Now that I’ve lived at Fort Hood for almost two years, I feel qualified to list the top five best and worst things about this post. (Note to Reader: Keep in mind that some of you will disagree, some might be offended by my choices, and others will say I left something crucial off the list. I would love to hear your feedback about this, and what YOU would include in this list.)
With no further ado, here goes, starting with the negatives first:
1) It’s big. Having come from Carlisle Barracks, Penn., Fort Hood was a bit of a shock to my system. I was used to walking to the PX, the commissary, the gym and just about everywhere else there. That all changed here though, as Fort Hood is definitely a driving post. The other thing about its size is getting things done simply takes longer. There are long lines in many offices, as well as more difficulty getting medical appointments and other routine errands accomplished. This is why I take a book everywhere I go on post. (I highly recommend bringing “War and Peace” when picking up prescriptions at any of the pharmacies).
2) The weather. Extremes are the norm here when it comes to weather. Yes, summers are wicked hot but then, this past winter was surprisingly cold. When it’s windy here, it’s gale-force winds. When it rains, there is often hail or thunder and lightning. Now that it’s already steamy out, I find that if I’m not walking the dog by 8 a.m., it’s too late. (Yes, I see hearty souls out jogging at 2 p.m. but can’t speak for their sanity…)
3) It’s not very pretty. When I first saw this post, I was depressed by the overall scenario. The buildings appeared uniformly beige and utilitarian-looking (with some exceptions,) the grass was dry and burnt and there were very few trees. My eyes yearned for more greenery, which might explain why we chose to live in an older home with lots of towering trees and shade. I have since gotten used to the way Fort Hood looks but still wish it were more attractive.
4) There is too much litter. I realize a post that is home to 50,000 soldiers plus their family members, visitors and retirees is probably not going to be pristine but the amount of trash I find on walks with my dog is shameful. I am constantly picking up Styrofoam coffee cups, plastic water bottles, fast food bags and plenty more. There are garbage cans all over this post--why is it so hard for people to use them?
5) They make you buy cowboy boots. This one is courtesy of my husband. He is a Virginia boy and had never owned a pair of cowboy boots in his life, nor did he intend to. Within a few months of taking command, his command sergeant major cleverly convinced him to invest in a pair of boots (which are worn at numerous “Texas Casual” events here at The Great Place). He was urged to purchase a hat, too, but refused. The funny thing is, he really likes those boots now and looks for reasons to wear them.
1) It’s big. OK, so big can be a problem but it can also be a good thing. Fort Hood’s size ensures there is no lack of activities to choose from. The folks at MWR are always offering something fun to do on the weekends and having two commissaries means you don’t have to go off-post to do your grocery shopping. There is an excellent library here, a myriad of gyms offering exercise classes and good equipment, including state-of-the-art climbing walls. The PX has a huge selection of items, and as for gas stations and shoppettes, just throw a rock and you’ll hit one for sure.
2) The people. As the old saying goes, the people truly ARE why this is considered “The Great Place.” At first I didn’t get it but now I see why. I have met a ton of people since arriving two years ago and most are wonderful. Off- post, I can honestly say that this is the most supportive, pro-military community I’ve ever encountered. Killeen, Copperas Cove, Belton, Temple, Lampasas and Waco, (among others) all go out of their way to tell and show us how much they appreciate our service. Not all military communities do this or to nearly this extent.
3) The weather. So I just described why I hate the weather here. Now allow me to explain why I love it. Having spent a good number of years in Germany, (and way before that, Washington State), I know I’m a candidate for “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” That is, when the sun doesn’t make an appearance for a week or two, I start to weep for no apparent reason. That never happens here. Summers are incredibly hot but also incredibly “summery,” and that can be nice. Winters (except for the last one), tend to be mild and still sunny. I like that.
4) The history/tradition. Fort Hood has a proud military tradition and a long one. It is the home of the First Cavalry Division and many other units steeped in rich history. Also, training here is a top priority. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been on a post that trains more seriously or more efficiently.
5) The Texas terrain. Once you leave post and the closer you get to the Hill Country, the more scenic it is. The gently rolling hills, scrub oaks, green and yellow meadows sprinkled with wildflowers, not to mention the creeks and other bodies of water—all make it beautiful in a way that is unique to Texas. We recently spent an evening fishing in Salado Creek in Belton and felt like we had driven hundreds of miles instead of 20 minutes.