If you could be transported instantly to one of the family housing fitness centers at Ft. Campbell, bypassing the sentries at the security gates, the Cobra attack helicopters on display, and the memorials dedicated to the Screaming Eagles who paid the ultimate price, you might have a hard time figuring out where you were.
You would see people dressed in workout gear on well-maintained commercial fitness equipment. You’d see toddlers playing in a supervised area within view of their parents running on a treadmill or using a stepper. And there, a few steps from the fitness center—a Starbucks! It would seem so familiar to you—but not what you’d expect on an army base.
These centers serve the soldier families living at Ft. Campbell. The neighborhoods are run byFt. Campbell Family Housing, a private contractor with a 50-year lease on the buildings and property. Of four community centers planned for Ft. Campbell, two are built and operational and two more are under construction, to be opened in Late Summer 2010. Each community center serves approximately 1000 households. In all, Ft. Campbell Family Housing houses 16,790 family members, including the soldiers.
Debra Cash, director of On Post Family Housing at Ft. Campbell, talked with Dane Burks & Co. about the nature of their service and the facilities they provide.
“These families have loved ones serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, in Europe, and even in places we aren’t allowed to know about, and we want them to feel good about being there,” she says. She says the soldier families’ needs are just like other families, and they try to make daily life as normal as possible for them.
“We try to make it so all the families have to worry about is whether their soldier is coming home safe.”
The neighborhoods are within the protected perimeter of Ft. Campbell. “We don’t like to use the term ‘safe and secure,’ because no place can guarantee that, but we refer to our neighborhoods as ‘gated communities,’ because that is the closest comparison to what these are like.”
They want families to feel at home. Because Debra and most of the people who work for her have been in military families or served in the military themselves, they understand the struggles of the military families. They have lived in Army-run housing. They have learned what works as well as what can be improved.