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(Washington Post)   Military bases are exclusive gated communities run by an utterly insane HOA   (washingtonpost.com) divider line 108
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12886 clicks; posted to Main » on 11 Nov 2013 at 3:13 PM (40 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-11-11 02:33:52 PM
That was a very good read. I'm a former AF brat and also served as an AF officer; all that stuff is right on. I didn't stay for a career but among my friends who did, it's odd how often they seem to wonder what's wrong with the civilian world. It really doesn't occur to them that THEY are the odd ones living in a different wonderland.

The reason for exchanges and commissaries was not that Walmart was more than 10 miles away; more like bases were often 30-60 minutes away from towns. People didn't have two cars then and Mom just drove dad in if she needed the vehicle; she didn't work of course. Pay and benefits were okay but not that great, nothing like today's. Pay for the enlisted troops was (and is) low.

The HOA comparison is pretty good, too. Early one May, I left my house surrounded by 30' high piles of snow to go on vacation. When I returned, there was a ticket on my door for not mowing the grass. Seems they had record warmth while I was gone, even beating normal summer temps, and it melted all the snow and there was my unmowed lawn. This type of "reasonable" is common on base and logical to the military mind.

I'm sure the military would never go the route suggested. They'll claim security needs. But aside form the main areas where weapons are or operational units, most of a given base has minimal security: a chain link fence and occasional police cruiser. In short, the security is less than the ruse the TSA puts us through at the airport.

Another way to bridge that divide is have more people serve. Draft anyone?
 
2013-11-11 02:42:53 PM
Last time I checked, putting yourself on the list for post housing is voluntary (there's usually a massive waiting list), and I know a lot of people who prefer to life off-post in civilian rental properties for exactly the reasons listed.

Most of my friends who lived on post, hated it.  Besides the HOA from Hell rules, there's always the:

"The kids are doing stupid shiat in the barracks.  Call in one of the NCOs."
"Which one?"
"Well, they're SGT Jackson's troops, but he lives way out in BFE.  Oh, call SSG Smith, he lives on base."
 
2013-11-11 03:10:48 PM
 

edmo: Another way to bridge that divide is have more people serve. Draft anyone?


I too, grew up an AF Brat and then went Active Duty after high school.  When I finally left the fold the culture shock was amazing, in many ways I was like a kid leaving home for the first time.

I agree the military culture has grown too insular, self selecting from a specific cultural demographic, a small draft lottery would do wonders for the military AND civilians in the country.
 
2013-11-11 03:13:27 PM

edmo: Draft anyone?


Yes please.

But as to TFA, I have NEVER lived on base in my ≈17 years.  The only time I would is if I were in a primo billet that came with a specific residence.  If you work with a group of people, why the hell would you want to live with them too?
 
2013-11-11 03:24:10 PM
So... The federal government is like an HOA on steroids.
 
2013-11-11 03:24:51 PM

edmo: Draft anyone?


Females only for the next tree wars.
The guys have already pulled their weight.

And mandatory abortions for anyone thinking that is a way out of it.

War is about killing.
Either you're going to kill and kill them all, or you're just dicking around.
Like in Pakistan.
 
2013-11-11 03:26:18 PM
edmo:Another way to bridge that divide is have more people serve. Draft anyone?

Your "solution" is to artificially inflate the size of the military by imposing compulsory "service" during a period in which the country as a whole is already suffering from a great deal of national war fatigue, even though we have not had a legal war since 1945? Ah, I see, very cunning: The resulting public outrage and backlash will result in severe military funding cuts and massive reductions in force that will result in more military personnel having to become civilians and live out in the real world.
No "divide" will be bridged by forcing people to join the military. Instead, the "divide" will be expressed between the draftees and the Janissaries. The former were forced, essentially at gunpoint (threat of imprisonment counts as "at gunpoint"), the latter were born and bred to the task. Throwing them together will not create harmony unless you also intend to engineer a war as pervasive as WWII to go along with it.
 
2013-11-11 03:27:40 PM

vudukungfu: edmo: Draft anyone?

