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Things to Consider When Deciding Whether to Join The Navy

Quality of Life


When not a sea, the Navy has a fairly good quality of life program (family housing, on-base shopping and services, and recreation). Their exchange system (shopping) is considered by many military members to be the best among the services. They are, however, still trying to play catch up in the area of enlisted barracks. Not their fault -- they had a long way to go, when they decided to work on this project. It wasn't that long ago that all junior enlisted unmarried sailors, assigned to a ship, lived on the ship, even when that ship was in home port for months at a time. That mean't that a junor enlisted unmarried sailor would have all of a few dozen square feet to call their own (the area of their "rack" (bed). In order to rectify this, the Navy had to commit to spending multi-millions in building juniore enlisted barracks, just to house all those junior enlisted living on ships. In 2004, 24,000 junior sailors lived aboard ship. By July 2008, that number is now down to 9,000. The Navy has established an agressive program called "Home Port Ashore," dedicated to constructing commercial-like apartment complexes for unmarried junior sailors (rank of E-1 to E-3). They hope to have all junior unmarried sailors living in such complexes by 2016. Many junior sailors who currently live in Navy barracks, currently have a roommate, but when the project is complete, all junior sailors will have single rooms. The new "apartment complexes" feature single rooms with private bathrooms, with two Sailors sharing a common living room and kitchen.

At most bases, Sailors in the rank of E-4 and above, with at least four years of service (including those assigned to ships) can move off base and receive a monetary housing allowance, called BAH. They even continue to receive the BAH when the ship is deployed to sea (that way, they don't have to terminate their leases).

Like the other services, the Navy is 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 Navy program is called “ Public Private Ventures.” At most bases, married Sailors are given a choice of living in family housing, or living off base at a place of their choosing, with a monthly housing allowance.

Sailors 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/dormitories do not normally receive this allowance, but eat their meals for free in the on-base dining facilities (chow halls).

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