For the past two duty stations we’ve been away from the fleet. In other words, we are NOT near a Marine Corps base. We are on the edges of the Marine Corps Empire, far from the normal luxuries and Marine Corps essentials we were accustomed to when we were at Camp Lejeune. It’s been a learning experience, it’s been a frustration, and it’s been interesting. If you are living, or going to live on the edge of the Empire, away from the fleet here are some of the things you may encounter.
Standards. Where are the Standards?
In the Marine Corps there’s a certain set of standards. Standards Marines are expected to uphold at all times. Other services have their own standards but they are not Marine standards. I’m not one for lots of rules and regulations, but if there are rules, I will certainly follow them. The biggest example we’ve noticed of this was the complete lack of enforcement for dress standards on base facilities such as the Exchange and Commissary. If you notice next time you enter one, you’ll see poster explaining what is and is not appropriate wear to enter this establishment. It includes things like No PT/Gym gear. Previously we were living in the civilian world for I&I duty, but we were technically attached to a Joint Base over 45 min away, now we are on an Army base, and as far as I can tell dress code is not enforced at all. This came as a shock to me, who was used to changing out of my spaghetti strap tank-top and flipflops just to go to the commissary. I felt like such a rebel wearing flipflops on base the first time.
Inter-service Paperwork is a PITA
Have you ever tried PCSing from a base that wasn’t your service, who wanted you to fill out paperwork that wasn’t your branch because that’s how they did it, no matter Orders said you do it another way? Yeah, it’s stressful. It made our last PCS very difficult as we basically had to convince people that no, we actually did have to do things the Marine/Navy way and not the Air Force or Army way, and here, use this document instead. If only there was some way everyone could use the same documents and processes for common events across services like PCSing, might make things easier for everyone.
Different On Base Communities are Different
On Base communities are different. Each base is different, and each service is different. They don’t always handle everything the same way, and it seems each branch has a certain personality that you get accustomed to. On the other hand it’s a really interesting experience to learn about the differences in branches first hand. From the acronyms or terms you use, to the differences in processes or the way various things are handled. The biggest takeaway from this is, don’t judge your new base community by your last base community. They are all different.Click To Tweet
Unique Duty Station Locations
When you leave the greater Empire, you find yourself in places most people in your service don’t get to go. Most Marines & families who get orders to the Pacific go to Japan, most who get orders on the east coast of the states go to Quantico or Lejuene – not the suburbs of Philadelphia. This is probably one of the biggest perks (or not, it depends on your views and experiences) of being away from the fleet: you get to go places you wouldn’t ordinarily go.
Good Luck Finding Uniform Parts
There are pretty much no Marine uniform essentials here. My poor husband is out of luck if he needs a new set of cammies, new PT gear, or anything more than new rank. It makes things really difficult if you find suddenly your uniform is stained, or damaged and you need it for an event by the end of the week. Ordering in new gear takes up to a month. It was a struggle to get my husband’s Blues squared away after his promotion in time for the ball. Fortunately the things he needed did get there in time, but it was close. Before we went to I&I we were warned of this, and DH went on a uniform shopping spree getting ALL THE THINGS! While he didn’t end up using everything they said he would need for I&I those extra things did come in handy for our current duty station. So be prepared!
Living away from the fleet is a mixed bag of the good and the bad. Overall it’s been a positive experience, but after 6 years both my husband and I both want to get back to the fleet.