Each month we will ask one lucky AWN follower to be our resident expert on the post where he/she lives. If you want to be part of our PWTM segment please let us know by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or me personally at email@example.com. Don’t forget to visit our Army Installations page where you can provide feedback and comments on previous PWTM postings at http://www.armywifenetwork.com/?page_id=44.
1. Your Name: Tara Burkholder
2. Experience in Military: My husband has been in the Army for almost 6 yrs.
3. Your Home State: The great state of Texas!!
4. Other Posts you have lived: Ft. Benning, Georgia & Ft. Sam Houston, Texas
1. Post Name: Ft. Sam Houston (one third of Joint Base San Antonio, which is made up of FSH, Lackland AFB and Randolph AFB)
2. Post Location: Beautiful San Antonio, Texas
Major Units/What Post is “known for”: US Army Medical Command, US Army Installation Management Command, US Army South Headquarters, Brooke Army Medical Center/San Antonio Military Medical Center (the largest inpatient medical facility in the Department of Defense)
3. Name of Surrounding Cities: San Antonio, Texas
4. Closest MAJOR City: San Antonio, Texas…really. FSH is right smack dab in the middle of San Antonio. You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful location for a post!
5. How long have you been there? 2 and a half years
6. What is housing like – on post/off post? (tell us about rental conditions, buying/selling, privatized or DoD housing – interesting policies etc) On post, housing is privatized, similar to posts across the nation. The company, Lincoln Military Housing, offers 925 homes within 8 villages around post. A large number of the homes have been renovated/rebuilt and look very nice. There are also a number of older, historic homes. However, there is a surplus of families desiring on post housing so there is a waiting list. The rental market in the area around post is great and you can find something within BAH. We found a great home, well within our BAH, in a new/growing subdivision that is a less than 5-8 minute drive to post. Many other military families (both Army & Air Force) live in our neighborhood.
7. Rate the PX: Small, overcrowded and badly in need of updating. The BX at Randolph is much larger and more updated.
8. Rate the Commissary (and why): To be honest, I haven’t shopped at the Commissary. I live within a mile of a local grocery store (HEB). It’s not worth the drive onto post to go to the Commissary.
9. Rate MWR/ACS (and why): The MWR constantly offers activities, sports, etc to take part in. My daughter has participated in swimming lessons for the past 2 years and loves going. They do activities for the full family such as Oktoberfest, Fiesta, etc.
10. Active Spouse Club? (tell us about it): My husband’s unit does not have a very active spouses club but I know that other units do.
Note: In the following please list annual events as well as things going on now…
1. Things to do ON POST: There is a waterpark-like aquatic center that is a Godsend in the hot hot summers. Additionally, there is a bowling alley, youth center, and shaded playgrounds. The MWR also hosts events such as Oktoberfest in October, a Fiesta & Fireworks event in April, various fun runs, and postwide yard sales throughout the year.
2. Things to do in CITY AROUND POST: San Antonio, often known as “Military City, USA” because of the concentration of military installations located here, is the seventh largest city in the US and the most visited city in Texas. Top sights include the Alamo and other historic missions, the River Walk, SeaWorld San Antonio, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. There are a number of museums including the Witte, McNay Art Museum, the San Antonio Art Museum and the San Antonio Children’s Museum. Exquisite shopping options including The Shops at La Cantera, North Star Mall, The Alamo Quarry Market as well as shopping along the River Walk and authentic Mexican wares at Market Square. San Antonio is best known for “Fiesta”. Fiesta is a 15 day city-wide party held each year in mid-April, honoring the heroes of the Texas Revolution at both the Battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Fiesta offers parades, more food than you could ever want, music, cascarones (hollowed out eggs filled with confetti that you crack on others’ heads), charity events, etc. It’s definitely something to experience.
3. Major SPORTING, THEATRE, or CONCERT activities: San Antonio’s only professional team is the San Antonio Spurs who play at the AT&T Center. The AT&T Center also plays host to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in February of each year with well-known country and Tejano acts performing. The Majestic Theatre puts on numerous Broadway productions throughout the year. There is a large arts community within San Antonio, with several colleges and universities here as well as the Southwest School of Arts.
