PCS orders to Fort Bragg? Welcome to Coastal North Carolina! Bragg is famously known as the home of the 82nd Airborne Division, but it also houses Special Operations Forces, 18th Airborne Corps, Air Force, and PsyOps. It is one of the largest Army installations in the world and is home to more than 50,000 active duty soldiers. But before you start yelling '"All the way," let's dive in and learn more about your duty station.
WHERE IS FORT BRAGG?
Fort Bragg is located close to Fayetteville, North Carolina almost in the middle of the state. Bragg is such a large installation that several counties are located around the post borders. Nearby counties include; Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, and Moore. Popular cities within Cumberland County are Fayetteville, Eastover, Spring Lake, Hope Mills, Linden, and Wade. Harnett County includes many small towns such as Lillington, Dunn, Erwin, Coats, and Bunn Level. Hoke County provides the popular town of Raeford and Moore County has the well-known golf town of Southern Pines, Pinehurst, Aberdeen, Whispering Pines, Vass, and Cameron.
FORT BRAGG HOUSING
Should you live on post or off? Corvias Military Living is the leasing agent for on-post living. It's a good idea to do thorough research of on-post housing before committing to it. Due to the history and age of Fort Bragg, some housing options are in better condition than others. Check out all of your options prior to making a decision and signing a lease. A lease is not easily broken if you move in and are dissatisfied with your living space. Convenience is the biggest reason why families choose to live on-post.
Living off post has its perks as well. Due to the sheer size of Fort Bragg, it's necessary first to find out which part of post your spouse will be working on, then find the closest geographical area off post in that particular section. Commute time could turn from 20 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the above factors, so thoroughly research. Some popular neighborhoods off post are the Jack Britt area and Southern Pines. To see where military members recommend living and also view maps and school ratings, click here.
BAH AND COST OF LIVING
The median home cost in the Fayetteville area is $135, 000 making it a very attractive place to buy. The Southern Pines area is a favorite of military families even with the 40-minute commute but averages $268,000 to buy a home. For those considering using their VA loan, PCSgrades has local military spouses who are Realtors ready to assist you in your search!
FORT BRAGG AMENITIES
A large installation like Fort Bragg has many perks. There are two Commissaries, several PX's, the Iron Mike Conference Center, fourteen fitness centers, Army Community Services that offers classes and resilience training programs, and the U.S. Army Morale, Welfare, & Recreation (MWR) that organizes many fun events across post.
If being outdoors is your forte' Fort Bragg will be a perfect place for you. Points of interest across post include; McKellers Lodge, Tank Trail, Mott Lake, Smith Lake, Area J, and Flight Line Park.
FORT BRAGG WEATHER
Fort Bragg weather varies, but North Carolina does have four seasons. A mild climate sums up Fort Bragg pretty well as agriculture is booming in this area throughout three of the four seasons. From late December to early March is considered winter time with lows in the 20's and highs in the 60's. Mid-March through early Mid springtime with warm days, cool nights, and a multitude of rain. Late May through early September is summer time with highs sometimes reaching into the 100's and lows in the 60's. Mid-September through Mid-December is fall with temperatures varying from lows in the 50's to highs in the 70's.
- Downtown Fayetteville offers an array of restaurants, shopping, coffee shops, dessert cafes, and many family fun activities throughout the year.
- Southern Pines is the home to golf resorts, shopping, and the famous R. Riveter.
- Outdoor recreation-Cape Fear Trail, Raven Rock, Zipquest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure, Aloha Safari Zoo, and the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens
- Indoor recreation-Paraclete XP Indoor Skydiving, Airborne and Special Operations Museum, Triangle Rock Club, and Defy Fayetteville.
DAY TRIPS – PLACES TO VISIT WITHIN NORTH CAROLINA
- The Outer Banks
Fort Bragg, N.C. gets a bad reputation, but surprisingly offers a wonderful way of life. The people in the surrounding counties are super nice and hospitable. Patriotism is present around every corner. Agriculture is fruitful for three out of four seasons. Outdoor activities are numerous, and small businesses thrive and populate the area heavily. When you move to Fort Bragg, come with an open mind and give it a chance. Try to get out and explore the area and find your way around. You just might fall in love with it here.
This post sponsored by PCSgrades.
Yeah! You got orders to (insert foreign country overseas)! You can already picture your kids in the international school, speaking with cute little accents and wearing local garments. Adorbs. You've got your housing picked out, adventures planned and passport photos taken. You're ready for your epic move ... except for that 13 hour plane ride. Have you wrapped your head around that yet? Before you grab for a paper bag and start hyperventilating, use our travel hacks to help make the emotional turbulence you're experiencing a little lighter.
We've all said it: "We'll drive. It won't be that bad." We picture the adventure, the memories, the nostalgia of car trips when we were younger.
But if we're really being honest with ourselves, think back to those car trips. Someone was crying. Someone was puking. Someone was whining. That person very well may have been your poor mother. True story, my mom once got out and walked along the highway when all six of us kids wouldn't stop fighting. A long car trip can be daunting, but with our tips and tricks they don't need to be.
WE ALL HAVE OUR SHARE OF HORROR STORIES WHEN IT COMES TO MILITARY MOVING!
