I previously told you about my CHU, so now let me tell you about my housing community and the base. There are multiple housing areas on base, I don’t know exactly how many or how big they are. The base has over 25,000 people, so obviously there is enough housing for at least that many people. Within the housing communities, the CHUs are organized into pods. There is nothing special about a pod, it is just a way of organizing the CHUs. For example, I live in B-32. Our housing community has a town square area. Within that area is our housing office, chapel, BX (a small store), gym, recreation center, drop off laundry service, do-it-yourself laundromat, barber shop, Subway, cyber café, coffee shop, library, and muscle therapy (aka, massage). The bigger places, such as the gym and chapel, are semi-permanent facilities. Some of the other facilities, such as the Cyber Café and Subway, are in trailers. The gym has everything you could want; there are two rooms full of aerobics machines, a room full of weight machines, a room of free weights, and a general-purpose fitness room, which is where my CrossFit class is. Outside the gym are three basketball courts and two sand volleyball courts. The rec center has pool tables, two large-screen TVs for watching movies, a video game area with multiple consoles, and tables where they regularly host card tournaments. I haven’t gone to muscle therapy yet, although I thought about it after straining my neck during CrossFit. Other than a dining facility, you could easily spend all your free time in the housing community.
The base itself is quite large. There are two other gyms similar to ours. There is also an outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool with a 10-m platform, an indoor swimming pool, and a stadium. Apparently this base was used for training by the Iraqi Olympics team. There are two other BXs, both bigger than the one in my housing community, and rec centers. Each BX has a food court area (Pizza Hut, BK, etc.) and additional specialty stores such as an electronics store and a gift store. There are at least four dining facilities. I’m not sure of the exact number because there are four official DFACs, but I know of other chow halls on base too. There is a movie theater that seats several hundred people and shows first-run movies for free. I have seen “Star Trek,” “Terminator,” and “Night at the Museum 2” since I have been here. The food at the Turkish restaurant on base is quite good and a nice alternative to the DFACs, although it is hard to beat free food and plenty of it. An Iraqi bazaar where merchants from the local area can sell their wares just opened today. Not only does that benefit us, it helps the locals get a business started.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a hospital on base that does amazing things for anyone who needs it. I was at a brief yesterday where two military doctors, one AF and one Army, talked about two locals they treated for gunshot wounds to the face. The doctors showed us x-rays of the damage the bullets caused (basically one side of each man’s face was destroyed), pictures of the surgeries (definitely not for people with queasy stomachs), and then after pictures of the reconstructive surgery. Wow! I hate to think what life would have been like for those two men if our doctors had not been here. There are stories like that from the hospital on a regular basis.
The bottom line is we are well taken care of here, from security to our health to our mental well-being. All of those things enable execution of the various missions on the base, whether it is flying, moving equipment and people, or anything else. The US military, especially the Air Force, learned that if you take care of the people, the job gets done. That is especially true when deployed overseas. All of these services make it easier to take of everything from the basics, such as eating, to recharging your batteries so you can work your next shift. If you are bored here, it is your own fault.