Females only for the next tree wars.
The guys have already pulled their weight.

And mandatory abortions for anyone thinking that is a way out of it.

War is about killing.
Either you're going to kill and kill them all, or you're just dicking around.
Like in Pakistan.


You seem intelligent and your opinions are well reasoned.  Even if you're trolling, this doesn't make any sense.
 
2013-11-11 03:28:30 PM
Navy brat here.

As early as junior high school, I recognized the effect that things like Exchanges and commissaries had on the quality of the community just outside military installations.   The further away you got from a base, the better the schools were, the better the whole damned place was.

We lived apart from the civilian world,psychologically, if not physically, and certainly did not contribute to the tax base.

That having been said, it was nice to have a small 7-11 sized commissary when we  lived in Egypt.
 
2013-11-11 03:28:37 PM
I'm a Marine Core Soldier, so I am getting a kick from these comments.
 
2013-11-11 03:29:04 PM
Is there any other kind of HOA?
 
2013-11-11 03:31:00 PM
Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.  We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it.
 
2013-11-11 03:31:14 PM
Former USCG brat.  The communities I grew up in were different than for the other 4 branches.  They were small towns.  Of the bases only Kodiak had any kind of separation between the base and town.  It was a whole 9 miles.

The civilian world has become too pussified.  The military needs to keep those chickenshiat influences far away.  It's bad enough to have hoplophobes all over the place without them having influence to the services.
 
2013-11-11 03:32:57 PM

nirwana: I'm a Marine Core Corpse Soldier, so I am getting a kick from these comments.


FTFY
 
2013-11-11 03:33:21 PM

Silly_Sot: edmo:Another way to bridge that divide is have more people serve. Draft anyone?

Your "solution" is to artificially inflate the size of the military by imposing compulsory "service" during a period in which the country as a whole is already suffering from a great deal of national war fatigue, even though we have not had a legal war since 1945? Ah, I see, very cunning: The resulting public outrage and backlash will result in severe military funding cuts and massive reductions in force that will result in more military personnel having to become civilians and live out in the real world.
No "divide" will be bridged by forcing people to join the military. Instead, the "divide" will be expressed between the draftees and the Janissaries. The former were forced, essentially at gunpoint (threat of imprisonment counts as "at gunpoint"), the latter were born and bred to the task. Throwing them together will not create harmony unless you also intend to engineer a war as pervasive as WWII to go along with it.


BS. Compulsory service works fine elsewhere. The fact that we have no communal service severely hinders our cohesiveness as a nation. 

How many non-sequiters or reducto absurdums can you put in one post? You can transition to a partial professional force. There will be issues that come up, but this is normal. 

Throwing people together and making them function as a team is the main idea of boot camp. It might do our country some good to make people work together with someone "not from 'round here" for once in their life.

/Navy Vet
 
2013-11-11 03:33:26 PM
WARRIORS LANDSCAPING CODE
 
2013-11-11 03:35:04 PM
Live on base? Hell...I was BORN on base...Ireland Army Hospital, Ft. Knox, KY, FTW.
 
2013-11-11 03:35:53 PM

Ennuipoet: edmo: Another way to bridge that divide is have more people serve. Draft anyone?

I too, grew up an AF Brat and then went Active Duty after high school.  When I finally left the fold the culture shock was amazing, in many ways I was like a kid leaving home for the first time.

I agree the military culture has grown too insular, self selecting from a specific cultural demographic, a small draft lottery would do wonders for the military AND civilians in the country.


Historically, the problem with using conscription as an equalizer has been that the affluent have had ways around it.

In the 19th century, it was outright legal and expected for the wealthy to pay somebody else to serve for them, or to just pay a fee to get out of conscription.   In the 20th century, it was student deferments.  Go to college and you couldn't go to war.  Combine that with people getting dodgy medical disqualifications for relatively minor problems.

As CCR sang about Senator's sons a few decades ago, the rich don't get shot at on the battlefield, and haven't been for a few centuries.  The World Wars were of such a scale that they had it to some degree, but generally speaking as soon as communications meant that the King didn't have to lead from the front, he and the rest of the gentry ran to the rear and stayed there.