Name the most disgusting item erroneously packed by your movers… for me it was used coffee grounds and of course, trash. For others, I've heard everything from wet towels to dirty diapers. I've caught movers raiding my fridge, lounging on my mattress in my front yard, and throwing out items that they've broken. Raise your hand (or have a drink) if you ever had packers show up late (or not at all). Ever had packers get into a shouting match among themselves as they were packing your china? Or have you caught your movers throwing boxes down the stairs to the basement? That would be me!
With each military move, there are "lessons learned". For instance, I won't go into great detail but let's just say after watching one packer go directly from using the restroom back to packing my kitchen without washing his hands, we now use gigantic ziplock bags to "pre-pack" all my kitchen utensils. A packers' bare flesh has never again touched one of my kitchen utensils.
My family's last military move was by far the shortest, only 1½ miles up the road. We were moving from a rental to a home we purchased. It was by far the worst in terms of damage and overall angst. I think because we were only "moving up the road" the pack job left a lot to be desired. I found one box of dishes which had not one piece of wrapping paper! Instead two throw pillows from my family room were used as a buffer! Amazingly, nothing was broken! Go figure!
When I heard glass shatter in the moving truck, I asked one of the guys what shattered.
There are any number of reasons why in a given situation renting might be better than buying or vice versa. For military families, it might make more sense to buy at one duty station and then rent at the next. Up for consideration with each PCS is whether to buy or rent, to stay on-base or off. In making these decisions, there are numerous pros and cons to consider.
PROS TO BUYING
- Purchasing the right home can be a great financial investment that can grow in value over time.
- Tax deductions such as mortgage interest and property taxes can greatly reduce your overall income tax burden if you itemize.
- Being a homeowner can give you pride of ownership and a sense of stability, rare in the military life which can seem nomadic at times.
- A mortgage payment that is lower than your BAH can result in a boost to your savings.
- You can decorate however you want! Goodbye white walls! Hello, Color!
- Anyone can stay with you at any time. So it is not a problem when your Mom or sister comes for an extended stay during a deployment or following a PCS.
- You can do (almost) whatever you want….host a late night party, plant a garden, knock a wall down!
- There are no security or pet deposits when you buy a home.
- You have the opportunity to become a landlord when military orders arrive and you have to move. Your home can become an investment property, providing a source of income which can partially or totally offset your mortgage, taxes, and insurance payments.
While retired military Space A travel is a privilege, there are some retirees that do not have this privilege. There are different categories of retirees, some are eligible for Space A and some are not. But there are efforts to change the eligibility requirements.
For a retiree to be eligible for Space A travel they must possess a 'Blue' DD Form 2 (Military ID card). This includes those that are medically retired. Their dependents are also allowed to travel with them and must bring along their ID cards. All dependents should be enrolled in DEERS.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR RETIRED MILITARY SPACE A TRAVEL?
There are plenty of rumors out there saying that ALL retirees are eligible. This is not true. If you are 100% disabled and you only possess a DD Form 1173, or the new DD Form 2765 ID cards, you are not entitled to travel on Space A. Also, if you possess the brown ID card with DAVPRM (Disabled Veteran Permanent) in the bottom right, then you too are not entitled to retired military space a travel Space A travel privileges.
Dependents of retirees are not allowed to travel without the retiree. If the retiree dies, then the dependents no longer have Space A privileges.
If you are a member of the Guard or Reserves with a 'Red" DD Form 2 you can travel through CONUS (Continental United States), to, from, and between Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. Also, if you are active duty for more than 30 consecutive days, Guardsmen and Reservists may fly anywhere that Space A flies.
Dependents of the Guard and Reserves are not authorized to fly on Space A until the member reaches the age of 60. At that time, they will be in the same category as a regular retiree, Category 6. Retired Guardsmen and Reservists who have completed their 20 years but are not old enough to collect their retired pay are considered to be in a "gray area".
AN ACT OF CONGRESS
There have been attempts to change the eligibility of all of the above retirees and dependents.
The first Bill to be submitted to the House of Representatives was House Bill 4164 aka Space-Available Act of 2012. This bill sought to authorize the Secretary of Defense to establish a program to provide transportation on Department of Defense (DOD) aircraft on a space-available basis for (1) active duty and reserve members holding a valid Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card; (2) retired members who, but for not attaining age 60, would be eligible for military retired pay; (3) an un-remarried widow or widower of an active or reserve member; and (3) certain dependents of members described above. Allows the Secretary to establish an order of priority based on considerations of military needs and readiness.
This Bill was sent to the Subcommittee on Readiness in March of 2012 where it has sat with no action.
Earlier this year, a measure to establish a space-available transportation priority for veterans of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected, permanent disability rated as total was introduced in the house. That bill HR 936 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Readiness.
HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD
How can you help? Write your Congressman. Make your voice known.
The Gray Area Retirees Facebook group was created to talk about these problems and to try to get the changes implemented.
Space-A eligibility is sometimes confusing and false information is passed around often. Check out the resources in this article for any updates.
PCSgrades.com is a review platform for military and veteran families. Leave a review of your prior duty station and read the reviews of where you are PCSing to. Home is where the military sends us and together we can make a difference!
This post sponsored by PCSgrades.