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If You’re PCSing to Redstone Arsenal: A Heads Up About Housing, FRG, and the Area in General
I know from experience that often the first thing a military member and his or her spouse do after receiving notification of PCSing to a new duty station is to get on Google and begin researching as much about the installation and surrounding communities as possible. 

 

If you recently received orders to Restone Arsenal, congratulations! Many will tell you that this is the duty station they never want to leave.

Photo by Sparrow Digital Media and used with permission | Instagram | Facebook

 

PCSing to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama

Though our family didn’t move to the north Alabama area on orders (we moved here during the ETS process), I did reach out to a handful of active-duty families to get their takes on housing, FRG options, general community camaraderie, and much more. I hope this is not only super helpful information but also sets your mind at ease that the Restone Arsenal area is nothing like the stereotypes you may have about our state if you’ve never visited. It’s pretty stinkin’ great here, and I feel fairly confident you’ll think so as well. 

 

About On-Post Housing

Donna B.: “From what I can tell, the on-post housing is smaller, older, and there is not a lot available. 
 
Kaci M.: “From what we can tell from friends who live on post, the houses are easy to get into and the neighborhoods are safe and quiet.”
 

About Living Off Post

Donna B.: “We knew that we wanted Madison City Schools, but the rental market was really high. We have 3 kiddos, so a house with enough bedrooms in MCS was going to be $500-700/mo higher than senior officer BAH. We ended up buying a house and are so happy we did!”

Lauren O.: “While we have lived on many Army posts, we never considered living in on-post housing at Redstone because we have school-aged children and off-post had so many better options for our family. Madison had a reputation for the best schools and a wonderful community. It was a no-brainer to choose to live in Madison!”

Brooke S.: “There was limited on-post housing available for us, and none for large families.  We’ve lived on-post before: Leavenworth (two times), but typically we live in the surrounding community. Schools were the #1 priority for us, which brought us to Madison City (and purchasing a house over a FaceTime with our agent).  It was crazy, but we are so glad we did that!”

 

About the PX, Commissary, and MWR

Donna B.: “They’re very small and we really don’t use them. We’ve been twice and it feels like a waste of time. This is a small installation, though, with a lot of civilian employees. Plus, there is so much available in town, we don’t miss it at all. Families who are accustomed to the savings in those stores may be in for a bit of a shock.” 
 
Kaci M.: “We came to Redstone from Fort Hood, so any Commissary will be smaller in comparison. Overall, all of the options on-post are not bad, but not the same as a larger installation. I will note that the Information, Tickets, and Reservations Office (where you go to buy Disney and Universal) has been severely limited every time we go. So limited that we have had to seek tickets at other military installations.”
 
Brooke S.: “On-post options are ehh. It’s really hard to compare because there is such a small number of Active Duty Soldiers on Redstone, but places like Leavenworth and Bragg have much stronger ACS/FR, commissary, and MWR services. The commissary really needs some updating. We’ve never been to a commissary where we were told that Active Duty Soldiers couldn’t come in between certain hours because of Retirees! First time ever that has happened to us.”
 

Fox Army Health Center

Brooke S.: “Fox Army Health Center is super small but gives huge priority to Active Duty military and their families (I’m talking “roll out the red carpet” in the pharmacy line; you pull a ticket and don’t sit!)”
 

In-Processing and I.D. Cards

Brooke S.: “One-Stop Support Center was really great for in-processing, and the ID card office is superb.”

Camaraderie & FRG

Brooke S.: “There isn’t FRG here, and that has really been the thing that’s been hard to get used to. No coffees or things of that nature. It’s just very civilian.  Not bad, just different. It’s nice to mix in with the regular community on such a daily basis. Two of our boys, win 13-year-olds, are part of the JS2S club at school that is closely tied to all MCEC events and activities. They also regularly give tours at Discovery Middle School to new students who arrive and give them the scoop for the school day, etc.”

Donna B.: “It is very different here than other Army posts. Perhaps it is because there are so many civilians, perhaps covid has played a role, but I don’t really see/feel the camaraderie that exists elsewhere. We were very lucky to already know a friend’s family from a previous duty station and several of my husband’s friends that PCSed here at the same time. We take care of one another, but without them, I’m not sure I would have any Army friends. 

