If you were to have asked me what my hometown(Flagler County, Florida) was like when I was a teenager/young adult, you would have been hard pressed to get any kind of positive answer from me. I come from a small community that for the longest time seemed to have nothing to offer. Because my hometown didn’t have its own mall or plethora of dining choices or public transportation or any of the other things that living in a decent sized community offers, I would have more or less told you I lived in “hell on earth”. But then I grew up. Then I began to appreciate different things in life. Today, as a grown man with a family, I would tell you that Flagler County is a “little slice of heaven”. As my hometown has grown, I sorta wish it was more the way it used to be.
What does my hometown have to do with this month’s Post With The Most(PWTM) segment? Well, depending on who you ask about an area and at what stage they may be in life very well may affect their answer.
One of the first things any of us does when we start “hearing” our family may get orders to a location is start asking people about that installation. We want to know all the pros and cons. After all, this is the very reason Army Wife Network does our PWTM segment. Unfortunately there are some installations that get a bad rap. Sure, Fort Wainwright, Alaska is far from the tropical paradise of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; but if we base every PCS move on what it would be like to be stationed in Hawaii, or in America’s 8th largest city(San Antonio, Ft Sam Houston) or any other place that offers a very long list of amenities, well we may often times be left disappointed when we get where we are going.
Fort Leonard Wood(FLW for parts of this article) is one of those places that without a doubt gets a bad rap. It even has a nickname that is an instant turnoff to many. FLW is often times referred to in our Army community as “Fort Lost in the Woods”. Sure, it’s kinda catchy and cute. And it may even be partly true. But I think when we hear “Fort Lost in the Woods” we are all envisioning some desolate and remote outpost that General Custer is still commanding in his fight against the Indians.
Fort Leonard Wood may not offer what living in a large city offers, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good place to raise your family for a few years(or a lifetime). One of the best aspects we hear about this installation is that because of the immense community support in Waynesville(AWESOME NAME!) and St Robert, it makes for a higher quality of living for our military families. There is something to be said about a smaller community that understands the military lifestyle, appreciates the sacrifices our families make and puts an emphasis on being there when we need them. Think of it this way, unlike living in a large city with a large school district; your children will go to a school with a faculty and staff that is VERY MUCH familiar with the roller coaster life your child lives. And that will make for your child’s transition to be that much smoother.
Fort Leonard Wood is known as a TRADOC post because of all the schools on the installation. The schools range from training up the newest of the new recruits in BCT(Basic Combat Training) to advanced schooling both for AIT(Advanced Individual Training) and Advanced Leaders Course’s. Because of such a heavy emphasis on training up soldiers you can see an influx of traffic on many Thursday’s and Friday’s when families come to see their loved ones graduate.(This may be where the nickname “Fort Lost in the Woods” comes from. Some city slicker who was coming to see their child graduate from BCT got lost one time and the name stuck.) In addition to more traffic on post during graduation times you can also expect a larger than average crowd at the PX as those with family in town are being spoiled and those without family in town are spoiling themselves with a well deserved graduation present. And on Sunday’s, expect the PX to be as busy as the commissary on payday. Most of the students work 6 days a week and the only day they really have time to stock up on anything they may need or want, is on a Sunday.
As is the case with EVERY Duty Station, you have to go out and explore your area and region. Any time we forget that exploring our temporary home is a “must do”, we miss out on something very special and unique.
Just 2.5 hours away is St Louis where of course is the Arch of St Louis, but also the Budweiser main facility where you can take a tour and get a brew right off the line(if of age of course). And a little known fact is that the Bowling Hall of Fame is in St Louis as well.
Approximately 1.5 hours away is Springfield, MO and just over 2 hours away is Branson, MO. Both of these places will offer you anything and everything you would ever want/need when it comes to amenities. And the trip through the Ozark Mountains is from what I am told, “breathtaking”.
**Since writing this blog post, my family visited Branson for a mini vacation. After spending 5 nights there, the thought of being stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, which would allow us regular visits to the Branson area and a day trip through the Ozark Mountains, makes me want to put Fort Leonard Wood on our list of duty stations we hope to be stationed at. Branson was an AWESOME time away and with the ability to make a day trip out of it, I am envious of those of you who are at/going to Fort Leonard Wood.**
Being that Fort Leonard Wood is nestled within the Ozark Mountains, there are a lot of outdoor activities to participate in. Including checking out some caves and caverns. Enjoying the outdoors isn’t for everyone, but I say this to you if you are preparing for a PCS to Fort Leonard Wood, “go get ‘lost in the woods’, you never know what you will find. You may even find your own slice of heaven over yonder at Fort Leonard Wood.”.
Remember, no matter what installation your family is at it will have good things and bad things, pros and cons, but “home is where the Army sends us”, and we have to make due with what we have. Every post we visit has the ability to be the Post With The Most. It just depends on how we view things.
For more information on Fort Leonard Wood, as well as other installations, visit Army Wife Networks website and check for our Post With The Most link. There you will find a separate PWTM segment that may offer you the information you need to make your PCS/transition a little smoother.