I think part of the problem is that society loves to lionize the military, to treat them as heroes. . .but the vast majority of the US would never dare to serve themselves.

I sometimes wonder if the praise heaped upon the military is done with a dash of guilt of the "I couldn't bring myself to do it" variety.
 
2013-11-11 03:36:28 PM

Smeggy Smurf: The military needs to keep those chickenshiat influences far away.  It's bad enough to have hoplophobes all over the place without them having influence to the services.


Yup - just like the best way to cure agoraphobia is to never go outside.
 
2013-11-11 03:36:28 PM
My wifes father was a enlisted turned officer in Panama during operation pineapple tackle.  Former enlisted men were treated like absolute scum of the earth according to her by the other officers and their families, essentially 3rd class citizens.  You were either born an officer or had no business being one.  She loved Panama, but likened the military base housing to something like hell on earth.
 
2013-11-11 03:36:41 PM

FrancoFile: WARRIORS LANDSCAPING CODE


cute.
 
2013-11-11 03:37:06 PM
The civilian-military divide is mainly an Air Force and Army thing. The Navy is a much more broadening experience, because you travel to places where there are people who aren't trying to shoot you, and have a chance to mingle. And generally, Navy bases are in much more cosmopolitan places than Army and AF bases (because all the good stuff is near the water).
 
2013-11-11 03:37:08 PM

the_innkeeper: Throwing people together and making them function as a team is the main idea of boot camp

sports.

Can't they just play a nice game of dodgeball?
 
2013-11-11 03:38:06 PM

Sin_City_Superhero: nirwana: I'm a Marine Core Corpse Soldier, so I am getting a kick from these comments.

FTFY


You have been here long enough to know better.  Dont be that guy.
 
2013-11-11 03:38:34 PM
There used to be inspectors who were allowed in to your housing to see if you had the thermostat set correctly. This was during the early 80's when every base had an energy thermometer set up near the main gate. It showed how much energy the base was using this year as compared to the year prior. Every captain who ran the energy program tried to knock down consumption by 5%. I hated the one that decided we barracks dwellers only needed hot showers 3 weeks out of the month.

NCO Thing One had a hawt blonde wife who wore short shorts and tube tops. She got inspected weekly. NCO Thing Two's wife was a little 'advanced' and busy taking care of 4 kids. She might get inspected monthly.

Now everything is run by private contractors.
 
2013-11-11 03:40:54 PM

the_innkeeper: Silly_Sot: edmo:Another way to bridge that divide is have more people serve. Draft anyone?

Your "solution" is to artificially inflate the size of the military by imposing compulsory "service" during a period in which the country as a whole is already suffering from a great deal of national war fatigue, even though we have not had a legal war since 1945? Ah, I see, very cunning: The resulting public outrage and backlash will result in severe military funding cuts and massive reductions in force that will result in more military personnel having to become civilians and live out in the real world.
No "divide" will be bridged by forcing people to join the military. Instead, the "divide" will be expressed between the draftees and the Janissaries. The former were forced, essentially at gunpoint (threat of imprisonment counts as "at gunpoint"), the latter were born and bred to the task. Throwing them together will not create harmony unless you also intend to engineer a war as pervasive as WWII to go along with it.

BS. Compulsory service works fine elsewhere. The fact that we have no communal service severely hinders our cohesiveness as a nation. 

How many non-sequiters or reducto absurdums can you put in one post? You can transition to a partial professional force. There will be issues that come up, but this is normal. 

Throwing people together and making them function as a team is the main idea of boot camp. It might do our country some good to make people work together with someone "not from 'round here" for once in their life.

/Navy Vet


The French had it until 2000.  It did nothing to integrate the north African minority.
Germany had it until just a few years ago.  it did nothing to integrate the Turkish minority.
The UK had it until 1960, but units were mostly organized around geographical subdivisions of the country. And there was a clear understanding that officers=upper class and enlisted=lower class.

Conscription is neither necessary nor sufficient for national unity.  Sometimes they go hand in hand, sometimes they don't.
 
