Fort PolkUpdated: June 8, 2023
Fort Polk, Louisiana is an Army base in Vernon Parish near Leesville, Louisiana, and home to the U.S. Army Joint Readiness Training Center. The fort is ten miles east of Leesville, and thirty miles north of DeRidder. It is the home of the Joint Readiness Training Center.
Find information about Fort Polk, Louisiana including the main commercial and DSN numbers for the base, information on basic services, base transportation, lodging for TDY and PCSing personnel, and inprocessing.
Mission & Units
Home to the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk describes its’ mission as providing “power projection,” combat readiness, and mission execution “for all tenant units as well as JRTC rotational units.” The fort trains combat brigade teams for deployment.
Important missions and units at Fort Polk include:
- 115th Combat Support Hospital
- 3rd Brigade Patriots, 10th Mountain Division
- 46th Engineer Battalion
- 519th Military Police Battalion
- 5th Aviation Battalion
- A Company Tomahawks
- B Company Gators
- HHC/USAG Headhunters
- Replacement Company Pathfinders
- US Army Air Ambulance Detachment Cajun Dustoff
What Kind of Military Base is Fort Polk?
Nestled in the west-central area of Louisiana, Fort Polk is an active-duty United States Army installation. Spanning over 198,000 acres of land, this facility was built in 1941 and is known for being a major training hub for the United States Army.
Notably, Fort Polk hosts the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and the 10th Mountain Division. These initiatives are essential to training units for combat deployments and other real-world scenarios.
Fort Polk is also acknowledged for activities such as life-fire exercises, urban warfare simulations, and large-scale field training. In addition to being a skills development facility, this base includes the Fort Polk Warrior Transition Unit, providing care and transitional support for wounded or ill military members.
Fort Polk Housing: Where Should I Live if Stationed at Fort Polk?
When making the decision to live on-base or off-base, it’s important to weigh what you value most in housing. Fort Polk military housing was designed to accommodate the everyday needs of its military personnel and their families with a range of houses, townhomes, and duplexes.
In addition, each unit is guaranteed to come with modern amenities for ease and comfort.
The area surrounding Fort Polk includes many different housing opportunities for military members, including apartments, townhomes, and even single-family homes. The cost of living in the area is fairly low, so many choose to purchase a home in the area while others go the route of renting.
The area has a positive reputation for its outdoor recreational activities, drawing many military members toward living off-base.
Fort Polk Family Housing
There’s no doubt that living on-base has a variety of benefits for military families. Specifically, Fort Polk is known for its family-oriented programs, including Youth Centers, a Family Readiness Group (FRG), and the Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (FMWR) organization. Many military parents also enjoy the extremely short commute to work, leaving more time for family.
As Fort Polk has a huge impact on its surrounding communities many local activities are geared toward military personnel and their families. This makes it a very welcoming and inclusive location for military members hoping to raise their families off-base.
The quality of schools varies in this location, so it’s recommended military personnel do their research on education facilities before they establish off-base housing.
What is the BAH for Fort Polk?
For those choosing to live off-base, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) makes living more affordable for military members and their families. Those who live on-base do not receive this benefit as their housing is already paid for, so this is a perk only extended to those who choose or are required to live away from the base.
One piece of the puzzle that helps determine a BAH rate is pay grade, among other key variables. Fort Polk military personnel of an E04 pay grade or below without dependents receive about $705.00 each month to pay for housing. Those of the same pay grade with dependents receive a bit more to accommodate the need for extra rooms at $939.00.
The Fort Polk Housing Office: How to Apply for Housing at Fort Polk
Housing on Fort Polk is assigned based on family size, availability, and military personnel rank, and there is often a waiting list for on-base housing. Notably, those going through Permanent Change of Station (PCSing) to the area can apply for housing up to 90 days ahead of time.
Fort Polk recommends that all military personnel, whether applying for on-base or off-base housing, contact the Corvias Resident Relocation Specialists at 337-537-5000 for guidance.
Compared to some other Army installations, Fort Polk is relatively young. It was built in 1941 to accommodate the need for training in mechanized warfare in a large-scale way.
Fort Polk was converted into an area where something known as the Louisiana Maneuvers occurred. This training event involved roughly half a million U.S. troops operating over 3,000 miles.
This training helped the Army test new combat doctrines, and sixteen armored divisions are said to have been created as a result. But the fort wasn’t used exclusively for this effort; it also served to house German prisoners of war starting in 1943.
Once the war ended the fort went through periods of closure, reopening, and closure again.
This on-again, off-again use of the area came to an end eventually but not before the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma Army National Guard trained there (the very first) in preparation for deployment to Korea; more units would train there and in 1955 another large-scale training exercise called Operation Sagebrush would evaluate how troops would function in a “nuclear environment.”
That 15-day military exercise featured more than 80,000 troops, Air Force bomber participation, and an opposing force for the exercise run by the 82nd Airborne Division.
In the Vietnam era, the fort was again a training area for troops headed to the war zone. After the war, emphasis began to shift away from readiness training to maintaining armored divisions. But in the 1990s the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) was relocated to Fort Polk from Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.
Current operations at the fort include a continued spotlight role for the Joint Readiness Training Center, which Army official sources described as being, “focused on improving unit readiness by providing highly realistic, stressful, joint and combined arms training across the full spectrum of conflict (current and future)”.
