Joint Base Lewis-McChord commands, units, housing and amenities

Fact: JBLM is one of the largest military installations in the United States

By Melissa Renahan on October 11, 2013

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is one of the largest military installations in the United States, covering close to 415,000 acres of land (including the Yakima Training Center) and employing more than 55,000 military and civilian personnel. It is the largest employer in Pierce County and the third largest employer in all of Washington state. The base has a large, growing residential population and functions as a small city unto itself, complete with autonomous emergency services, commissaries, post offices and various other shops and eateries. It is estimated that more than 250,000 people access the thriving base on a regular basis.

Prior to becoming a joint base under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2010, JBLM was two separate entities, Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. Fort Lewis, originally called Camp Lewis, was first established in 1917 and was the namesake of Captain Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame.

The airfield, originally called Tacoma Field, opened in 1930 and although it was renamed McChord Field in 1940, it remained a part of Fort Lewis until 1947 when the Air Force was created and it became its own base.

Commands and Units

JBLM is home to a multitude of units, as well as a corps headquarters, an airlift wing and an Infantry Division.

Additionally, these other subordinate units are also assigned to JBLM:         




Training Area

The Yakima Training Center spans 327,000 acres and is utilized by soldiers for live fire, land warrior system testing and maneuver training. While most of the terrain is undeveloped and covered with rough terrain, the Army has added the Multi-Purpose Range Complex and the Shoot House and Urban Assault Course for training purposes. The Vagabond Army Airfield and Selah Airstrip are located within the YTC, as well an AAFES shoppette, gym and community club for the benefit of the soldiers and families who may be temporarily stationed out there.


There are currently 16 neighborhoods, each with its own appeal, on Lewis Main and Lewis North and another five located at McChord Field. All on base housing is privatized and managed by Equity Residential and subject to availability.

Neighborhoods on Lewis Main

Neighborhoods on Lewis North

Neighborhoods on McChord Field


Madigan Army Health Center is a premier hospital located right on Lewis Main. They provide primary care, pediatric care, pre- and post-natal care, a 24-hour emergency room, as well as surgical and specialty clinics. MAMC has a large pharmacy onsite, a drive-thru refill window and four other pharmacies across the base. There are also satellite clinics available for the patients specifically assigned there, like the Nisqually Clinic, Winder Family Clinic and the Madigan Annex on Lewis Main, the Okubo Family Medicine and Dental Clinic on Lewis North and the McChord Field Medical Clinic.

Base Shopping

In addition to the commissaries, exchanges and class VI establishments located on both Lewis Main and McChord Field, JBLM also offers residents two first-rate thrift stores, as well as access to popular restaurants like Burger King, Cinnabon, Pizza Hut, Subway, Einstein Bros Bagels, Starbucks and Popeye's. Domino's will also deliver pizza to anywhere on base from its two locations inside the gates.

Those with JBLM access can also patronize GNC Supplement Center, Game Stop, or utilize the services at the UPS Store, Shur-Kleen Car Wash, Enterprise Car Rental and Firestone Auto Center, all of which have multiple locations on the base. JBLM's central location in Pierce County and near Thurston County also means that there is no lack of eateries, grocery stores and countless retail options just outside the gates.

Recreation and Amenities

JBLM residents and anyone with proper military ID can take advantage of the amenities and activities located across the base.

Get a great deal on recent and current movies at Carey Theater on Lewis Main and on weekends; the McChord Theater shows movies for free.

Bowling Arena Lanes on Lewis Main and Sounders Lanes on McChord Field both offer discounted rates to bowl a few frames with the family or to join a league.

If golf is more your game, you can play 18 beautiful holes at either Eagles Pride on Lewis Main or Whispering Firs on McChord Field. Both offer discounted rates to active-duty and retirees.

AFC Arena offers a rink for anyone wanting to skate or blade indoors at a low price. The spot is also available for parties and is home to the popular Battle Bean coffee shop.

The Commons, which has a splash park and an ADA-compliant playground, provides a reprieve from the hot days of summer for kids on Lewis Main.

Adults age 18 and older can play too at the Warrior Zone on Lewis North. The recreational facility offers state-of-the-art gaming, billiards, WiFi throughout and even has a patio with an outdoor fire pit.

Both the Lewis Army Museum and McChord Air Museum are open to the public and offer free admission. They contain a treasure trove of history, antiques and military memorabilia reflecting the Army and the Air Force, respectively.

Head outside with Northwest Adventure Center, Lewis Main and Adventures Unlimited, McChord Field. Trips are routinely planned every weekend (during the summer there are also weekday trips) for minimal costs and range from kayaking and hiking to bungee jumping and family-friendly trips to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. 

Residents and anyone with proper military or dependent ID can stay fit at any of the fitness centers located across base. Classes are also offered at no additional cost and personal training sessions can be arranged. Jensen Family Health & Fitness Center, McVeigh Sports & Fitness Center, Sheridan Sports & Fitness Center and Soldiers Field House Sports & Fitness Center all on Lewis Main; Wilson Sports & Fitness Center, Lewis North and McChord Main Fitness Center and Annex, McChord Field.

JBLM also offers pools that can be used for laps, water aerobics or just having fun and cooling off. Keeler Pool, Kimbro Pool, and Soldiers Field House Pool are all indoor and on Lewis Main; there is also the McChord Outdoor Pool, McChord Field, which is only open during the summer.

Children's Education

All of the schools located on JBLM are part of the Clover Park School District, which also encompasses the nearby city of Lakewood. There are six schools on JBLM: Beachwood Elementary School, Carter Lake Elementary School, Clarkmoor Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Greenwood Elementary School and Hillside Elementary. For middle school and high school, on-base students are bused to off-base schools within the Clover Park School District.

Continuing Education

For adults, the base offers secondary education at the David. L. Stone Army Education Center on Lewis-Main, the John D. "Bud" Hawk CMH Army Education Center on Lewis-North, and the Air Force Education and Training Section on McChord Field. All three facilities offer bachelor and graduate level programs through a handful of colleges and universities, large computer labs, academic testing and basic skills classes, as well as other resources for servicemembers, veterans and dependents. 

See Also

Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base merged Jan. 31, 2010