MacDill Happenings

Things to Do in and around MacDill AFB

Archive for the ‘News’

Three Things You Should Know About Your PCS Moves

July 19, 2014 By: maclaura Category: News No Comments →

Car with luggage

If your getting ready to make a PCS move, then are few things you should know about especially if this is your first military move! Whether you are a veteran of making PCS moves or making your first PCS moves, it’s always good to know what to expect.

  • MOVERS: The first thing to do is find out information at  This website is the location of the Defense Personal Property System (DPS) which is an internet-based system to manage DoD household goods moves.  You can find if you are eligible to self-counsel and submit your moving application online, instead of traveling to a Transportation Office (TO).  Eligible will vary depending on the Service.
  • MONEY:  This is always an important topic!  You can take a look at Frequently Asked Questions at the Defense Travel Management Office website.  Basically you can expect a set amount of per diem and lodging for a set amount of travel time.  If you spend more than the set amount of per diem and lodging, then you will not be reimbursed for the extra money you spend.
  • HOUSING: You can sign up for on-base housing or you can find a home off of the base.  The base housing office can help you with on-base and off-base housing.  If you are interested in off-base housing, take a look at the MilitaryByOwner website to get idea of types, locations and prices.

Moving can be a fun time!  Enjoy the new adventures that will be coming your way!

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What’s Happening at MacDill AFB this week?

July 16, 2014 By: maclaura Category: children, Events, News, Things to do No Comments →

 MacDill pic courtesyofAJtrips blogspot

Since the name of this blog is “MacDill Happenings”  I thought I would share some events  happenings on Macdill in the next week. For those of you with kids you will notice quite a few back to school events. So lets see what fun events we can attend in the next couple of days on MacDill.

  •  For those looking for a job or to soon be transitioning to the civilian sector you may want to check out the Job Fair on July 18th. It will take place at the Surf’s Edge Club from 11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. Bring your resume and dress for success.
  • Free movie night is July 18th and the movie this week is Wall-E. The movie starts at 5:30 and is FREE. You can bring your own snacks and beverages but please clean up after yourselves.
  • If you are a vocalist, then you need to be at the Surf’s Edge Club on July 18 for the Air Mobility Icon competition. The event starts at 5:00 p.m. and you can register at Good Luck!!
  • The MacDill AFB Youth Center will be hosting a Teen Dance on Friday July 18th at 7:00 p.m. For more information call 828-7956. The dance is open to kids 13-18 years of age.
  • School physicals will be administered on July 26th at the Base Clinic. If you are on Tricare Prime or a Coalition child you can attend from 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Children must have a parent present and ID cards will be checked. If you are new to MacDill, bring a copy of your orders. Call 828-CARE for an appointment. Food trucks and a coffee truck will be present.
  • A Back to School Fair is also being held on July 26th at the clinic. This event will include free giveaways including school supplies. For more information call 828-0145. The event is being held from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
  • Another back to school event that is not being held on base but should be fun will take place at the George M Steinbrenner stadium in Tampa. The first 600 kids aged 14 and under to attend the game will receive a backpack loaded with school supplies. The gates open at 6:00 p.m. and the game will begin at 7:00 p.m. If you have not watched a Tampa Yankees game this is a great opportunity.

Lots of great MacDill AFB happenings coming up. Make sure you mark them on your calendar. If you have a great event you would like to share please leave a comment here on the blog or send a Facebook message. You can also send us a Tweet to @MacDill Happenin.


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Does Your Home Contain Radon?

July 14, 2014 By: maclaura Category: News No Comments →

Radon House Courtesy of the EPA

Does your home contain Radon? A question many of us ask when buying or renting a home. This can also be of concern to those living in Military privatized housing located on Military installations.

What is Radon? It is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by the radioactive breakdown of naturally occurring radium found naturally in soil. Radon enters our homes through small cracks and openings found in our foundations. Once the gas seeps in to a home it is then trapped. The levels in a home can be much higher than outside. We here in Florida tend to keep our homes sealed up tight to keep the air conditioning in which can keep these gases from circulating outside.

Why is Radon a concern? Radon is considered a Class A carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer. Luckily, Hillsborough County is considered to be in the moderate potential level for Radon. This means the average screening level is  between 2 and 4 pCi/L a reading over 4 is considered dangerous. The State of Florida has aggressive policies regarding the testing and removal of Radon.

