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EYB: Fort Polk, Louisiana

Editor’s note: This post was updated in January 2021.

One of the most challenging aspects of military spouse life is preparing for an upcoming PCS or if you get the chance, potentially picking a new duty station. There is a lot of information out there, and it can be almost overwhelming.

We here at Mission:Milspouse want to take the some of the guesswork out of the need-to-knows about duty stations around the globe. Hence, our Post With the Most series. In this particular blog, we will be showcasing information related to Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Located in West Central Louisiana, Fort Polk is home to the Joint Readiness Training Center. It is one of three of the Army’s Combat Training Centers, and it trains more than 11 Army and National Guard Brigade Combat Teams every year. It is the fifth largest military installation by acreage in the nation.

There is often a negative stigma associated with Fort Polk due to feedback from soldiers who have only experienced Fort Polk as a “rotational training unit.” The negative stigma is often passed onto the spouses and family members prior to their arrival. Fort Polk’s location also serves as a point of contention for those that prefer a more populated urban area nearby. That said, Fort Polk is a pretty great place to be stationed.

Fort Polk itself is relatively small and in a somewhat isolated area. Due to its small “hometown” feel, many families find that the relationships they build there are their favorite part of being stationed at Fort Polk. Neighbors become friends; friends become family. This is a very tight-knit community. The host city of Leesville has been voted one of the most supportive military towns in the country. They truly have a love and respect for service members and their families, and they go out of their way to show it.

There is a lot of truth in the statement “it is what you make of it.” If you choose to seclude yourself and sit at home, bored, you will probably be counting down the days until your next PCS; however, if you get out, form relationships, explore your surroundings, and make the most our of your time there, these will be some of your most memorable years.

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!)

GENERAL INFORMATION

Fort Polk is home to the following units:

Surrounding Cities:

Closest MAJOR City: Lafayette

Names of Area Colleges:

Weather: Fort Polk has a subtropical climate. The long summers are hot and humid with frequent thundershowers in the afternoon. The average summer temperature is 90 degrees, but it’s the humidity that characterizes the subtropical climate. You won’t often find relief in the shade. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico are a threat in the summer months, but there’s plenty of advance warning for both residents and visitors. The winters in Louisiana are mild and short. Winter low temperatures sometimes hover near freezing. Occasionally, there are issues with ice.

Time Zone: Central Time Zone

SPECIFIC POST INFORMATION

To access the post website, click here.

Map of the area

Historical Facts/Landmarks: Fort Polk was established in 1941 and named in honor of the Right Reverend Leonidas Polk, the first Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana.

Fort Polk has a long history focused on training U.S. service members to fight around the world, beginning with the Louisiana Maneuvers and followed by the establishment of “Camp Polk” in 1941. Training ceased a few years after the end of World War II, and Fort Polk was declared inactive. That is, until the start of the Korean War, when training picked up yet again on a temporary basis. After America’s role in the war ended, the post closed. And so it went for years—the post would re-open, but close a few years later, growing, booming, then shrinking to nothing. Many local businesses also closed during that time; some citizens left for new opportunity elsewhere.

But with tension growing in Vietnam, Fort Polk was reborn, continuing its major training mission with Tiger Land (signs which can still be found on the installation today). Soldiers needed to learn how to fight in jungle conditions, and Fort Polk’s environment was the best place to start. Trainees encountered booby trap simulations, bamboo stake defenses, and other realistic figments of war.

While the units and size of the installation changed over time, the training didn’t quit. What once had been real-world training for Vietnam eventually became real-world training for the Middle East, specifically Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraqi and Afghan villages sprang up in the pine forests of Fort Polk. More than 1.6 million soldiers have deployed to the Middle East since 9/11, and at least 50% have trained at Fort Polk.

For more on Fort Polk’s history, visit the Fort Polk Museum.

HOUSING

On-post Housing is managed by Corvias.

There are three main neighborhoods: Dogwood Terrace and Palmetto Terrace are located on South Fort, and Maple Terrace is on North Fort. Most neighborhoods have a mix of old and new housing, and Corvias is constantly working to renovate old housing. The company has plans to add several new homes over the next few years.

Each neighborhood has its own community center, which includes: a community room, computer room, outdoor pool, small fitness center, lounge/media room, playgrounds, and a picnic area 

SCHOOLS

School Liaison Officer

School Districts:

“Vernon Parish is an open district. Your child may attend any school in the district if there is room. However, you are responsible, for transportation if you are not zoned to attend that school.”

 On-Post Schools

Off-Post Schools

The below public schools are for Vernon Parish only. Please click the Beauregard Parish School Board link above for more schools.

ON-POST SERVICES  

“Fort Polk offers dozens of other amenitites outside the standard options found on most installations. At Fort Polk you’ll find batting cages, a miniature golf course, a go kart track, and a splash park.” — Sarah P.

OFF-POST INFORMATION

Health Care:

Best place for beauty services:

RESTAURANTS

Your taste buds will be very happy here! Louisiana is home to Cajun cuisine that includes red beans and rice, jambalaya, beignets, the famous muffuletta—Louisiana’s version of an Italian sub, and let’s not forget crawfish! You haven’t fully experienced Louisiana until you dig into a crawfish creation of some sort.