Main Address And Phone
Fort Polk, LA 71459-5342
- 337-531- 0380
Important Fort Polk Phone Numbers
- American Red Cross (337) 531-4783
- Army Community Service (ACS) (337) 531-1941
- BOSS program (337) 531-1948
- Commissary (337) 531-7725
- Emergency 911
- Exchange (337) 537-1001
- ID Cards and DEERS (337) 531-1839
- Leisure Travel Services (337) 531-2728
- Library (337) 531-2665
- Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (337) 531-1979
- Operator (337) 531-2911
- Relocation Readiness Program (337) 531-6923
- SHARP Hotline (337) 531-1848
- Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-8255
- Warrior Community Activity Center (337) 531-4440
Fort Polk is situated in an area rich with culture and history. There are many sites, on and off-post, with high historical and archaeological value. The fort has more than 105,000 acres that are designated as a Fort Polk Wildlife Management Area.
Top attractions in the area include the Fort Polk Museum, but also outdoor fun at Alligator Lake Recreation Area, and Catfish Cove. Other outdoor adventures can be had at Kisatchie National Forest, which features more than 600,000 acres across seven parishes east of the fort. Kisatchie Bayou Recreation Area is known for its beaches, camping and bayou canoeing.
There are a number of small towns nearby with populations averaging between eight and ten thousand people. They include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Leesville, LA
- Anacoco, LA
- Newllano, LA
- Pitkin, LA
- DeRidder, LA
- Simpson, LA
Inprocessing and Check-In
Inprocessing at Fort Polk is centralized. All new arrivals are directed to report to the In / Out Processing Center during regular duty hours. Call (337) 531-7258; DSN 312-863-7258 for assistance.
The center is a one-stop operation that handles in-processing, PCS “final out” appointments, retirements, separations, etc. For inprocessing, the following appointments at the center apply:
- Height and Weight Screening.
- Medical Records
- Dental Records
- Education Records
- Corvias Family Housing
- Child Youth Services
- Installation SHARP Briefing
- Installation MRT Briefing
- ID Card, CAC, and/or DEERS
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital offers inpatient and outpatient care at Fort Polk. According to official sources, services may vary depending on staffing issues. Active duty military members have treatment priority, and dependents are seen after priority cases have been dealt with. Services at the hospital include:
- Family practice
- Behavioral health
- Referral management
- Internal medicine
- General surgery
- Orthopedic surgery
- Adult psychology,
- Environmental medicine
- Community health nursing
Fort Polk is served by four Child Development Centers on-post. These centers provide care for children ages six weeks to six years old, Monday through Friday. Full day care, before-and-after school care, part-day, and hourly options are all available depending on demand and other factors. Waiting lists may apply. Call 337-531-1955/1956.
Other child care options at Fort Polk include Family Child Care (FCC) which is offered on-post in certified homes that are monitored and inspected. FCC care is offered for children from four weeks to 12 years old.
To sign up for child care, Fort Polk offers a Central Enrollment and Registration Office (call 337-531-1955). Walk-ins are encouraged, and registration appointments are offered between the hours of 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m. Call the hospital at 337-531-3628.
All personnel are directed to track and manage their household goods shipments to Fort Polk via the Defense Personal Property System at Move.mil. You can also call the Fort Polk Transportation Office for local assistance. Contact them at (337) 531-1216 or (337) 531-1226.
Dependent And Retiree ID Card Renewal, Replacement, New Issue
All ID card services at Fort Polk should be scheduled by calling (337) 531-1891. Two forms of unexpired ID may be required for most services, and those who need ID card services without the presence of a military sponsor should have a specific power-of-attorney authorizing said ID services on behalf of the service member.
Walk-in appointments are possible, but you may experience long wait times depending on demand, TDY and PCS season, etc.
Whether residing on or off-post, most military families will send their children to Parkway and North Polk Elementary schools, Vernon Elementary, Leesville, Pickering or DeRidder, depending upon zip code.
There are no DoD-operated schools on post. Call the Fort Polk School Liaison Office at 337-531-9481 for assistance with transfer requirements (which may vary depending on the school district/parish) and other information.
Other Housing Information and Operations
Military housing at Fort Polk is privatized and operated by Corvias Property Management. There is a waiting list for on-post housing, those PCSing to the area can apply 90 days ahead of their arrival.
During in-processing you will be provided an application package. The base encourages troops to avail themselves of help offered by Corvias Resident Relocation Specialists by calling 337-537-5000.
Single/unaccompanied troops PCSing to Fort Polk who are E-5 and below and not drawing BAH at the with-dependents rate are “eligible” to live in barracks on-post.
PCS and TDY Lodging
If you are PCSing to the area, or are traveling on TDY orders to Fort Polk will make reservations with International Hotel Group (IHG) Welch Magnolia Guest House at 337-531-9200 or DSN 312-863-9200.
There are limited pet-friendly facilities available; contact IHG as soon as you have your orders to learn what options are available. Remember, PCS and TDY seasons may complicate travel plans due to demand; reserve as early as possible.
The usual ride-sharing and commercial taxi options may be available depending on the time of your arrival, demand, etc. Area airport options include the following, which range from just over 40 miles away to 95 miles away:
- Alexandria International Airport
- Lake Charles Regional Airport
- Jack Brooks Regional Airport
- Lafayette Regional Airport
Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License
Access to the base requires all workers including military and civilians to register in the Defense Biometric Identification System Proof of insurance is required. Drivers are advised that driving in the state without insurance will “prevent you from making insurance claims regardless of who is at fault in the accident”.
Motorcycle riders are required to use safety gear and a motorcycle safety course will be needed prior to operating a motorized two-wheeled vehicle on base.
Drivers should know that vehicles registered in the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, and West Baton Rouge are required to get vehicle inspections “in one of those same five (5) parishes” according to the official site.