So North Fort Hood isn't really Fort Hood proper. In fact, it's a completely different posts with different Entry Control Points...and it's about 45 minutes from the main post. We live here with several other National Guard units -- mostly bound for Afghanistan, but some headed to Iraq (including a Maintenance Co. from Maryland that has the interesting mission of traveling around the American bases still left in Iraq and helping get rid of broken gear).
The conditions sort of replicate a Forward Operating Base (FOB). We carry our weapons wherever we go, we eat in a chow hall reminiscent of the ones overseas, and we're restricted to either the Army Camouflage Uniforms or our PT uniforms.
Despite some of the stressors of training, the sleep deprivation, and the fact that I'm living next to or on top of so many people (the picture here doesn't really do our squad bay justice...it's 68 guys living like this in a big room with a few lockers in between rows of bunkbeds), life here is pretty routine and it's not that bad.
I have three meals a day, I never have to wonder what to wear or where to go, and I've always got something to be doing. I could sort of go on like this indefinitely.
The tough part, however, comes when I stop and think about how much I miss Ratriey. Still, I consider myself very lucky that she has a huge, supportive family.
I think the military model really breaks when people marry young, plant their wife down somewhere like Watertown, NY or Fayetteville, NC where she no knows no one and has little support structure, and then go on repeated combat tours overseas. On top of the normal stressors of separation and anxiety, the real challenge for the spouse that's *left behind* there is how to find constructive, positive ways to cope with the isolation. There are aspects of this deployment that will be hard on both my wife and I, but neither of us will struggle to find our place this year -- I'll be putting in the endless days with my unit, and she'll be essentially living the life she lived before we met, in the same physical environment with nearly all of the same people.
Maybe this is an absurdly "glass half-full" way of looking at it, but it may even make all involved parties stronger.