With each Permanent Change of Station, a family is uprooted from its network including schools, volunteer opportunities and friends. One military family has found their transitions less painful, though, with the help of military housing.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Duran Sword and his wife of 14 years, Angela, have lived in Lincoln Military Housing neighborhoods at several duty stations — Camp Lejeune, N.C., Twentynine Palms, Calif., and now Hampton Roads, Va. — and would not have it any other way.
“It’s usually convenient,” Duran Sword said. “I usually work on the installation or right near it. Where I work, where the kids go to school, and where we live is all within a three mile radius.”
Angela Sword adds that when they move into a new neighborhood, playgrounds, clubhouses, numerous community events, and private social network groups provide a common meeting ground to connect with people. The Swords do not have the sense of loneliness sometimes associated with military families.
“They have a great community,” Angela Sword said. “We all have the same thing in common when we move into base housing: We have a spouse that is in the military and some of us have children. Whether it’s new people moving in or a changeover, everybody seems to be really friendly.”
The benefits of living in base housing for the Swords start with security — having their two children be able to ride bikes and walk to the school bus stop without worry because of ongoing patrols — but also for the ease of access to activities and events. The couple says that they take advantage of every community event that is offered, whether it be for their children, their whole family or them as a couple.
“What’s awesome is that they incorporate everything in the area,” Angela Sword said. “It’s not like they stick to putting up bounce houses and having a little community playtime in the park. They get residents out into the city and show them different things that are in the area.”
With all the events being free to residents, the Sword family has been able to experience things they never otherwise would have including going to American Hockey League and Minor League Baseball games, visiting an aquarium, and having date nights in town.
“At Twentynine Palms, Lincoln would have their events in the middle of the base, and the officer and the enlisted [families] would meet at a designated area for the event. They had an Easter egg hunt for the kids. They brought in snow for the kids in the wintertime. They brought in reindeer and a Santa that gave out gifts,” Angela Sword said.
She adds that the events are catered to everyone, whether they have children or not, or simply want to network with other spouses. Volunteering is also a major aspect of the Swords’ lives, which is another aspect of Lincoln’s events that provide the community with opportunities to connect.
“Lincoln puts on a program every month,” Duran Sword said. “They have an event, or they have something for neighborhood to do. They try to build camaraderie among the neighbors. So we take advantage of those events.”
Plus, the amount of activities to do aside from events keep them busy, like going to the pool during summer months to playing video games at the community center. And then there are the added benefits of included utilities, basic lawn care, and on-staff maintenance crews should anything go awry.
“You don’t have to worry when something breaks. You can call the maintenance line, and the guy is there either that night if it’s an emergency or the next day. If not, they hire a company out in town to fix it,” he said.
Duran Sword remembers one time when the base-wide power went out for an extended period of time, and how responsive Lincoln was to making sure all residents were being taken care of. The company provided them with generators, coolers, ice, charging stations, and round-the-clock meals, at no cost to them.
“Lincoln is always there, whether it’s the events, the house, or whatever,” he added.
The Sword family faces an international move where Lincoln Military Housing is not available, and they are admittedly sad to leave the organization behind. It has brought them close to other families, to the communities they’ve moved to, and to the staff members that become friends to them.
“When you move, it’s hard saying goodbye to them because you formed a relationship with them, you build trust with them, and you know if you have an issue you can go to them,” Angela Sword made sure to add. “They are looking out for your best interests. They grow to love your family; you grow to love them.”
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