Three Tips for Making the Most of Your New Duty Station
About the Author

Jennifer Kennedy is an Army Veteran, Army wife, and grew up as an Army brat. Her husband, 3-soon-to-be-4 kids, and 2 cats are currently experiencing all Fort Carson and the surrounding area has to offer. When she's not exploring her duty station, she is blogging over at where she shares recipes, craft and sewing tutorials, and recaps of her duty station adventures. 

Military life has some definite perks. One thing that can provide new and fun opportunities is moving. Sure, it’s stressful and hard to leave friends but it’s exciting to be able to go to new places and see new things that you may not otherwise get a chance to experience. Every duty station has it’s good points and focusing on them can keep you and your family from getting hung up on the bad aspects. Here are some tips to make sure your next duty station is the best it can be.  

  1. Before you even get there, look up the city online. Most locations have some kind of tourism website and taking a peek at what activities are available and what kind of things to be prepared for. Does your new town have a lot of outdoor activities? Make sure to pack appropriate attire and footwear in your suitcase. You never know how long you’ll be without a house so having your bathing suit or sneakers will mean your weekends won’t be filled with boring hotel time. You can also search for other military spouse’s blogs who live at your new location and see what their families are doing with their time at your new duty station. Another great resource to check out before you arrive is Military OneSource. Since my eldest child is in EFMP, I like to check out what the EFMP Family Services are at my new location. They also list helpful tips to prepare you for arrival, any paperwork needed, and advice on what to hand-carry so enrollment in your child’s new school is as seamless as possible. Military OneSource will also have resources for childcare, the ACS lending closet, and relocation assistance should you need it.
  2. When you arrive, take the time to just drive around. Scope out the activities you saw online. Do they look like fun in person? Were the descriptions accurate? Once you have an idea of what things you want to do, make a bucket list. We made a bucket list in Hawaii and it made our time seem well spent. Sure, you can wing it but having a plan means there will be things to look forward to. And remember, your bucket list is a living document so don’t be afraid to update and change it as your time at your duty station goes on.  
  3. Finally, ask the locals what’s good. Is there a local newspaper? Pick up a copy and see what restaurants or local attractions are being recommended. You can eat at chain restaurants anytime so don’t be afraid to try a local favorite. Is your new city known for a particular dish or two - try them! Every city has something special about it and you don’t want to look back and realize you missed out. Going to local events or attractions can help you build a sense of community and make your duy station feel more like home rather than just the latest stop in your military career.  Also stop by your installation’s family readiness or community services center, they usually have an incoming spouse program, duty station tour, or welcome packets to help get orientated to your new duty station Military OneSource will have the contact information and a description of welcome services when you search by duty location.  

Taking the time to research and plan our your duty station can excite you and your family. Giving everyone something to look forward to can give a sense of stability in the middle of move. Not every duty station starts out looking like a winner but having a plan going in can make even the “worst” duty stations be an enjoyable and memorable time for your family.

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