In many small towns across America, the driving economic force is not manufacturing, agriculture or an educational institution, it’s a military base. Without these installations and the money they infuse locally, basic services for residents would disappear, the tax structure crippled beyond repair. Every time the Federal Government releases a list of military base closures, residents of these towns rally en mass to ensure their local base is safe from termination. The marriage between a military base and it’s host location benefit both, and the dependency of every aspect of life on both sides of the main gate is affected.
In the life of a civilian living near a military base, there are few social occasions that do not involve soldiers on some level. From the other players on your bowling league team, to the guy sitting next to you in a tavern, chances are he’s in the military. The children on you child’s Little League team, your child’s classmates, and the kids in your neighborhood may all be military brats. Your coworkers, the waitress at the local diner, or the police officer on patrol may all be spouses of military personnel. It is an inescapable fact of civilian life that the lives of yourself and your family are intertwined with the military professional.
Over time, strong bonds of friendship develop between civilians and individual soldiers. Really no different than any other relationship in their scope, except one of the participants is wearing camouflage fatigues. The only contrast is the realization that one day the friend will depart, either to another military installation, to participate in a distant military conflict, or to be discharged and return to their home. This is the emotional price required to live by a military base, and is paid by both civilians and soldiers.
Without question, the military culture is absorbed by local civilians, and in most cases is embraced willingly. An appreciation of the rigors of military life and the commitment of those individuals who choose to safeguard our freedoms on a daily basis if formed, as are fierce loyalties to the lifestyle. In return, the military base and it’s personnel reciprocate in kind, and ingrain themselves as positive contributors to the local community in a number of areas. The charitable endeavors of soldiers to the civilian community is a constant, and is present within every military base.
In the final analysis, civilian life near a military base can be a great opportunity to learn and become enriched by individuals serving in the military. If an open mind is present, the possibilities are limitless.