Megan F.: “There is not as much FRG involvement here, but that may be due to the fact that there is such a small number of military personnel working here, as well as the pandemic making it hard to get together. I feel like most of the spouses already know one another because we were all at TPS at one time (a lot of active duty military here are test pilots). There is a Facebook group for TPS spouses that really helped me get connected with many of the families that were already here and helped a lot in finding housing, schools, churches, etc.”

Lauren O.: “I attended PWOC a few times since I had been involved at other posts but wasn’t able to continue attending as I started working at Asbury Weekday. The PWOC at Redstone seemed to have a wonderful community of women!

I have been involved in many FRGs over the years but Redstone doesn’t have much of an FRG presence. My husband, a test pilot worked at AFTD. I worked hard to contact the families and spouses and connect people. As new test pilots moved to the area every 6 months after Test Pilot school, I would help plug their wives into the community!

While I was unable to attend the Spouse’s club at Redstone but a fellow Army wife and friend was very involved and enjoys her time with club.”

 

About Living in the North Alabama Area

Kaci M.: “We love the community and the many options the greater community offers for family fun. The involvement of people within the community, especially Madison, is truly wonderful. This is especially evident in the sports leagues. Our short time in T Ball has been wonderful. All of the conveniences of a larger city are also here, which makes life wonderful for a military family. The airport is ten miles from my house, along with an up-and-coming Trader Joe’s and Homegoods. What more could you want?”

 
Donna B.: “We like Madison because it feels more like home than other places. I love that Huntsville is so close. We can enjoy a more small town, laid back lifestyle with excellent schools, but are also close to theaters, museums, etc. The boys are really looking forward to taking in our first Trash Pandas game.”
 
Brooke S.: “We love the area so much!  Being stationed here really has afforded us so much family time! My husband has been deployed four times, so this assignment has really been so wonderful for family time and a much slower tempo than before. He’s been able to be a part of t-ball and baseball practices and it’s just really nice. We also love the proximity Madison/Huntsville is to other areas like Atlanta, Nashville, etc. There is so much to do here! It’s just fantastic.”

 

Lauren O.: “We love Madison! It was a wonderful 3 years for our family and we would love to be stationed there again one day!

The Huntsville area has so many great options not only for families but for young soldiers and couples as well. It is up and coming, hip areas, filled with great outdoor activities, the arts, and much more.  It has definitely been one of our favorite spots to be stationed at!”

Megan F.: “We really love the Huntsville area! I love that you can walk around downtown, go to restaurants, bars, parks, and I’ve never felt like I was in danger or in a bad area.  There are so many museums and activities for the kids, loads of trails to go hiking/walking/biking. I’m a huge fan of the mountains, so I love that I can just run over to Monte Sano park and go hiking.  We are also pretty close to so many big cities (Birmingham, Nashville, Atlanta, Chattanooga) that have a lot to offer. So many cool day trips to small towns and little gems all over northern Alabama.”

 

Other Things to Note 

Donna B.: “I don’t think I was fully prepared for the weather here. I knew tornadoes were a possibility, but I really didn’t expect such severe weather. I guess I didn’t really do my due diligence in that area. I wish that I had made a storm shelter a bit higher on my priority list. I would definitely make it a point to mention that to any friends coming to the area.”
 
Megan F.: “Know what area you want to live in. Madison is great, but it is a farther drive to get over to the mountainous area. I’ve heard great things about the Hampton Cove/Owens Cross Roads areas.  If you are into hiking/mountain biking/trail running, you might want to be closer to this area.”
 
Kaci M.: “You are about to move to a community that is not predominantly military but is incredibly welcoming to the military.”
 
Brooke S.: “The Links at Redstone is amazing! Amazing, amazing! My husband got the family golf membership and the boys play on the regular there with him for very reduced prices.”

 

Lauren O.: “Our family loved the bowling alley and even hosted one of my daughter’s birthday parties there in the private bowling room. It was wonderful!

My girls’ school, Columbia Elementary, always had special events for military families and children of active-duty soldiers. Whether it was Veteran’s Day, a Military families breakfast, or April Month of the Military Child, they made an extra effort to show support for the military. The whole community was a very welcoming one!”

 

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