By Julie Provost, National Guard Spouse

When you live on post/base, you have easy access to so many different amenities to keep you connected to the military lifestyle. If you live off post/base, you are little further removed from the military experience. Some people love this, yet others, while enjoy living off, want to stay connected to their military installations. The good news is that there are ways for staying connected.

Staying Connected to your Duty Station

Find regular groups and meetings to attend

There are quite a few regular groups and meetings going on at a military installation. You can join the spouse club or go to a Bible study such as PWOC or CWOC, find a playgroup through the YMCA, or attend a MOPS group. When you go to these groups or meetings, you are staying connected not only to the post/base but to the people who go to them.

Visit playgrounds with your kids

Most military installations should have quite a few playgrounds and parks to take your kids to. Go explore and visit new ones. Take your kids often, and soon some will become their favorites. Then you can always go back to those playgrounds and connect to the post or base in a real and tangible way. Playgrounds are also a nice way to meet other parents and find friends for your kids.

Have your kids play sports on post/base

If your kids like to play sports, sign them up for one on post/base. This is a easy way to connect with others living there and have the chance to enjoy a team sport in a military family setting. You can also volunteer to become even more involved. If your child is not into sports, you can look for music and art opportunities.

Shop at the Commissary or the Exchange on a regular basis

While there are probably plenty of off post/base options to get your groceries and household products, shopping at your duty station will help with staying connected to the installation. Not only that but shopping at the Commissary can typically save you money, and you can often find good deals at the Exchange. There is also zero tax shopping at the Exchange, so this can save you a lot of money on big-ticket items.

Attend FRG meetings and Unit/Company events

FRG meetings can be the perfect way to get to know other spouses in your service member’s Company. These are the spouses that will be going through what you will be too, whether that is a deployment or another type of training. Going to Unit events will allow you to get to know more about what your spouse does and the people they work with.

Make friends with people who live on post

If you can make friends with people who live on post/base, you will probably be invited to their homes. This can also be a way to feel more connected. You can get together with other spouses, get to know the neighborhoods, and figure out more about the installation as a whole.

Go exploring

Sometimes you just need to drive to post/base and explore. See if there are any museums or places to check out that might be interesting. Driving around is the perfect way to figure out where things are and feel more apart of the post/base. This will also make finding a certain place a little easier in the future. If your post/base is small enough to do so, you can take a walk to see things on foot.

Go to events

From Easter egg hunts to a Fourth of July concert, your post/base has different events going on during the year. Try to attend those and see how your current duty station celebrates. This is also a way to connect with your military community and feel a bit closer to the people that are also stationed there.

Feeling connected to where you are stationed can make your experience at your duty station even better. Whether you are new to the installation or have been there for a while, getting out there and trying to get to know the area is a must. You don’t have to feel disconnected just because you don’t live on post/base.

To explore housing both on and off base, visit PCSgrades.com. Read reviews for base housing, neighborhoods, REALTORS®, and more.

PCSgrades Author: Julie Provost is a freelance blogger with over 20,000 page views a month on her blog Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life. She enjoys life in Tennessee with her husband, a National Guard soldier and their three boys. Julie enjoys blogging, reading, photography and a good cup of coffee. You can follow her on Twitter @SoldiersWifeCL.