Fort Jackson is located in Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. Originally founded as Camp Jackson in 1917, it was named after President Andrew Jackson.
It closed down after World War I, and was scheduled to be shut down again after World War II. Those plans were scrapped after the Korean War started in 1950, and it is now the largest training facility in the United States.
The base largely functions as a boot camp for new recruits. Each year almost half of all of America’s soldiers complete their basic training at Fort Jackson, including 70 percent of the army’s women. The military command’s main focus is running 10-week Basic Combat Training sessions to ensure that the soldiers are thoroughly prepared, mentally and physically, should they ever be called to action.
Though top security is practiced at all times, Ft. Jackson has an air of hospitality. Because of its training mission, relative and friends of the 45,000 initial entry trainees come to see their loved ones graduate, which makes the base a beehive of activity. In addition to being of service to the approximately 115,000 retirees in the area, Ft. Jackson is the employer of nearly 4,400 civilian employees.
In a decade where many bases are either cutting back on their services or shutting down completely, Fort Jackson continues to thrive and expand. In addition to basic training, it is also a site for the National Center for Credibility Assessment. They are responsible for teaching government employees to become adept at picking up on deceptive or evasive answers during interrogations, and how to expertly administer polygraph examinations.
It is also home to the United States Army Chaplain Center and School, which trains army, naval, and air force chaplains. The Base Realignment Committee combined the schools so that chaplains in all branches of the military bring a consistent spiritual message to their troops. Fort Jackson is the home of the army’s Drill Sergeant School.
Fort Jackson has much to offer members of the military stationed there. The renovated Post Exchange Mall has a full-service food court, beauty and barber salons, nail shops, and even a GNC store. The base also has a large water park for the whole family, as well as fishing lakes and parks for camping and cooking out. The Fort Jackson Golf course offers some of the most challenging playing fields of any army installation. Recreation also includes bingo, the Officers and NCO clubs, a bowling alley and movie theater.
Fort Jackson is only 15 minutes away from the University of South Carolina. USC is an accredited college that works closely with its military students to ensure they are able to fully utilize their GI Education allotments. Other institutes of higher learning in the area are Allen University, Benedict College and Columbia College.
Families of soldiers stationed at Fort Jackson have the opportunity to work for some of the state’s largest employers. Four of the major local corporations are BlueCross BlueShield of SC, Verizon Wireless, Palmetto Health Systems, and the University of South Carolina.