4 Things to Do at Every Duty Station

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Isaac Kumia shares his lunch with his child. (U.S. Army/Angela Lorden)
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Isaac Kumia shares his lunch with his child. (U.S. Army/Angela Lorden)

So you moved to a new duty station -- or are about to move away from an old one. You're overwhelmed with housing, finding or saying goodbye to new friends and the exact location of your kids' shot records (where DID you put them?).

Now is the perfect time to take a step back, look around you and enjoy one or two things about your current duty station -- especially if you are getting ready to say "goodbye," and definitely if you are just getting to know it.

4 Must-Do's For Every Duty Station

1. Visit on base museum/monuments/history. Here at Fort Campbell, Ky. we have a Nazi cemetery. Yes, a Nazi cemetery! During World War II a portion of Fort Campbell was used as a Prisoners of War (POW) camp and any German troops who died were also buried here. At Fort Benning, Ga., our last duty station, we happened upon a memorial to military working dogs while out on a walk one day. Yes, a dog memorial. Talk about interesting.

Most military bases are home to monuments, memorials and museums of some kind. They may be obvious (you can't exactly miss the Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Ga.) or you may have to go hunting for them (like the Nazi cemetery). But I promise they are there.

Take the time while at your duty station to check them out. If you're just arriving it will help you get the lay of the land as you hunt for them across base. If you are leaving it will help you make sure you saw all there was to see while there.

2. Go to a local tourist trap. I hate tourists traps. But I think there is something to be said for visiting one as a semi-local. You can go on your own terms, for example. There's no reason to go at the height of tourist season if you can go on your next long weekend in an off season month. Plus, unless you're stationed somewhere like Orlando, Fla., your local tourist trap is bound to be an education in local culture, as well, or require some hunting.

At Fort Campbell, Ky., there is a place (that I, admittedly, haven't hit up yet) called "Patti's 1880s Settlement." From what I can tell, however, there is nothing 1880s about it -- unless mini golf was a big thing then and I've been misinformed. But it's part of the local culture, and we'll be stopping by before we move.

3. Enjoy the best kept secret. In order to enjoy the best kept secret about where you live, you first have to do some investigation. What is the best kept secret, anyway? You'll have to ask around, do some digging and try some new things. And once you discover it? You might have hit upon a reason to like where you are living. Score!

4. Eat a local delicacy. This could get dangerous, at least to normal American sensibilities, if you're stationed overseas or maybe down at Fort Polk, La. For the rest of us the local delicacy is probably just a little outside our taste comfort zone. But it's something I'm so glad I've done at each duty station.

At Fort Lewis, Wa. I learned to love scallops (who even knew they were a thing?!). In Georgia I ate my first sweet potato ever (yes, EVER.) At Fort Campbell, Ky. I tried moonshine and bourbon (can't say I'm a huge fan) and a beer cheese dip in which I would gladly drown. These things have challenged my taste buds and given me an appreciation for my new "home" culture.


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