Life in the Military


Military duty stations and bases can be quite large, and living on one is a lot like living in a town. On each you can find post offices, shopping centers, medical and dental clinics, and other businesses. These amenities are open to all resident service members and their immediate families.

On-Base Comforts of Home

Follow Air Force Master Sgt. Aaron “A.J.” Wilson on a tour of the many convenient amenities and services that bases offer to make service members living there feel at home. These include ample shopping, fitness and dining experiences that you might expect to find in any city or town in America.

Length 1:46 View Transcript


Being from a small town. I have that sense of you know, community and that's what I feel when I'm living on a military installation. Everywhere we go you know, it's it's friendly faces, it's people that you know, you know. Live together and eat together and work out together through grocery shop together. No matter what base you go to. No matter what installation you go to. You're gonna have that simple niceties such as having the commissary just right down the road and that's what we grocery shop and we'll buy the exact same groceries moved by downtown if I have a commish and compare those prices and I can tell you, you're not gonna find groceries a senior downtown not to mention the convenience of it.

The exchange is gonna be more like your retail store it's almost like going to the mall well you got local vendors that set up stands over there we have a rotating food truck you know every day is a different food truck over there it's one-stop shopping and then right next to that is the gym between the two you know the gyms that we have here we have everything that you can find downtown we have racquetball to get the indoor tracks they also have what my wife likes to call the bottom.  The area it's an actual indoor playground.

I was pretty cool I haven't seen many of those at the dining facility we have anything from super healthy options to, you know, you go get burgers and fries and pizza. It's up to you. The menu changes every day. I've lived all over the world and I can tell you that living on base is a positive experience for not just me but for myself it's just that small-town feel after you're here for a while you're gonna be family.

Exchanges & Shops

If you’re shopping for clothing, household items, electronics, jewelry, furniture and more, an exchange is where you’ll want to go. Although they’re known by many acronyms, like BX (base exchange), PX (post exchange) and AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service), each is essentially a department store (or shopping center) where service members and their families can purchase tax-free items with very little markup cost.

Exchanges are also home to other conveniences, like barbershops, salons, florists, gas stations, laundromats, dry cleaners and other independent vendors.


In the Military, a commissary is just another word for a tax-free grocery store. They carry most things that you would expect to find in the civilian supermarket, like familiar brand-name products, fresh produce, toiletries and other essentials.

Shopping at a Commissary

Dining Establishments

When it comes to grabbing a bite on base, there is no shortage of dining destinations. On the majority of bases and installations, you can expect to find dining facilities (DFACS) like chow halls, mess halls and other cafeteria-style meals throughout the day. Many bases are also home to familiar fast-food franchises and even popular food trucks.

Service members who don’t have access to military-provided food facilities are provided with a Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) to help offset food costs as part of their salary and compensation.

Fitness, Wellness & Safety Facilities

When it comes to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness, service members have many support services at their fingertips.

Fitness Centers

As a service member, you are expected to maintain a certain level of physical fitness. Military installations provide countless ways for you to stay active, such as:

  • Gyms
  • Running tracks
  • Sports facilities and more

Hospitals & Clinics

Like many communities across the country, military stations often have their own hospitals, medical clinics or both.

Chapels & Places of Worship

On-base chapels, the chaplains who serve them, and other religious operations personnel aim to provide service members from all religions and denominations a place to worship, observe their faith and seek personal counseling.

Police & Fire Services

The safety and security of residents on base is taken very seriously. That’s why many installations have their own police, firefighting and emergency response forces.

Continued Education Resources

On military installations, service members are able to grow as individuals through various adult learning facilities, including education centers, libraries and even satellite college campuses.

Endless Enrichment

Joining the Military is a big commitment, but serving doesn’t mean putting personal growth on hold. The truth is, everyone who lives on base, or has access to one, will have a range of education options to help them feel enriched, empowered and fulfilled.

Length 1:05 View Transcript


Being around the base has helped me grow as an individual both emotionally and mentally. We have so many resources whether it's the education center, because it provides a way for you to find your path in your educational aspirations. It's nice to have the library, to have an environment on base for self-betterment and growing through the knowledge that's available to you in that resource. The arts and crafts center it’s nice to have around because you have that opportunity to delve into different hobbies and try different passions and also, grow with the people around you and create new relationships. The opportunities are endless you can build your education toolbox as much as you want, and you will get nothing but support. I think I definitely feel more in control of my life due to the communication skills and personal growth skills that I've acquired in my short time in the military so far.

Schools & Youth Programs

If you have child dependents or plan on starting a family, the military community has your back. Most bases are filled with amenities to help children learn and grow, like:

  • Day care
  • Family Child Care (FCC) homes
  • Child development centers (CDC)
  • K-12 schools
  • Before- and after-school programs
  • Middle school/teen programs
  • Summer vacation camps