Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What's it like living on a military base?

So I have had a ton of questions from people about life on a military base. I am going to attempt here, to answer some of these questions. I'll probably look back at this a year from now and realize that I had everything screwed up, being as I only have a week of experience to draw from. But I'll do my best with what I know.

How big is the base?
The base is the size of the Rhode Island! It is actually the biggest base in the world. However, it is important to understand that a very small portion of that is inhabited. This base is used for training so it has a lot of wooded areas and other types of landscape that I'll never venture onto.

How do you get on base?
Every time we come on base, we have to show ID. If it is before 7pm, only the driver has to show ID figuring the driver is JB or myself. If the driver is a guest, everyone in the car has to show ID. Anytime after 7pm, everyone in the car has to show ID. All guests must have a guest pass. JB and I have permanent IDs.

Does JB get saluted?
Yes, yes, yes. This is very strange. The rules of saluting are as follows: you only salute outside and the person of less rank initiates the salute. JB is a captain so as I understand it, he outranks about 90% of the people in the Air Force. This means he is getting saluted a lot. There are the "enlisted" and there are the "officers". JB is an officer. Officers usually come in with education. This is an advantage of ROTC. If you are in ROTC in college, you enter the military as an officer and not enlisted. Anyways, anytime we are outside, and we pass someone in uniform, JB is usually saluted. Every time we go through the gate, he is saluted. Inside, saluting doesn't exist. (I think this is because going to the grocery store would get exhausting!) You also take off your hat anytime you go inside. If you come visit, the first time you see JB get saluted, it will take you off-guard. I'm getting used to it.

What kind of shopping is on base?
The grocery store is called a "commissary". It is a regular sized grocery store. My favorite part about the grocery store? It has one "master" line that you wait in and then the cashier's highlight their light and a computer says "next" when it is your turn. This means there is no "guessing" which line is faster. You get the next spot. I love this! There is also a place called the "BX". This is like a big Walmart, and everything is tax free. There are appliances and furniture and TVs and clothes and stuff like that. There is also a mini mall where you can get t-shirts and other memorabilia. In addition there is a liquor store, a few fast food places, gas stations, a movie theatre, and probably some other stuff I don't know about yet.

Do you live in a neighborhood?
Yes. If you were in my neighborhood and didn't know it, you'd probably have no idea you were on a military base. The "military stuff" is in different sections. Anyone assigned to this base can live on base except unmarried officers. I'm not sure why, but apparently, they don't have housing for unmarried officers. If you live off base and rent, your housing must be approved.

Is there crime on base?
Apparently there is some crime but very limited amounts. The security on base is very tight. It gets tighter based on the current "threat level". There are also very few accidents because you have to drive SO STINKIN' SLOW on base. On most of the base the speed is 20 or 30!

How far is the hospital from your house?
The hospital/clinic is 1.7 miles from our house. However, driving at 20mph, this takes longer than you would think.

Are there hotels on base?
Yes! Hotels are very cheap. Like $25 a night! We have to book them for you though if you want to stay.

What other activities are there on base?
Well, like I said, there is a movie theatre, pools, a workout center (which I haven't seen yet.) I walked by a little kids' splash park the other day. This was so cool! There are also tons of playgrounds, and I am sure there are a bunch of other activities I don't know of. I know there is a public library. Let's see ... of there is a rental area where you can rent anything for athletic activities, boating, camping. Ummm .... I can't think of anything else right now, but I am sure there is more.

Is JB always at the hospital/clinic?
He will have two rotations that are at a hospital outside of the military and the military base, but otherwise, yes. The hospital and the clinic are attached. Throughout the year he will be doing various rotations (ex. general surgery, dermatology), however, one half day a week, he will be in the clinic seeing patients. He is assigned 70 patients that he is solely responsible for. These 70 stay with him throughout his three years of residency, and more are added to that everyday.

Okay, so that is all the questions I think I have gotten. Are there any others? If so, post a comment, and I'll answer it. Don't worry. There aren't any stupid questions (unless you are Josh and try to write something sarcastic -- and NO, Josh wasn't the one who sent me flowers yesterday!).


TAV said...

That master line ROCKS!!!! And the public library is awesome :)

Sonia said...

Hi Wendi,

This is Sonia from HP. I dropped in to see how you are doing. You made me want to visit you in Fla! :)

Anyway, just wanted to tell you I am praying for you!


Anonymous said...

You have a movie theater? And a gas station? Man! It's like a little town. Or a big town. The size of Rhode Island, huh? Oh, here's a question - what's the population of the base? I'm bad with big numbers, but I'll compare to Rochester (90,000) and Chittagong (3 million) for rough estimates. :)

AW said...

Wendi, thanks for the details...so cool to hear about your surroundings! And that one line at the grocery store...super cool. When are regular grocers going to learn how awesome that is?

Anonymous said...

I think it sounds like a resort! And if John is one of the highest ranks, who does he have to salute? What if you forget to salute? Are you in big trouble?

Anonymous said...

Hey Wen,

I'm kinda, sorta reconnected to the rest of the world now. My apartment complex has computers we can use during business hours. Sound like you are in a very cool place! Hopefully the Johnocracy is prohibited within the boundaries of the base...
If you could, send me an email from your email address. I'd like to have it to type you longer notes.


Anonymous said...

If they don't salute he could make them drop and give him pushups. My daughter is a lower rank than him in the Air Force and I am hoping that there comes a day when they are both in uniform and she forgets to salute him. It would crack me up if he made her give him 20. The best part is that she would roll her eyes at him and say, "Jooooohhhhnnnnn", which then could result in more pushups.

I have to get her out to Eglin sometime soon! :)

Gabbs said...

LOL Ebby!!