Here are some ways to make sure your the levels of Radon in your home are at a safe level;

  • You can buy a home from a builder that is certified to build Radon resistant homes.
  • You can require a Radon test be done as part of a home inspection when buying a home or ask for one to be done by your landlord.( Note the VA highly recommends you have a Radon inspection done.)
  • Purchase a home test kit. Most of the home builder stores including Lowes and Home Depot will have these. (Don’t forget  your Military discount at Lowes and Home Depot!)
  • If you do have high levels, make sure you use EPA approved techniques to improve the levels.
  • If you are living in base housing, you may also want to purchase a kit or ask the Privatized housing manager when the homes were last tested. Their have been several Military bases where radon was found to be at high levels including Kadena AFB. In all the instance’s I have read about the Military was quick to make changes to improve the levels.
  • Read our staff writer Karina’s latest article on Radon.

As mentioned earlier Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can cause some serious health issues if not addressed. If your home has not had a Radon inspection recently, then please use the resources in this article to  test your home. Our resource page is packed full of information and resources to help keep your home healthy and safe.

I hope this article will not panic you but make you aware of Radon here in the MacDill AFB area. If you have had an experience with Radon in a home you have bought or rented please share any advice or tips you may have on solving the problem. You can also share with us on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet to @MacDill Happenin.

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Freebies on 7/11/14

July 10, 2014 By: maclaura Category: Events, News, Things to do No Comments →



Friday 7/11/14 seems to be “Freebie” day. Most of us already know that the July 11th usually signifies a free Slurpee from your neighborhood 7/11 store. But who knew their would be other great freebies being given out also! Here is a list of some of the fun FREE things going on the next few days:

  • Of course we have to mention the FREE Slurpee’s at 7/11. From 11 a.m. until 7 p.m you can get a free small Slurpee. While there download the 7/11 App to get a whole weeks worth of free stuff.
  • Next it is the ever popular Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. Show up at your local Chik-fil-A fully dressed as a cow and receive a free meal. If you arrive partially dressed say in a cow scarf you can pick a free entree.
  • For dessert you can stop your Krispy Kreme donuts store and get a dozen donuts for almost FREE! To celebrate the Krispy Kreme original donuts 77th Birthday you can purchase a dozen donuts and then receive a dozen original glazed donuts for just 77 cents.

Saturday 7/12/14 will also have a few FREE events;

  • Free Fireworks at Channelside . The fun starts a 5 p.m. with food trucks, live entertainment and a firework display at 9 p.m.
  • Don’t forget if you are active duty Military you and your family can enjoy MOSI and the Henry B Plant Museum for free through the Blue Star Museums program. The program includes many Museums within a few hours drive from the MacDill AFB area.

Lots of free things to eat and do this weekend so get out there and enjoy! Please share with us any FREE events we may have missed. You can share here in our comments section or on our Facebook page. You can also send us a tweet @MacDill Happenin.

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Fireworks Near MacDill AFB

July 02, 2014 By: maclaura Category: children, Communities, Events, News No Comments →


Wondering where to watch the fireworks in the MacDill AFB area? Living in the Tampa Bay area we have lots of choices. You may want to go to the beach or you may want to go to Channelside. Fireworks displays start around 9pm.  Here is a list of firework events in the area:

Hillsborough County

-Tampa: Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive; Hogan’s Beach, 7700 Courtney Campbell  Causeway
-Plant City: Plant City Stadium, 1810 E Park Road
-Brandon: Brandon Towne Center Mall

The Florida Aquarium is an venue to watch the fireworks at Channelside. The Aquarium will be open until 9:30pm. Another good spot to watch the fireworks at Channelside is from the parking structure.

Pinellas County

-St. Petersburg Spa Beach at the Pier approach, 615 Second Ave. N.
-St. Pete Beach: Upham Beach, 6850 Beach Plaza
-Clearwater:  Coachman Park, 301 Drew St.
-Treasure Island: Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd.
-Tarpon Springs: Fred Howard Park, 1700 Sunset Drive
-Gulfport: Beach Boulevard
-Madeira Beach: Archibald Park, 15100 Gulf Blvd.
-Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive
-Safety Harbor City Marina, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane

Sarasota County

-Palmetto: Sutton Park, Sixth Street and 10th Avenue W
-Sarasota: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 S Palm Ave.

