Base Dress Code Enforcement on the Rise


If a uniformed servicemember walked up to you in the base exchange and told you that shopping in your gym clothes was in violation of the official dress code, how would you respond?

Here at SpouseBuzz we have noticed that your opinions on base dress codes can often be placed into two general categories:

Some civilian family members and base workers are firm about the rights of the individual.  They say things like, "No one in uniform can tell me what to do -- I'm not a servicemember!"

And then there is the bulk of our readers who chime in on the side of the rules.  They say things like: "If you choose to be on base, you have to conform to base rules. Don't like them? Go somewhere else."

We know that the dress code enforcement is not necessarily a new thing -- but it may be a thing that is going to start happening more and more at least on Army bases. Heralded as a sign that the military is returning to a home front mindset after what seems like eons of war, several news outlets have recently highlighted base dress code and behavior enforcement 'courtesy' patrols.

The patrols have one simple task: make sure everyone is behaving themselves around base and, when they aren't, say something. At some bases, like Fort Irwin, Calif., they are enforcing a posted dress code. Other places, like Fort Campbell, Ky., they are enforcing a simple "expectation of decency," according to post officials.

The patrols are aimed primarily at on and off-duty servicemembers to help uphold standards, many of which are contained in military regulations. Are they wearing PT uniforms in unauthorized locations? Are they sporting shirts with obscene slogans in their off-duty hours? Are they horsing around and causing a disturbance? Courtesy Patrol is on the case!

But because of the nature of the task, it's not just servicemembers who could find themselves chatting with the courtesy patrol. Spouses, family members, civilian employees, contractors and anyone else who happens to be knowingly or unknowingly violating any portion of the bases's dress or behavior code could be confronted.

"It gets back to the old argument – you would expect things to be a little more orderly a little more defined, if you will, and maybe a little stricter than what you might find in the civilian sector and it's up to leadership to enforce that and to teach that,"  Robert Jenkins, a Fort Campbell spokesman told us. "And that's why the courtesy patrols exist -- to help leadership enforce what should be common sense things about apparel and stuff like that."

And not responding to a courtesy patrol order could result in the most extreme cases, at least at Fort Campbell, with being permanently banned, Jenkins said.

"There have been extreme cases where sponsorship has been cut off where a family could not live on post ... because they were not conforming to the standards that had been set to the community at large," he said.

Jenkins said at Fort Campbell, the entire program is based on an expectation that people will use common sense and common courtesy in public. But we know that is not always the case.

With dress code and behavior enforcement apparently on the rise, we want to know -- do you think this is a good thing? Should all bases, regardless of service, task personnel with wandering the Exchange enforcing the local standards?

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