Historic Fort Lewis was named after the famous explorer Meriwether Lewis who was the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
With the Joint Base combined history of over 93 years, it is the oldest military base in the Pacific Northwest. The United States Air Force became a branch of the Armed Forces in 1917, the same year Camp Lewis was founded. Lewis-McChord is in a prime site ideal for military members, situated along Interstate 5 with easy access to the Sea-Tac airport.
The base’s mission is to serve as a mobilization and training center. Its ideal locale allows for quick access to the ports of Tacoma, Seattle and Olympia. Since the base is strategically located, it’s also able to provide humanitarian and combat airlift services to nearly any world location using the C-17A Globemaster III.
The base is a short drive from both Tacoma and Seattle. There are many opportunities for outdoor sports like fishing, hunting, boating and hiking. Seattle is a unique city with many shopping and entertainment options, along with a variety of restaurants. Theaters, museums and exciting sports are also found in Seattle. The Mariners provide exciting baseball action while the Seattle Seahawks offer entertaining football options for residents of Lewis-McChord.
Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC) is just a short distance north of the post and provides health care to active duty, their families and retirees. The hospital sits on over 120 acres of grounds and is the largest military hospital in the area. Most clinics feature Monday through Friday hours. However, some clinics work after hours so it’s best to call for options.
Most students from the base go to schools either in the Clover Park School District or in the North Thurston School District. There are five elementary schools on the post. Students in Junior and Senior High School go to school off base at Woodbrook Junior High, Mann Junior High and Lakes High School.
Housing is available on post in eleven zones with a total of 3,800 family housing units that are assigned according to the requirements of number of bedrooms and rank. Housing on post is available to all ranks. Families can use temporary housing in the Lewis Lodge until post housing opens or until they find off-post housing. There are 100 rooms available and 45 of those have kitchenette’s. Five units are designed for families with pets. The base also provides relocation assistance and many smaller household items can be borrowed for up to 30 days from the loan closet.
Cost of living in the area is higher than it is in some cities. Unemployment is about 9.4 percent. The three biggest employers in Seattle are Boeing, Microsoft and the University of Washington system. Employment in Tacoma ranges from warehouse jobs to trade positions to retail and service jobs. There is one commissary on the base, one shoppette and a main exchange. There are three base child care facilities and lists of certified family care homes off base.