Pasco County

-Dade City: Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52
-Wesley Chapel: The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive

If you have some tips on where to watch fireworks or some hints about parking, can you share them with us?

Firework Safety Tips

July 01, 2014 By: maclaura Category: children, News No Comments →

-sparklers- courtesy of wnedblog

Firework Safety

Independence Day or 4th of July as most of us call it is just a few days away. The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the picnics, the food and mostly the fireworks! We are not a family that usually purchases fireworks.  We normally go and view a professional version or just sit back and watch the neighbors. I have gotten sparklers for the kids .  But I do have a teenager who likes to buys a few items other than sparklers. This has always been a little scary for me. According to the National Fire Protection Agency in 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks related injuries; 55% of 2012 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 31% were to the head. These are frightening statistics.

Below are some safety tips from the National Council on Firework Safety ;

  • Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
  • Use fireworks as directed on consumer product safety label; never alter products.
  • Observe local laws and use good COMMON SENSE.
  • Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family show.
  • A responsible ADULT should supervise all firework activities.
  • Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.   Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; AWAY from buildings and vehicles.
  • NEVER carry fireworks in your POCKET.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

The last tip made me wonder what is legal in FL? I have been seeing articles stating if you are scaring away birds you can use these types of articles. To answer that question here is a quote from the Tampa Bay Times  “In Florida, it’s illegal to buy, sell or explode consumer fireworks — even on your own property — unless you (A) have a city permit to shoot off fireworks for the public to enjoy; (B) will use the explosives to scare off birds from a farm or fish hatchery; or (C) you work on a railroad and need to light or clear a path for your train. The state defines “fireworks” to include standard fireworks, projectile fireworks, launch-able rockets with stands, M-80s and bottle rockets.”  The article also goes on to explain that most of the fireworks sold at stands or shops are actually illegal and signing that waiver does not make it legal. The waiver protects the seller and you are basically saying you own a fish hatchery. So yes my neighbors who put on a great firework show are actually breaking the law.

Follow these tips and stay safe and enjoy this wonderful holiday celebrating our independence. And please always celebrate responsibly. Happy 4th of July from your MacDill Happenings and family!

Please if you have an event, advice or a tip to share please comment below or on our Facebook page. You can also send us a tweet @MacDill Happenin.

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VA Loans-The What, The Why And The How.

June 30, 2014 By: maclaura Category: News No Comments →



VA Loans-The What, The How and The Why.


Is purchasing a home on your agenda this Summer? Has a recent PCS move prompted you to buy instead of rent? If this is the case and you are in the Military, then you will probably want to use a VA loan to purchase your new home.

What is a VA loan? The VA loan program was started in 1944 with President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (now called the GI Bill). The Bill gave Military families the ability to secure a home loan that would be federally guaranteed and that would require no down payment. Roosevelt was hoping the GI Bill would help to revitalize the countries economy. This benefit is still used today and according to the VA almost 25.5 million Veterans are eligible to use this benefit to purchase a home. The VA loan benefit is now available to National Guard and Reservists who meet the requirements. The VA loan is actually made through a private lender such as a mortgage company, bank etc… and must be for a home in which the Veteran will personally occupy. If you would like to use a VA loan you do have to meet the qualifications.

The Why?

  • No down payment in most cases.
  • Negotiable interest rate .
  • Closing costs are generally less.
  • The VA will offer you assistance if you need to default on the loan due to a difficult financial situation.
  • Peace of mind for Military home buyers since a home inspection including a termite inspection is required.

For more information on why a VA loan would be a great fit for you check out the Fact Sheet . Another great source to check out is the resource page of with several great articles on VA loans.

How do you apply for a VA loan? To start you will want to fill out the prequalify information found on the Veterans Affairs website. Here you will also find lots of helpful information to help you get the loan process started. You will also need to secure a mortgage lender. You can choose to use your bank , a credit union such as USAA or Navy Federal Credit Union or a mortgage lender such Veteran’s United Home Loans. To make things really simple you can click on VA Home Loan and see if you prequalify by answering a few questions supplied by Veteran’s United Home Loans.

