What To Do When You Hate Your Duty Station

Keating Bartlett

There are many spouses who hate the base they’re currently stationed at. And it's for good reason, I guess. First off, it's a very small Marine Corps air station. Not much happens on our base and not a whole lot happens out in town either. If you want fun, on-base events, you have to drive to Camp Lejeune, which is about an hour away. There's also really not a whole lot to do around here. We have Raleigh a couple hours away and some beautiful beaches and fun festivals, but for some, it's not enough. This happens at many bases. You're not always going to like every base you’re stationed at, but there are plenty of things you can do to make the most of an unfortunate situation.  

Look for something positive.
Whether you want to believe it or not, there is something positive about your duty station. You just have to find it. Although there's not a whole lot around here, the weather is beautiful. Growing up in the state of Maine, I hate wintertime. I really do have seasonal depression. I'm not sure why some people love the wintertime. Gray skies, freezing cold temperatures, snow. No thank you. Having nice weather is amazing. I love the sunshine and warm weather. If we ever wanted snow, all we'd have to do is take a weekend trip to the mountains.  There are also plenty of beautiful beaches along the coast. Raleigh isn't too far and Myrtle Beach is just a few hours south of us. There are things to do if you're willing to think outside the box. I'd live here over Maine any day.  

It's important to focus on the positive aspects of your current duty station rather than the negative, otherwise you'll never be happy. Where you live isn't up to you, so realize this early and accept what you cannot change. Make the most of your time there!

Make friends.
Take the time to get out of the house and meet people. Don't just sit inside all day because you don't like where you're living. That's rather depressing. Take on a part-time job or do some volunteer work or go back to school.  Participate in on-base events or fitness classes. It's good to have friends to keep you company during the trainings and deployments and crappy work schedules that our spouses all have. We are so fortunate to have such amazing friends here in North Carolina. We celebrate every holiday with them when we're unable to go home and it makes it so much easier to be away from our friends and family. They're like our second family. There are so many ways to get involved and meet people. You just have to put yourself out there.

Research the location ahead of time.
The moment your spouse gets his/her orders, get online and research your new duty station. What restaurants are nearby? How much does housing cost? What is there to do in the area? Check out the schools, etc.  Get a feel for what's around and create a bucket list of things you want to do while you're stationed there. You can even find Facebook groups for your new base so you can ask questions when needed and make some friends before arriving.

Lower your expectations.
I'm not saying to go into it thinking you'll hate it, but definitely don't go into it thinking it's going to be anything like your last duty station or like your hometown. Chances are, it won’t be.  It's a whole new location and will consist of new experiences as well. If it doesn't meet your expectations, then you'll be left feeling very disappointed which isn't a great start to a new chapter in your life. If you keep your expectations low, then it will be easier for your new base to exceed them.

Accept what you cannot change.
I think a big part of why so many military spouses hate where they live is because they didn't get to choose it. They had no say in where they moved. As someone who's a huge control freak, it drives me insane that I have no choices in so much of our life. Everything is pretty much decided for us.  While this does suck sometimes, you cannot change it so you shouldn't waste your time upset over it. Instead, make the most of your time there. In most cases, you'll only be there for a couple years and then you'll be onto the next place. So enjoy the adventure!

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