On post:

Leesville:

DeRidder:

Natchitoches:

Alexandria:

Lake Charles:

New Orleans:

MUST DO

Louisiana is known as the Sportsman’s Paradise, and with so many outdoor activities available year-round, it’s easy to understand why. You can choose from hunting, boating, and swimming to fishing and hiking. Whatever recreational needs you desire, Fort Polk has it! For events on Fort Polk, check with the fantastic MWR group or in the pages of The Fort Polk Guardian.

Being in central Louisiana also provides you access to major cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and Houston and Dallas, Texas. New Orleans and Baton Rouge give you a great flavor for the Cajun culture where you can walk through the French Quarter, visit plantations along the mighty Mississippi, attend one of many Mardi Gras parades, or chow down at a crawfish boil, which is an experience unlike anything else. If you’re a football fan, be sure to head to Baton Rouge for a LSU game.

Anacoco:

Florien:

  • Hodges Gardens State Park: You’ll find special events here all throughout the year. Don’t miss their stargazing evenings!

Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-it-ish):

Alexandra:

Lake Charles:

New Orleans:

  • Jazz Festival

Events around the state:

  • Swamp Tour
  • Mardi Gras Parade—They can be found everywhere!
  • Visit an alligator farm
  • Try all the foods: Crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, etoufee, beignets, po’boys, and more.
  • Attend a festival—Within five hours from Fort Polk, there are countless sights and activities for curious kids and fun-seeking adults. Among the most notable is the variety of festivals you can attend year-round. In fact, Louisiana hosts 400 festivals each year. No wonder it’s often called the “Festival Capital of America”! Louisianans celebrate everything from the Strawberry Festival to the New Orleans Jazz Fest to the Holiday Festival of Lights. Louisiana knows how to throw a festival, and they can be found all over the state almost every weekend. Check the post newspaper for all the news of what’s happening.

Head over to Texas: If it’s the big city life you crave, travel across the state line to Texas. Both Dallas and Houston are fun towns. Both cities offer major league sports like the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Texas Rangers, and Houston Astros. You can dine at five-star restaurants or shop-till-you-drop at high quality retail stores.

SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTIONS

Army Wife Network does not promote or endorse these groups; however, we know they can be helpful in learning about various duty stations, so they are provided for your convenience. 

Installation Facebook page: JRTC and Fort Polk

Military Spouse Groups:

Buy/Sell/Trade Pages:

Religious services:

SPOUSE TESTIMONIALS

“Fort Polk is one of those places where people say ‘You’ll cry when you receive orders, but you’ll cry harder when you leave.’ It’s true. Fort Polk gets a bad rap, but usually not from the people who have actually lived there. I made my closest friends while I lived there, people I’m still friends with today. Don’t mope about how ‘rural’ it is—get out, and do things! There is so much to see and do. Natchitoches is one of my favorite places to visit, and the town puts on events all throughout the year. You’ll find cute little boutiques and lots of yummy restaurants. If you like to eat, you’ll have plenty to explore through taste. If you like to travel, you can go to a variety of towns, cities, and states. There is plenty here to fit every interest. Fort Polk itself hosts events throughout the year and truly works hard to care for its residents.” —Sarah P.

“I cried when we found out we received orders to Fort Polk. Every time we mentioned to someone that we were going to Polk, they said ‘we are so sorry.’ However, after getting settled in, we quickly realized this is one of the best duty stations we’ve ever experienced. We love our street and our neighbors. There is a very ‘small town feel’ to post. We feel safe. Traffic is minimal. People are so friendly, on post and off. There are so many events throughout the year for families. FreedomFest is amazing. We are already dreading when our time comes to leave Fort Polk behind.” —Anonymous

“When we got orders to Fort Polk, people’s comments were unbelievably negative to the point that I had the feeling we were about to PCS to a state penitentiary! It is absolutely not that bad, and if you feel that way, I have good news: It isn’t permanent. My life here is busy to the point I really do not have time to look around and find things I don’t like. When I got here, of course it was hard. Every PCS is somewhat hard, but once I started going to school and volunteering, everything became pretty easily. I met people. I got a job. Every single moment I have is dedicated to finding fun activities and appreciating everything the area has to offer: the wild horses, the massive bird diversity, the old trees surviving through history, a tray of crawfish perfectly seasoned, a swamp tour, a run around the golf course, a trip to Houston, the endless outdoor sporting activities (fishing, boating, hunting), the colonial buildings, the gorgeous scenery of the Creole Natural Trail, and more. Be dynamic, curious, and positive, and the boredom won’t be an issue anymore.” —Army Spouse

“Fort Polk offers the quiet hometown feel that so many of us crave after traveling around with the Army. If you choose to live on post, swimming pools to escape the summer heat and neighborhoods full of friends who have become family are waiting. If you prefer to live off post, there are plenty of housing options in surrounding communities on larger plots of land. Our family has loved experiencing Louisiana’s ‘laissez les bon temps rouler’ culture, and a festival or celebration is not hard to find in any direction you travel. Leesville is not a big city, but the community is very supportive of soldiers and their families, and there are lots of local hidden gems for dining and shopping. If you enjoy outdoor sports, Fort Polk has plenty to offer. We’re also just a short drive from one of the Army Recreational Areas at Toldeo Bend, which offers amazing camping, fishing, and boating. Our family has enjoyed the slow pace of life here at Fort Polk and the amazing friends we have met because of it.” —Army wife of eight years

 

 

 

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