Legal Quandary

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'll Bet You Thought You Were Rid of Me

But no such luck. I've just been busy with work and/or out of town for the last couple of months. Alleghenyman asks the following question:

Can you try to describe social life on base? I'm a little concerned about moving every two years and not making many friends in sleepy places like Arkansas or Dayton OH where I don't know anybody. I may be married going in, to a nonmilitary spouse, and wonder what it will be like for her too.

Social life just sort of depends on where you're stationed. Some bases are much more close knit than others. For example, every person I've ever known who was stationed at Minot has RAVED about the sense of community on base. I've heard similar things about overseas bases like Kunsan, where there just isn't a ton to do off base. (Hint: if you ever ask people about a base and their response is either 1) do you like to hunt & fish, or 2) they have a great fitness facility, this is code for the weather is bad most of the year and there's nothing else to do.)

Your individual office will also have a lot to do with your social life. For example, even though our office doesn't socialize together a whole lot outside of work, we have weekly PT sessions or team building exercises, so we actually get to know each other fairly well. Plus chances are that you'll find at least one or two people you "click" with in just about any office.

There are also a wide variety of organizations on base that try to encourage you to get to know people. One of the best organizations for a new JAG, if you can find the time to participate, is the Company Grade Officers' Council (CGOC). Not every base has a great one, but this is usually a good way to meet other people who are about the same age and have similar levels of military experience. I'm not currently a member of the CGOC (I don't really fit the mold) but have been at my previous bases. I can't tell you the number of times just knowing the lieutenant or captain who runs the __________ office has made my life easier. PLUS, some of the lieutenants and captains you meet will eventually grow up to be the commanders you'll advise later in your career. Other options are the various church groups, running clubs, tennis clubs, etc. on base. On some bases the spouses clubs - either through what used to be the Officers' Club, or through the unit, etc - are very active. Check at the Family and Community Support Center, the Chapel, or the Services organization on base - all of these tend to have some good information available, especially for families.

PLUS, all the military members are pretty much in the same boat, so in most offices you're "part of the family" as soon as you hit the base. You'll also be appointed a sponsor to help you get settled into the office and the community. Also - don't neglect the civilians working in your office! They can usually give you great information on neighborhoods and schools and are a great resource.

There are times that moving around every few years gets old. For one thing, every time I move, I have to fill out a new Dependent Care Plan, which details who will take care of my kids if my husband and I were both gone at the same time for some reason. One of the requirements of this form is that you list someone who could take care of your kids with less than 24 hours notice. It's always fun trying to decide which of the people you've known for less than a month you should entrust with the wellbeing of your offspring!

That said, one of my favorite things about military life is that know people almost everywhere I go. I recently took a trip to San Antonio - one of my bridesmaids lives there. After that, I went to Montgomery. A guy who left my office about a year ago is there now PLUS one of my best friends from my first assignment is there. Additionally, you'll go to JASOC (JAG training) with between 20 and 70 other JAGs. Chances are good you'll keep running into your classmates, and occasionally working with them, the rest of your career.

I know this may not totally answer your question. I apologize - I've been traveling a bunch lately and am, in fact, hopping on another airplane this afternoon, but wanted to get some kind of answer out there! Follow up questions?