one month through 28 years responded. Over the next few months, you’ll see topics about living in Europe, home life, the perks and joys of military life, as well as the fears and issues, plus life outside of the military.

In this bonus article, we are talking about military bases. About 46 percent of spouses polled claimed that traveling and seeing new places was the top perk of military life. However, moving with the military lifestyle can be a gamble. You could end up living next to a coastal sunny beach, in a thriving metropolis, in the freezing cold or the desert. What might be considered a “dream location” for one family could be dead last on another family’s list. Here are these military spouses’ favorite/dream and not-so-ideal military bases.

Chart with favorite military bases
Favorite/Dream bases | Chart by Tamala Malerk

 

The Best: Across all branches, Germany, and Europe as a whole was considered the favorite or “dream” place to be stationed by one third of all spouses. Hawaii also managed to make the “favorite/dream” list of all of the branches. Air Force spouse Jennifer R. recalled how being stationed in Germany allowed them to “travel all over Europe” and how it was an “amazing experience that we as a family are eternally grateful for.” Aside from Germany and Hawaii, there were no clear favorites within any individual branch. 

 

The Least Favorites: While the favorite/dream bases were scattered aside from Europe and Hawaii, spouses had stronger and more definitive claims when it came to where they did not want to be. While Germany was a clear favorite amongst all the branches, Ramstein Air Force Base (AFB) was on the top of the “least favorite list” with Air Force and Space Force spouses, followed by Minot. Air force spouse Michelle F. claimed that during her time at Ramstein, the base was “unable to keep up with the vast amount of people it served.” Yet, Air Force Spouse Sharon W. had another reason that Ramstein made their list claiming, “Germany during Covid was depressing…. This would not have been the case otherwise.” Lejeune and 29 Palms were two of the least favorites among Marine Spouses. Navy Spouse Morgan R. stated that her least favorite station is China Lake Weapons Station because “it is in Death Valley and my tires melted to the road in the summer.” 13 percent of Army spouses found Fort Polk unfavorable and 8 percent of Army Spouses did not want to be stationed at Fort Sill or Fort Irwin. 

 

Home is Where the Military Sends Us: Several locations made both the favorite and least favorite lists: Alaska, Fort Bragg, San Diego, Norfolk and Puerto Rico, just to name a few. Norfolk has been described by spouses as “great” by Navy Spouse Ryan D. and also as “where the Navy goes to die” by Navy Spouse Angela C. Army Spouse Kati B.’s dream base is Fort Bragg while Army Spouse Devon K. found Fort Bragg to be a “nightmare.”

 

A surprising number of spouses claimed that they didn’t have favorite or disliked bases. Marine Corps spouse Dvija M. noted how spouses “really have ‘bloom where we are planted’ attitude and so far, have managed to find something to love about every duty station.”  These spouses made the best of where they were no matter what, or they found that each place had its own perks and issues, but nothing that made it stand out. Do you have a favorite or least favorite base or are you in the camp of making the most out of any situation?

 

 

 

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