Welcome to Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault.). Fort Campbell has the 5th largest military population in the Army. With about 30,000 active duty soldiers plus their families stationed here, the area has a lot to offer a military family. Read below to get a feel for your new duty station and visit PCSgrades.com for reviews on housing, REALTORS, and more!
WHERE IS FORT CAMPBELL
Fort Campbell, Kentucky is on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. Clarksville, TN, Oak Grove, KY and Hopkinsville, KY are the cities that make up the off-post Fort Campbell area. Here you will find a thriving southern military town just an hour from Nashville, TN.
FORT CAMBELL HOUSING
The Fort Campbell area has a lot of options for housing. You can stay on post in one of the many neighborhoods. You can also choose to live on the Tennessee side in Clarksville, Woodlawn or closer to Nashville. In Kentucky, you can live in Oak Grove or Hopkinsville or further into the state. Read reviews and see photos for both on and off base housing at PCSgrades.com.
ON POST AMENITIES
On post you have several pools, two splash parks, two Starbucks, gyms, MWR, ACS and many different events for kids like an Easter Egg hunt and Trick or Treating. There is a big PX with a small mall and food court. There are also a variety of fast food places on post separate from the food court. You can also find a golf course, a bowling alley, a library and a movie theater. BACH or Blanchfield is the hospital on post and provides a lot of services to the military community.
On-post housing is privatized and neighborhoods are based on rank. E-1-E5, E6-E8, CW1-O3, and CW3-O5. The homes are between 2-5 bedrooms. The neighborhoods have playgrounds and areas to walk. Most of the neighborhoods are close to the PX and Commissary and allow easy access to a lot of what the post has to offer. There are four elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. There are also many CDC locations for your child care needs.
There are a variety of neighborhoods to choose from if you would like to live off-post. Options in Tennessee include Clarksville, Woodlawn, Adams or closer to Nashville. You can also choose to live in Kentucky in Oak Grove or Hopkinsville. Since there are a lot of different areas to choose from, you should be able to find the right place to live no matter what you are looking for. Thinking about buying or renting? Find your A-graded REALTOR at PCSgrades.com and let your house hunt begin!
Clarksville is the main urban center on the Tennessee side of Fort Campbell. The population is about 142,000 and is the 5th largest city in the state situated in Montgomery County and home to Austin Peay State University. A lot of military families also live off of Tiny Town and what is called the Exit 1 area. This will put you about 5-15 minutes from post. There is a lot of traffic heading to post from this area during certain times of day. There are many different neighborhoods to choose from that will give you a great off-post living experience while still being close enough to take advantage of what Fort Campbell has to offer on a regular basis.
If you would like to be a little bit further away from post and have a little bit more land, Sango or Exit 11 would be a good option. Housing is a little bit more expensive, and you will be about 30-45 minutes from post but living in Sango can be a good choice. Living there means you are a little closer to Nashville and will be a little further removed from the main military areas of Clarksville. There is also Woodlawn, TN, with about 4,400 people, is an unincorporated part of Montgomery County. This will put you about 15-35 minutes from post and is more rural than Clarksville. If you are looking for a lot of land, Woodlawn would be a good choice.
Fort Campbell's main gates are located off of Fort Campbell Blvd and a lot of military choose to live off or near this road. There are quite a few apartments to choose from and living in this area will put you 5-10 minutes from post. Keep in mind that during high traffic times of day you might be waiting longer in traffic to get home
Oak Grove, Kentucky, with about 7,500 people is a part of Christian County, Kentucky. If you choose to live in Oak Grove, you can be closer to post, and there are many single family homes to choose from. Oak Grove is a little more rural than Clarksville and is its own city. Hopkinsville, Kentucky, with a population of about 32,000 is also in Christian County, Kentucky. Living here will put you about 20-30 minutes from post. Hopkinsville does have a community college and many stores and restaurants to choose from. You can probably find more land in the Hopkinsville area and can be a great choice to live for a lot of people.
Fort Campbell experiences all four seasons. Fall at Ft.Campbell brings cooler weather and lots of great colors. Winter can bring cold mornings and snowy days. Off-post schools will close for any amount of snow and will usually do so for at least a week sometime in January or February. On-post schools do not close as often, but they do have snow days as well. Spring is a nice relief from the cold but can also bring storms and tornadoes. Summer can be hot and humid, and by August the bugs will be loud and make their presence known.
This area is known for interesting weather, so if you like to track what is going on, you will be in for a treat. It might be 60 degrees with rain and then 85 degrees with sun the very next day.
CULTURE AND CUSTOMS
The population at Fort Campbell area is a mixture of people from the military, former military, and civilians. Many residents not currently serving are veterans or were raised by a parent who served. People tend to like to stay in the area after they get out of the Army as there is a lot to offer.
Although Clarksville is in the south, people living there are from all of the US and the world because of the military. Your neighbors both on and off post could be from all over the country but now call the Fort Campbell area home.
BBQ, fried chicken, hush puppies oh my! The regional fare is southern and savory, consisting of hearty dishes such as biscuits and gravy, corn bread, and Burgoo, a hearty stew made of meat and veggies.
If we are talking about Tennessee and Kentucky – we should mention the whiskey. Tennessee is famous for Jack Daniels and Kentucky has the whole category of bourban whiskey owned, the general area around Clarksville and Nashville is home to multiple craft distilleries, most offering tours, tastings, and the like.
There are many different things to do both on and off post at Fort Campbell. Clarksville has many events throughout the year such as Movies at the Park, Christmas on the Cumberland and Riverfest twice a year. There are city pools, a library and a variety of parks to explore.
About an hour away is Nashville, known as "The Home of Country Music", Nashville has a thriving music scene, offering much more than just country. Like any growing city, Nashville has its fair share of art galleries to visit and delicious restaurants at which to dine. This city offers the perfect day trip to explore all it has to offer and soak in Americana culture. For the kiddos it also has a zoo and an Adventure Discovery Museum.
Driving a little further out you can go to a variety of cities and locations. Here are some of the places people stationed at Fort Campbell like to go:
The Land Between the Lakes: About an hour
St. Louis, MO : 4 hours
Atlanta, GA: 4 hours
Gatlinburg, TN: 4 hours
Huntsville, AL: 4 hours
Indianapolis, IN 4 hours
Oak Grove is smaller than Clarksville but does have its charm. They have a festival every May as well as a Butterfly Festival in the fall. If you travel a little further north, you will hit the city of Hopkinsville. Here you can find some of the regular shopping and restaurants you are used to but on a smaller scale than Clarksville has.
If you head to Hopkinsville, you will find Tiebreaker, a smaller water park that is great for kids of all ages and a lot of fun in the summer.
This post was 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.