Now that you know the what, the why and the how of a VA loan the next step is finding that great home. Check out these great homes in the MacDill AFB area. Please share with us any tips you have on using a VA loan. You can give us a shout out on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet @MacDill Happenin.


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Free Events on MacDill AFB

June 25, 2014 By: maclaura Category: Events, News No Comments →

Macdill AFB

If you’re looking for a couple of free things to do on Thursday, then take a look at a couple things to do on MacDill AFB.

  • “Saving Mr. Banks” will be playing at the MacDill movie theater.  The show starts at 5:30pm and is free!  Everyone is welcome to attend.  There is no concession stand, so you can bring your own snacks and drinks.  Just make sure you clean up afterwards.  It can get chilly in the theater, so bring something to keep yourself warm.
  • For adults, the base pool has free fitness swimming from 11am to 2pm.
  • At the golf course from noon to 1pm, active duty military members and their dependents can receive free golf instruction at the driving range.  The instruction is free, but you have to pay for a bucket of balls. A small bucket of balls is only $2.

It seems like prices are going up everywhere, so it’s great to find something free!  If you know of something free, then feel free to share it!

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Resources For Your Next PCS Move

June 23, 2014 By: maclaura Category: News, Self Improvement No Comments →

moving truck courtesyof4x4trucktrailers


As I am sitting at my desk today I see the moving truck across the street. The neighbors are doing their pack out today and I will have to say I am a little envious! Yes we have retired now. But, I am still itching for one more adventure. I know for some the idea of a new set of PCS orders is a dreaded event. But for me it was always a little exciting. Maybe it comes from being a Military brat. But seeing that truck also made me think of how much goes into getting ready for that big move whether it was overseas or just a state over it is a lot of work. So as I look out my window wishing the moving truck was at my house moving me to say Hawaii I thought I would share some PCS moving tips.

  • One of the best sources you can go to for any questions relating to your Military move is the Defense Travel Management Office page. Here you can find information such as your Per Diem, TLA/TLE rates, and your baggage allowance.
  • Another great resource is where you can find planning tools etc.. This site also helps you with questions on travel restrictions, weigh limits etc.. This is also where you will go to set up your move and schedule your packers or delivery.
  • Military OneSource is another great tool with information on how to connect with people at your new duty station to how to reach the Housing Service Office at your new location.
  • is also a great tool. The site will not only help you find a new home to rent or buy at your new location but has a wealth of knowledge on their resource page. The staff writers for are mostly Military spouses themselves and use this knowledge to answer some of the most asked moving questions. They also have several blogs and Facebook pages that have great information. For starters this blog here MacDill Happenings and also San Diego Military Lifestyle and PCS-Lodging. The regional blogs are great resources to help you with information in those areas and PCS-Lodging can help you with finding accommodations along the way and when you reach your destination.
  • Another great tool is Military Town Adviser. This resource lets you look up information about neighborhoods near your new Military installation.

If  that moving truck will be pulling in to your driveway soon please take a moment to look over these resources and if you know of any I have missed please share them with me. You can always share your comments here or on our Facebook page. I would love to hear from you! Oh and you can always send us a Tweet at @MacDill Happenin.


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Traveling Via A Space “Hop”

June 20, 2014 By: maclaura Category: News, Things to do No Comments →

MacDill AFB Pax terminal courtesy of MacDILL AFB

Space-A Travel


It is Summer Vacation time and we are all trying to think of ways to save money on our vacation travels. Well if you are an active duty military member or retired a retired military member, then choosing to take a “hop” on a Military flight is a great way to save. This so called “hop” is actually taking advantage of space available on Military transport flights. In the MacDill AFB area, we have a unique opportunity to catch a flight from MacDill or even driving up to NAS  Jacksonville to  try out a Space-A “hop”.

Check out these great articles by our staff writer Monica who at this moment is enjoying England and Ireland via a Space-A flight.

“Space-A Adventure”

“Space A Travel-Tips for Traveling Overseas”

“Space A Travel-Getting On a Flight”

For information on the MacDill AFB Passenger terminal and flights available you can go to MACDILL or to FACEBOOK  which will actually give you information on other Passenger Terminals in the area.

So with this money saving tip, there is no excuse to get out there and have a great Summer vacation!  If you have any tips on using Space-A, please share them with us here or on our Facebook page.

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