2013-11-11 03:40:59 PM

orclover:  Former enlisted men were treated like absolute scum of the earth according to her by the other officers and their families, essentially 3rd class citizens.  You were either born an officer or had no business being one.


Absolutely my experience as well; although the wives were the worst offenders.
 
2013-11-11 03:41:19 PM

Sin_City_Superhero: the_innkeeper: Throwing people together and making them function as a team is the main idea of boot camp sports.

Can't they just play a nice game of dodgeball?


Dodging a wrench would be more entertaining.
 
J3
2013-11-11 03:41:58 PM
AF brat here, and I'm apparently one of the few voices here that would defend a lot of the issues with bases being their own little communities. In a couple of the towns we moved to military personal were nothing more than something to tax and use as a pawns instead of the locals since they would soon be moving on.

Most glaring example I ever saw: Need to bus white students to black schools 20 miles away to meet diversity goals? Ship the military kids, not our local voters who will be here longer than you.

Also for families that move around every 1-3 years it much simpler and comforting to integrate into a community of people in the same situation as you than having to keep trying to fit into neighborhoods of people who have lived in the same houses for decades.

There are a few good points raised (especially about transition programs), but that piece mainly read like a couple of officers who never had to ride a bike to the store or look for a inexpensive apartment with an open ended lease.
 
2013-11-11 03:44:09 PM

edmo: That was a very good read. I'm a former AF brat and also served as an AF officer; all that stuff is right on. I didn't stay for a career but among my friends who did, it's odd how often they seem to wonder what's wrong with the civilian world. It really doesn't occur to them that THEY are the odd ones living in a different wonderland.

The reason for exchanges and commissaries was not that Walmart was more than 10 miles away; more like bases were often 30-60 minutes away from towns. People didn't have two cars then and Mom just drove dad in if she needed the vehicle; she didn't work of course. Pay and benefits were okay but not that great, nothing like today's. Pay for the enlisted troops was (and is) low.

The HOA comparison is pretty good, too. Early one May, I left my house surrounded by 30' high piles of snow to go on vacation. When I returned, there was a ticket on my door for not mowing the grass. Seems they had record warmth while I was gone, even beating normal summer temps, and it melted all the snow and there was my unmowed lawn. This type of "reasonable" is common on base and logical to the military mind.

I'm sure the military would never go the route suggested. They'll claim security needs. But aside form the main areas where weapons are or operational units, most of a given base has minimal security: a chain link fence and occasional police cruiser. In short, the security is less than the ruse the TSA puts us through at the airport.

Another way to bridge that divide is have more people serve. Draft anyone?


This anecdote made me smile. I too was in the AF. I was stationed for 6 years at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, MT. We would have snow three feet deep and then *BAM*, snow was gone in the morning. Something called Chinook Winds would come tearing up the Rockies from the south. The winds were stiff and the air warm. It was like Zeus turned on his hair dryer. It was easy for a foot or more of snow to be there when you went to bed and gone when you woke up. That's when the a-hole housing inspectors would go out and write up everybody that had dog shiat in their yard. It seemed that nobody liked to pick up dog crap when it is 3 degrees outside.
 
2013-11-11 03:44:15 PM

the_innkeeper: Silly_Sot: edmo:Another way to bridge that divide is have more people serve. Draft anyone?

Your "solution" is to artificially inflate the size of the military by imposing compulsory "service" during a period in which the country as a whole is already suffering from a great deal of national war fatigue, even though we have not had a legal war since 1945? Ah, I see, very cunning: The resulting public outrage and backlash will result in severe military funding cuts and massive reductions in force that will result in more military personnel having to become civilians and live out in the real world.
No "divide" will be bridged by forcing people to join the military. Instead, the "divide" will be expressed between the draftees and the Janissaries. The former were forced, essentially at gunpoint (threat of imprisonment counts as "at gunpoint"), the latter were born and bred to the task. Throwing them together will not create harmony unless you also intend to engineer a war as pervasive as WWII to go along with it.

