Things to Consider When Choosing to Join the Army

Quality of Life

The Army has made great strides in their quality of life programs (barracks, family housing, on-base shopping and services, and recreation) since 9/11, although they still have a long way to go. While Soldiers at several bases are still living in barracks which were built during World War II and the Korean War, the Army is working on building new barracks buildings. The new barracks, called "1 +1," provide each soldier with a private bedroom. Two junior enlisted Soldiers share a common kitchenette and bath in a two-bedroom suite, hence the "1+1" label.

Senior enlisted Soldiers have a private suite including a separate furnished living room, under the new design. All Soldiers -- Army-wide -- are expected to be housed in the new barracks design by the year 2012. Dozens of projects for new 1+1 barracks and renovation of existing barracks, exceeding $1 billion, are currently in design or under construction. Unmarried Soldiers in the rank of E-6 and above are usually allowed to live off base, and receive a monetary housing allowance, called BAH. At some bases, this priviledge is extended to those in the rank of E-5.

Like the other services, the Army is agressively converting existing on-base family housing to "military privatized housing." Under this concept, civilian companies are encouraged to construct, maintain, and manage military-only housing complexes on and close to military bases. The Army program is called “Residential Community Initiative.” Currently, the Army RCI program is comprised of 45 installations (combined into 35 projects); over 88,000 homes - 99% of Army's family housing inventory in the U.S. To date, 35 installations (77,000 homes) have been privatized, 10 more (11,000 homes) are in solicitation or under development.

At most bases, married Soldiers are given a choice of living in family housing, or living off base at a place of their choosing, with a monthly housing allowance.

Soldiers who are authorized to live off base at government expense, and those who live in family housing receive a monthly food allowance, called BAS. Those who live in the barracks do not normally receive this allowance, but eat their meals for free in the on-base dining facilities (chow halls).

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