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About Joint Base Lewis-McChord

10 facts you need to know

Capt. Jonathan Bowe plays fetch with his dog at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Jacob Jimenez

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Whether you just pulled up to the front gates at Joint Base Lewis-McChord or it's on the PCS horizon for you and yours, there are some essential things every new arrival at JBLM needs to know.

1. This is a joint base and that means there are double the services and options available to ID card holders. From the childcare to the fitness centers to the commissaries, it's all fair game, whether you are Army or Air Force.

2. Social media groups can answer every little question at a base this size because, chances are, some other JBLMer has been there, done that already. Depending on your circumstances, there are tons to choose from on Facebook alone, like Pregnant JBLM Wives, JBLM Special Needs Families, or even JBLM Babysitters - which is a great resource for transplant families. Of course, our JBLM Families Facebook is awesome.

3. Madigan Army Medical Center, a Regional Medical Command for the Army, is a fully functioning hospital, complete with a Level Two trauma center designation. It boasts numerous specialty clinics and pilot programs, as well as multiple pharmacy locations, to make healthcare on base easier. For a complete listing, view www.mamc.amedd.army.mil.

4. Unfortunately, the rumors are true - traffic on I-5 and on the roads surrounding the base can be rough. Luckily, the Washington Department of Transportation's multiple live cameras can help commuters monitor the gates and the exits used to access base and shed some light on traffic patterns and delays. To get a head start, check out www.wsdot.com/traffic/dupont/.

5. Housing here is good, whether you're looking on base or off. Much of the housing on base, operated by Equity Residential, has either been built recently or renovated; homes that have yet to be updated will be soon. Living off base is both affordable and convenient, no matter what your preferences. There are rural areas with large plots of land just 20-30 minutes from the gate, and urban areas even closer.

6. Space A travel is readily available through the 62d Airlift Wing at McChord Field. Although Space A travel still requires some flexibility from travelers, flights leave routinely every day, heading to destinations across the country. To see flights, look at www.facebook.com/mcchordpt.

7. Stone Education Center, located on Lewis Main, is a state-of-the-art facility with a computer lab, study areas, a bookstore and a coffee shop. There are a number of onsite classes offered through the five different colleges/universities with offices on base so you're not relegated strictly to distance learning when working on a degree. For more, visit www.lewis-mcchord.army.mil/dhr/eso/services.htm.

8. The park system on JBLM rivals that of many small towns. In addition to the many baseball and soccer fields, there is a football and track stadium, a large playground with foam padding that is entirely wheelchair-accessible, an adjacent splash park for warmer days and even a skate park for the bigger kids, as well as an enclosed dog park for four-legged family members.

9. Unlike many other military installations, JBLM is directly situated between two cities - Tacoma and Olympia - and is only an hour away from Seattle. Nature also envelops the cities in the Pacific Northwest, so within 30 minutes from base you can find yourself climbing Mount Rainier or kayaking in the Puget Sound. With so many options and three noteworthy cities that are known for extending a welcoming hand to servicemembers, there's no excuse not to get out and explore.

10. Finally, much like the traffic, the rain is real. However, if you wait to do things until the weather is perfect, you'll miss out on a lot. Besides, it doesn't rain all the time - and when it doesn't, the days are beautiful, temperate and worth the wait.

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