Overview of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Fort Lewis

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) is located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest on the Puget Sound, in Western Washington, JBLM is near the city of Lakewood, 10 minutes from Tacoma, 35 minutes from Seattle and 20 minutes from Olympia the state capital. Although we are a Joint Base, we are not contiguous. 7.9 miles separate Lewis-Main and McChord Fld. Both Lewis and McChord are situated in a key location along Interstate 5, allowing easy access to Sea-Tac Airport and to the deep water ports of Tacoma and Seattle.

On a clear day, majestic Mount Rainier looms on the horizon, towering over the other peaks of the Cascade Range.

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TACOMA, WA - OCTOBER 24: Soldiers stand guard at the entrance to Fort Lewis October 24, 2002 in Tacoma, Washington.
Ron Wurzer / Getty Images

The consolidation of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force base began operation as a Joint Base in January 2010.  We are one of 12 new joint bases created by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closing Commission.  The new joint base has 93 years of service history and is the oldest military installation in the Pacific Northwest. 

The following information will be in regards to Fort Lewis.

Fort Lewis, named after Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition, is one of the largest and most modern military reservations in the United States. Consisting of 87,000 acres of prairie land cut from the glacier-flattened Nisqually Plain, it is the premier military installation in the Northwest. Fort Lewis is situated in a key location along Interstate 5, allowing easy access to Sea-Tac airport and to the deep water ports of Tacoma and Seattle.

The fort was designated a permanent Army post in 1927. During the post's long history, it served as home to 14 Army divisions including 3rd Infantry, 4th Infantry and the 9th Infantry Division (Motorized). Fort Lewis also served as a major training and personnel center for overseas deployment during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

The official website for Joint Base Lewis-McChord

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Location/Driving Directions

Directions to Fort Lewis

Traveling by Car, Train or Bus

Fort Lewis is located in the Pacific Northwest. It is 45 miles south of Seattle on Interstate 5. Interstate 5 divides the post; Exit 120 will take you to Fort Lewis main gate, which is open 24 hours a day. If you arrive by train, Tacoma is the stop nearest to post. Taxi and bus service are available from the station. Those traveling by bus can make connections directly to Fort Lewis. Report to Waller Hall in processing Bldg. 2140.

Air Transportation

If you arrive by commercial airline, information and assistance are available at the USO open 24 hours on the second floor in the Seattle-Tacoma (SEA-TAC) International Airport. Shuttle service is available from the airport directly to Waller Hall Welcome Center at Fort Lewis.

Shuttle Service

The Airporter Shuttle Service is available it will bring you to Fort Lewis Mini-Mall North Fort, Waller Hall (Bldg 2140), Lodge (Bldg 2111), Madigan Hospital (Nursing Tower) or McChord AMO Pass Terminal. Reservation is not taken from Sea-Tac. However, round-trip ticket holders are boarded first. From Sea-Tac, passengers will be picked up at main terminal baggage level door #00.

The phone number for the shuttle is 1-800-562-7948, leaving Sea-Tac (be at south end baggage level door #00 at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure time) 6:00; 8:30; 11:00 a.m.; 1:30; 4:00; 6:00; 9:00; 11:30 p.m.

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Population/Major Units Assigned

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) provides world-class installation support to more than 40,000 active, Guard and Reserve Service members and about 15,000 civilian workers. The base supports 60,000 family members who live on and outside the base, and nearly 30,000 military retirees living within 50 miles.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is home to many major units in the Air Force. Among those are the 62nd Airlift Wing which is joined by its Reserve partner, the 446th Airlift wing. The two wings fly 50 C-17 Globemaster IIIs to provide combat airlift for America. Joint Base Lewis-McChord hosts an Air National Guard unit as well as the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron. Other major units stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are the 361st Recruiting Squadron.

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Main Phone Numbers

AAFES--(253) 964-5955

Adjutant General (I-Corps)--(253) 967-3166

Air Field Base Operations--(253) 967-6628

Army Community Services at JBLM--(253) 967-7166

Army Emergency Relief--(253) 967-9852

Barber Shop--(253) 964-9600

Billeting--(253) 982-3591

Bus Depot (JBLM)--(253) 967-6169

Chapels (Base Chaplain)--(253) 967-3718

Child & Youth Services--(253) 967-3056

DEERS (ID Card Section)--(253) 967-5065

Dental Clinics--(253) 968-4039

Education Services--(253) 967-7174

Evergreen Inn (McChord Lodging)--(253) 982-561

Exchange (McChord BX)--(253) 582-3110

Eye Clinic --(253) 968-2790

Family Advocacy --(253) 968-4159

Family Child Care--(253) 967-7364

Family Housing--(253) 912-2150

Fisher House--(253) 964-9283

Fort Lewis Lodge ( Rainier Inn)--(253) 967-2815, Reservations (253) 964-0211

Health Department --(253) 968-4479

Hospital - Switchboard Info--(253) 968-1110

Housing (On-Base)--(253) 912-2150

Information (JBLM-Base)--(253) 967-1110

Learning Center (Education Center)--(253) 967-3976

Lodging (Rainier Inn)--(877) 711-8326 (reservations)

Madigan Health Care System--(253) 968-1110

McChord Air Force Base--(253) 982-1110

MWR--(253) 966-9807

Outdoor Recreation--(253) 967-828

Recreation Center--(253) 967-2539

Veterinarian Service--(253) 982-3951
Veterans Services(800) 827-1000Victim Advocacy (Safeline)(253) 966-7233

Video Teleconferencing Center

(253) 967-5234

Visitor Center--(253) 967-4794

Youth Services--(253) 967-5924

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Temporary Lodging

Joint Base Lewis-McChord on-base temporary lodging is managed by a military service contractor, IHG Army Hotels, which has a selection of features and service. Lodging at contractor facilities is not generally required. The front desk is open 24 hours a day to take reservations. IGH reservation phone number: 877-711-TEAM. Most temporary lodging is approved for up to 30 days for military personnel.