BS. Compulsory service works fine elsewhere. The fact that we have no communal service severely hinders our cohesiveness as a nation. 

How many non-sequiters or reducto absurdums can you put in one post? You can transition to a partial professional force. There will be issues that come up, but this is normal. 

Throwing people together and making them function as a team is the main idea of boot camp. It might do our country some good to make people work together with someone "not from 'round here" for once in their life.

/Navy Vet


It's still going to be a pretty small, select group, because 75 percent of kids coming out of high school don't qualify to join the military. They're too fat, too dumb (yes), have chronic illnesses, or have criminal backgrounds. A draft would have some good effects, but it would hurt military effectiveness and waste a ton of money. Wars aren't fought by mass armies any more. Several European countries are getting rid of their conscription system and going to professional armies, because they've seen firsthand how much better the U.S. and U.K. soldiers are than their own. As long as you don't do something stupid like invade and occupy a large country, you don't need all those troops.
 
2013-11-11 03:45:00 PM

Smeggy Smurf: Former USCG brat.  The communities I grew up in were different than for the other 4 branches.  They were small towns.  Of the bases only Kodiak had any kind of separation between the base and town.  It was a whole 9 miles.

The civilian world has become too pussified.  The military needs to keep those chickenshiat influences far away.  It's bad enough to have hoplophobes all over the place without them having influence to the services.


Right on, another USCG brat who lived in Kodiak!  I was there 1973-77 and 1981-83.

The separation between base and town was less on Governors Island (1977-81), but felt much farther.  GI was a spot of normalcy in NYC.
 
2013-11-11 03:45:33 PM
On one hand the military is conservative and  insular.  However, in a strange sort of a way, the military can be very liberal and cosmopolitan too.  While there are some military people who stay on base, there are many that go out and embrace the cultures of the areas where they're deployed.  I would venture a guess that the military probably has more mixed race marriages within the military than there are outside of the military.  Lots of military people are well educated (even the enlisted), and well traveled.
 
2013-11-11 03:45:51 PM

nirwana: I'm a Marine Core Soldier, so I am getting a kick from these comments.


Bullshiat.  I bet you flew F-16s off of Navy carriers
 
2013-11-11 03:45:54 PM

mbillips: As long as you don't do something stupid like invade and occupy a large country, you don't need all those troops.


You were doing so well right up to this point.
 
2013-11-11 03:47:00 PM

vudukungfu: War is about killing.



Combat is about killing.

"War is the continuation of politics by other means."
--Carl von Clausewitz
 
2013-11-11 03:47:11 PM

Shorelinefarker: Smeggy Smurf: Former USCG brat.  The communities I grew up in were different than for the other 4 branches.  They were small towns.  Of the bases only Kodiak had any kind of separation between the base and town.  It was a whole 9 miles.

The civilian world has become too pussified.  The military needs to keep those chickenshiat influences far away.  It's bad enough to have hoplophobes all over the place without them having influence to the services.

Right on, another USCG brat who lived in Kodiak!  I was there 1973-77 and 1981-83.

The separation between base and town was less on Governors Island (1977-81), but felt much farther.  GI was a spot of normalcy in NYC.


Kodiak, 83-85, 89-91.  Fun times during the war.
 
2013-11-11 03:47:18 PM

Smeggy Smurf: nirwana: I'm a Marine Core Soldier, so I am getting a kick from these comments.

Bullshiat.  I bet you flew F-16s off of Navy carriers


I have it on good authority that he was a LCDR in the Marine Core.
 
2013-11-11 03:47:34 PM
Sorry, but a Lt. Gen doesn't have a clue about a 2-4 yr vet E-4/E-5's transitioning... he is so far removed from the dirt and grind of the service... time for him to get a consulting job with Boozers, Allen, and Haig & Haig pinch... (BAH!).

But seriously, a draft would not work now a days... we are way too late for that. What with overweight teen americans and assorted illegal drug usage... you wouldn't want them in the service. (let alone the criminal history issue)... it's not like 1939/1940 all over again... ( keep in mind way back when, a lot of young men were 4F due to malnutrition and other medical conditions exacerbated by the depression/ poverty/ lack of medical care whilst growing up in the '20's).

