The Air Force knows people are our most important asset. As such, the Air Force has made quality-of-life issues around the base a top priority. In order for you to better understand life on an Air Force base, let's take a look at some of the facilities/activities:
One of the first things you will notice when entering a base are the Security Forces personnel at the entrance gate. Our well-trained security and police forces not only provide protection of Air Force resources, but also a secure environment for you and your family to work, live and play.
All large bases have hospitals and a dental clinic, and other bases have at least a clinic or dispensary. For isolated units, the Air Force contracts with civilian doctors and dentists for professional service. Your family has access to the medical facilities on base, and the TRICARE managed health-care system is designed to provide for their care, on and off base.
Most bases have educational facilities. College classrooms are common on Air Force bases. The base education office runs the Air Force education services program. Through this office, you can take courses related to your job or take graduate courses. Additionally, many overseas base community centers offer language and cultural orientation programs.
Many Air Force bases have youth activity centers, libraries and child-development centers that provide day-care services. Schools are always a first priority for the Air Force. Every base either provides schools for dependent children or is associated with nearby public schools.
You will find a variety of programs geared toward your children. After-school activities, community service organizations (Boy/Girl Scouts), youth centers and sports programs are just a few of the programs aimed at providing your child a safe environment to explore, mature and make friends.
The base commissary is the Air Force version of a supermarket where you can buy groceries and other household items. You save roughly 20-25% by shopping at the commissary for the same things you buy downtown.
The Base Exchange is the Air Force version of a department store. You save money by shopping at the BX, and just about anything you can think of can be bought there. These facilities can range from well-equipped convenience stores to major department stores or even shopping malls selling everything from food to appliances, clothes and hardware and gas for your car.
These centers are staffed by professionals and are available to provide assistance for a wide variety of your personal needs. Services might range from financial management to smoking cessation classes, from parenting classes to family counseling, from career enhancement to queries on new bases.
Most bases have diverse recreational facilities: auto hobby shop, movie theater, library, fitness center, bowling lanes, arts and crafts center, tennis courts, athletic fields, picnic areas and other facilities. Many bases have golf courses, aero clubs, riding clubs and shooting ranges. Some bases even have their own marina. Many also provide excellent facilities for hobby and craft pursuits such as woodworking, do-it-yourself auto repair, computer and personal electronics, music, textiles, and fine arts.
Imagine living an hour from London or Venice. Imagine your base owns a beach on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Imagine you live a short ride from Mount McKinley, Mount Rushmore or the beaches of Hawaii. Well, many of our Air Force bases are situated in some of the most beautiful and scenic areas of our country, as well as in exotic places around the world. Additionally, each base’s community center offers low-cost tours and trips to many of these places.
Not sure where to go for vacation? Maybe you should look into some of the Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRCs). You can spend time skiing the Alps, enjoying Cape Cod, sunning on the beaches of Hawaii or chatting with Mickey Mouse. One of the hidden benefits you receive as an Armed Forces member is access to the AFRCs around the world. These facilities are situated in some of the most sought-after vacation locations and provide you with discounted lodging and reduce-price tickets to the local sights and attractions.
Your fitness is important to the Air Force, so each base has at least one fitness center/gym. Whether it is free weights or aerobic bikes, basketball or racquetball, you will find a wide variety of fitness equipment and facilities at an Air Force base. And if you like team sports and competition, you will be interested in the many intramural and varsity sports programs on base. Many bases also have golf courses, tennis courts, athletic fields, riding clubs and shooting ranges.
The Officers Club usually serves the dual function of being a social club and a meeting location. Besides featuring a dining room, which usually serves at least lunch and dinner daily, the club carries out a continuing program of parties, dinners and other entertainment. Many even have swimming pools and tennis courts.
Religious activities on base are much like those in the civilian community. In the base chapel, chaplains of different faiths conduct services and ceremonies according to their faith or denomination. Air Force members are free to attend (or not attend) religious services of their choice, either on base or off. Most bases provide chapel services for people of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths. If your religion is not represented in the chapel, the Air Force will often help locate off-base resources to help you practice your religion of choice.
Air Force members and their families often provide outreach assistance to the local communities, in order to return some of the goodwill local communities provide to the Air Force bases. This can range from food drives and cleanups to flood and natural disaster protection/cleanup.
Air Force firefighters and disaster-preparedness teams provide both quick-reaction protection of base resources and education for all of the base populace.