4. Best way to have a “date night” with your spouse: My favorite date night is dinner on the River Walk and then capping off the evening at my favorite little piano bar in the base of La Palacio del Rio Hilton Hotel.
5. Best place to get your hair done: My salon is Treat in San Antonio, not far from post. It’s a relatively small salon but the stylists are extremely experienced.
Education/Out and About:
1. School System (how many districts, DOD schools, what are they like etc): There is a school district on post. It is a Texas independent school district, not Department of Defense schools. There’s one elementary, one middle school and one high school.
2. Area Colleges? There are numerous area colleges, universities, vocational schools, etc. The only campus of the Culinary Institute of America located outside of New York or California is located at the Pearl Brewery here in San Antonio.
3. Favorite Restaurants: San Antonio is the birthplace of Tex Mex cuisine. Being a native Texan, of course, I love Tex Mex in all forms: haute cuisine & taco truck! But I love burgers and Thai as well. Mi Tierra, Paloma Blanca, Taco Garage, The Monterey, Cheesy Janes, and Tong’s Thai are a few favorites.
4. Favorite Shopping (note: lack of shopping): North Star Mall (http://www.northstarmall.com/), Alamo Quarry Market (http://www.quarrymarket.com/), and The Shops at La Cantera (http://www.theshopsatlacantera.com/)
5. Job Market: I had a bit of a problem finding work as a teacher when we first got to San Antonio. Texas was firing teachers rather than hiring at the time of our arrival. As a result, I’ve been substituting.
6. Activities for kids: There are a number of activities for children in and around San Antonio. One of our favorite things to take our daughter to do in the summer (have I mentioned that it gets HOT here in the summer? Very hot, over 100 for weeks on end.) is to take her tubing on the Comal or Guadalupe Rivers in nearby New Braunfels (http://www.rockinr.com/). The spring fed rivers stay cool even on the hottest days. We also enjoy going to SeaWorld San Antonio to take advantage of the “Here’s to the Heroes” free admission program (http://www.herosalute.com/cavatx/index.html). Another great place to go is Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first ultra accessible family fun park (http://www.morganswonderland.com/). There’s also Kiddie Park, a kid-sized amusement park, open in San Antonio since 1925 (http://www.kiddiepark.com/). Finally there are two area children’s museums. The San Antonio Children’s Museum (http://www.sakids.org/home.aspx) is located in downtown San Antonio. The McKenna Children’s Museum (http://www.mckennakids.org/) is right up the road in New Braunfels, about 20 minutes northeast of San Antonio. This is by no means an exhaustive list of kid stuff to do in town. There are tons of parks all over town.
1. Best aspect of the post (or the cities surrounding it): I love that FSH is in such a big city and is right in the middle of town.
2. Worst aspect? I miss living on post. The wait was upwards of 18 months (over half our time here) so we opted to live off post. I often forget we’re a military family. If it weren’t for my husband coming home in uniform, I probably could forget.
3. Local websites and/or facebook pages – post website, USO, ACS or MWR website:
Ft. Sam Houston Website: http://www.samhouston.army.mil/
Ft. Sam Houston ISD: http://www.fshisd.net/
Ft. Sam Houston MWR: http://www.fortsamhoustonmwr.com/
Ft. Sam Houston MWR Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FortSamMWR
4. Weather: Have I mentioned that it gets hot here? Look, it’s South Texas. We have two seasons, hot and not as hot. Ok, that’s a Texas joke. Our summers are incredibly hot, but our other three seasons more than make up for it. Springtime in Texas is unlike anywhere else: gorgeous wildflowers and mild temps. The fall makes the summer all worth it with mild days, cool evenings and beautiful foliage up in the Hill Country. Winters can range from cool and mild to snow and ice. Yes, it actually snowed here last winter! The saying here in Texas is, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it’ll change!