So, a lot of good 20-30 yr olds are ready for the economy to really recover ( not this fake B/S recession ended in June of 2009 crap!)... and for a real US Govt to get it together!

Hell, you want ACA navigators... who are not felons... there you go!
 
2013-11-11 03:47:59 PM

Sin_City_Superhero: Live on base? Hell...I was BORN on base...Ireland Army Hospital, Ft. Knox, KY, FTW.


Ditto. Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune
 
2013-11-11 03:49:08 PM

zerkalo: Ditto. Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune


I was born there too!
 
2013-11-11 03:50:42 PM
It's the best solution to a horrible problem, at least for the Army and Army Air Corps. Their bases tend to be beyond nowhere, and in order to have a halfway normal existence for the troops, they have to build housing, shops and schools. Otherwise, some poor E-4 will be trying to live on the Barstow, California economy. That's a great way to kill recruiting and retention. The navy is another matter; most of their bases are in pretty sweet locales where you can actually live on the local economy, just not cheaply.
 
2013-11-11 03:50:59 PM
The lacking good information for the transition to civilian life is spot on.  I hire supervisors and managers, many, dare I say most of the resumes and applications I get from military folks are literally indecipherable.  Also they tend to show them to be following orders rather than initiating actions.

Most military folks resumes read like a to do list - ran this, was here, was a MIL8964-A in some country.  Also their skills are poorly listed and in military jargon, lots of abbreviations.  And if they were contractors in Afghanistan driving trucks, 130k.  Not likely for managing a warehouse and 8 people.

Civilian resumes ten to lean toward what they initiated and led

The transition group needs lots of work to guide these folks
 
2013-11-11 03:51:55 PM
Never served, but backpacked around the ETO a few summers in the 80's.

Wandering around Baumholder was a weird reverse culture shock after months of sleeping in hostels and park benches and eating baguettes and runny cheese.

Pulling honest to god USA legal tender out of my wallet to pay for a Whopper from an American teenager was, in a way, a little surreal.
 
2013-11-11 03:52:14 PM
Submitter: Military bases are exclusive gated communities run by an utterly insane HOA

Well, duh!

But in a more constructive way, I didn't mind lliving in base housing when we elected to do so.

After I married about halfway through my Air Force career, we lived off-base in Germay in the nearby village of Mehlingen.  Loved it.

Lived off base briefly in Utah and hated it as we weren't from the local ward. The high school my stepdaughter went to offered her classes in home skills like basket weaving; fellow students thought she was a German exchange student because she just came from Germany, not Florida. Moved into base housing at Hill AFB and had no problems, especially with a new high school.

Live in base housing at Patrick AFB and loved it. Banana River in our backyard. Atlantic beaches just across A1A from our front yard. Good times.
 
2013-11-11 03:53:02 PM
I like these comments.... It allows us to express our opinions and our solutions without ever actually owning up to them or doing anything about it

Stay shiny Fark. A toast to the lazy!
 
2013-11-11 03:53:04 PM

Sgt Otter: Last time I checked, putting yourself on the list for post housing is voluntary (there's usually a massive waiting list), and I know a lot of people who prefer to life off-post in civilian rental properties for exactly the reasons listed.

Most of my friends who lived on post, hated it.  Besides the HOA from Hell rules, there's always the:

"The kids are doing stupid shiat in the barracks.  Call in one of the NCOs."
"Which one?"
"Well, they're SGT Jackson's troops, but he lives way out in BFE.  Oh, call SSG Smith, he lives on base."


That isn't true abroad. Every enlisted person in the army under E7 has to live on post in Germany. It often doesnt even matter if you have a German wife.

Anyway, most of my friends wished they lived off post. I stay away from all the people who refuse to leave post, many of whom biatch that germany is boring even though the farthest they have been off post is 30 mins down the road to the next army base.
 
2013-11-11 03:53:07 PM

J3: There are a few good points raised (especially about transition programs), but that piece mainly read like a couple of officers who never had to ride a bike to the store or look for a inexpensive apartment with an open ended lease.