Local extended stay lodging is also available near the base, offer a full range of amenities, and offer military specials.

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord on post housing is privatized under the management of Lewis-McChord Corporation. Applicants may be placed on a waiting list until appropriate space becomes available. There are 3800 Army-side units available for the Fort Lewis base population of 46,500 soldiers and airmen, plus 58,000 families. Minimum of 2 bedroom housing for ranks E1-E6, minimum 3 bedrooms for E6+ and company and field grade officers. Call the JBLM Housing office at 253-982-5516/5517.

The Tacoma / Pierce County area is a mix of urban, suburban, and rural areas. Tacoma is the third largest city in Washington State, but with a variety of areas nearby. Off post, housing is readily available nearby. You have the option to use your BAH in two ways; by renting on post or renting/purchasing a home of your own off post.

The average price of a home in the Tacoma area is about $234,000. Local rents range from about $750 for a one-bedroom to about $1700 for a four bedroom.

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Lewis-Joint Base Lewis-McChord students who reside on JBLM are served by the Clover Park School District. There are six elementary schools on JBLM. Children must have reached their fifth birthday by August 31 to enter kindergarten and must be six years old by August 31 to enter first grade. Senior and Middle school students living on post attend school off-post are bused to the following schools depending on where they live on post to Lakes High School, Clover Park High School, Woodbrook, Middle School or Mann Middle School depending on which housing area they live on post. Students who may be looking for an academic challenge (grades 6-12) may want to consider General Harrison Preparatory Academy in the City of Lakewood.

Children coming to JBLM with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will present a current IEP to the school upon registration of the child into the school system.

Off Base

The children of Joint Base Lewis McChord's servicemembers' live in any one of the 19 additional school districts that surround JBLM. Many of the districts off post have K-5 grade as elementary school, grades 6-8 as a Middle School and grades 9-12 as a High School, but there are some that have K-6th grade as elementary school, grades 7-9th as Junior High and grades 10-12 as High School, so be sure to ask what the configuration is in the district in which you are looking to live.

Each school district is different in grading scales, meals, B/A school programs, sports, and SPED programs, please check with the school itself to discuss the options available for that particular school.

Home Schooling

Families that homeschool their children must file a letter of intent with the school district in which they live. If the student will require any additional training or education in the public school setting like advanced science or math the student must be enrolled in the district. The Clover Park School District and the state of Washington require that all home schools be registered through the local school district.

Private School

There are also several private and parochial schools in the local area if this is what you choose for your children.

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Child Care

Upon arriving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, we encourage you to make registration appointments to help reduce long lines and waiting. Call 253-966-2977 or DSN 347-2977 to make an appointment.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord has an excellent child and youth services program, including accredited centers and certified Family Child Care homes. You can put your child's name on the waiting list by calling 253-966-2977 prior to your arrival at JBLM. Bring shot records to register. Child and Youth and School Services Parent Central office hours are 8:00 am until 4:00 pm, Mon-Fri or by appointment after 4 pm.

Child and Youth Services offers a variety of optional child care services to include: On-Sites Child Care for Organizations, Volunteer Child Care in Unit Settings, Parent Education, Resource and Referral for child care services and central registration for all CDS programs.

The Family Child Care program offers homes certified for childcare for children ages 4 weeks - 12 years of age.

The School Age Services program offers Before/After school care for children kindergarten through 5th grade. Transportation from all on-post schools is provided. The CYS SAS Program is located at the North Fort SAS Complex.

Family Child Care (FCC) Providers offer Loving, Nurturing, and Professional Care in a home setting for children four weeks-12 years old.  Providers offer part-time care, full-time care, before & after school care & extended hours. For additional information call 253.967.3039

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Medical Care

Madigan Army Medical Center, (MAMC), located just north of the Main Post, gives priority medical care to active duty members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  MAMC also provides care to 76,000 retirees and their family members. The medical center, staffed by nearly 3,000 medical, dental, nursing and administrative personnel, examines and treats nearly 800,000 outpatients each year.

The 120-acre site is the largest military hospital on the west coast. Madigan has an average daily inpatient census of about 124. The 9-year-old medical center has 172 beds for inpatients use and can expand to accommodate 622 patients during medical emergencies. Outpatients are seen in the hospital's medical mall complex.

Madigan's ambulatory patient care service is one of the busiest in the country, with as many as 32 surgeries performed daily, 4,400 laboratory procedures are completed, 3,500 prescriptions are filled, 550 X-rays are made and six babies are delivered.

Madigan also oversees the operation of troop medical clinics and battalion aid stations on Fort Lewis.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Dental Activity consists of five on-post dental clinics and all dental specialties are represented at Fort Lewis. Each clinic has assigned units for which it is responsible.