You make some good points, too

But I have hard to blaming communities for treating military families like outsiders when the personnel seek every opportunity to avoid contributing to the tax base.

Actually, I can't really blame the personnel - people will always seek to minimize cost.  But the branches actively abet tax avoidance with crazy residency rules, alternative retail and grocery shopping, etc.  Hell, even gas stations, FFS.  It results in revenue-starved communities that cannot sustain the population the services are placing there.
 
2013-11-11 03:53:20 PM

Babwa Wawa: Navy brat here.

As early as junior high school, I recognized the effect that things like Exchanges and commissaries had on the quality of the community just outside military installations.   The further away you got from a base, the better the schools were, the better the whole damned place was.

We lived apart from the civilian world,psychologically, if not physically, and certainly did not contribute to the tax base.

That having been said, it was nice to have a small 7-11 sized commissary when we  lived in Egypt.


I'm an Air Force NCO, in my 12th year of active duty.

Military members, especially those for whom it's a 'family business," and have never really lived live as a civilian, have difficulty dealing with the civilian world.  Even if you didn't come from a military family, if you joined the military in your late teens or early twenties, your worldview will be different.

Most members of the military have never had a real job interview.  Most members of the military have never paid a medical bill.  Think about that, and a person like me in his early 30's relating to civilian friends, especially while I've had steady, stable employment without any real fear of layoffs or my company becoming insolvent.  Because they're able to afford it earlier, and have extensive community supports, many get married and start families earlier.

That's not to say it's all bad - military members (even an enlistee who joined the week after high school graduation) are groomed for leadership.  Classes in management are more or less mandatory - Airman Leadership School is usually between 4 and 5 years in.  Depending on the specialty, a 23 year old can easily manage a team of 5 or more.  A 30 year old may manage 30.  Many have never, and will never worry about a down payment for a house, as the VA guarantees the loans.  Most have never needed a cosigner to buy a new car.  Higher education is highly encouraged, with a strong emphasis on self-improvement.  Fitness is mandated, but with that are gyms, personal trainers, nutrition classes, etc. at little or no cost.

In a time when college costs are spiraling higher, student loan debt is a serious drag on the economy, employment is questionable, and Americans collective belt-lines are swelling like millions of pregnant ladies' ankles, the difference in culture and worldview is surprising if you never venture beyond (either direction) the fence line of the installation.  

I got married early, and as often happens, got divorced after a few years.  I just remarried this summer, and my wife has had little interaction with military culture.  Most of our friends are civilians, and the difference between our worlds can be stunning.  I'm still surprised to meet 25-30 year olds who are sort of listing around in delayed adolescence, sometimes even living at home still, working service industry jobs, with no real plan for the future.  I'm even more surprised to meet 30-somethings who aren't well established in a career.

My wife told me that she never thought she'd marry a military guy, and that I didn't match her stereotype at all.  My coworkers wonder why on earth I'd want to hang around with a bunch of slacker civilians who can't possibly understand us.  As bases have consolidated in large Joint Bases, and smaller installations have closed, particularly in higher cost-of-living areas  (i.e., the large coastal population centers), we will only become more insular, more cut off from the nation we supposedly represent.

We need to build better bridges, no doubt.  On a personal scale, it's easy.  On a national scale, I have no idea how it could be done.
 
2013-11-11 03:53:24 PM
Another former Coastie brat here. It's an interesting read, but more for those who are/were active in one of the branches. I was hoping to see more about the impact on families living on base.

I've lived on two separate installations early in life - one Air Force, another USCG. Thinking back, there was definitely a civilian/military divide at the Air Force base. While we'd occasionally leave base for trips outside, a lot of life was on base. The USCG installation didn't so much suffer a civilian/military divide as a geographical divide. That had its own host of problems.

Wasn't until junior high that my family started living off base. It was a bit of a shock going from living on base to living out amongst civilians. Think the worst part was trying to fit in with families that have been in the area for years and years. Especially if you moved into an insular small town. Good luck with that.
 
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