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Fort Johnson Army Base Guide

Fort Johnson, formerly known as Fort Polk, Louisiana, is an Army base near Leesville, Louisiana.

The fort, located in Vernon Parish, is ten miles east of Leesville and thirty miles north of DeRidder. It is the home of the Joint Readiness Training Center and the U.S. Army Joint Readiness Training Center. Fort Polk was renamed in 2023 as part of a push to eliminate names from the Confederacy from U.S. military bases.

Base History

In June 2023, when ABC News ran an article about the name change from Fort Polk to Fort Johnson, the network notes, “Fort Polk was originally named after Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk, a Confederate commander.”

After the name change, the installation was redesignated Fort Johnson in honor of Sgt. William Henry Johnson, who ABC reports, was an African American World War I Medal of Honor recipient who served in the all-Black 369th U.S Infantry Regiment.

The fort was originally built in 1941 to train soldiers in mechanized warfare. Then known as Fort Polk, the installation was responsible for training operations for approximately half a million troops.

The fort was also a POW camp for a time, but after the war, the site’s usefulness was in question. It opened, closed, and reopened until the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma Army National Guard began using the fort as a training site for troops headed into the Korean War.

The fort would be used similarly during Vietnam, but when that conflict ended, readiness training was backburnered in favor of maintaining U.S. armored divisions. In the 1990s, the fort inherited the Joint Readiness Training Center from Fort Chaffee, Arkansas

In the 21st century, the Joint Readiness Training Center is still at Fort Johnson. Army official sources describe the mission of the Center as “focused on improving unit readiness by providing highly realistic, stressful, joint and combined arms training…”

Surrounding Area

Fort Johnson is in Vernon Parish in West-Central Louisiana. This area, known by the locals as  “The Crossroads,” is approximately 145 miles from Baton Rouge and 225 miles from New Orleans. The fort has over 100 thousand acres designated as a Wildlife Management Area

Local attractions include many family-friendly sites, including the Fort Johnson Museum, Alligator Lake Recreation Area, and Catfish Cove. If you love the great outdoors, there is more to explore here; be sure to visit Kisatchie National Forest, which has roughly six hundred thousand acres across seven parishes east of the installation.

This area features plenty of small towns and cozy communities to explore, including nearby Leesville, Anacoco, and Newllano.

Related: VA Home Loan Guide

Mission and Units

Fort Johnson holds “large-scale operations on a decisive action battlefield against a near-peer threat with multi-domain capabilities,” according to the DoD. Fort Johnson supports “globally deployable missions.” Important missions and units at the fort have included:

  • A Company Tomahawks
  • B Company Gators
  • HHC/USAG Headhunters
  • Replacement Company Pathfinders
  • US Army Air Ambulance Detachment Cajun Dustoff
  • 15th Combat Support Hospital
  • 3rd Brigade Patriots, 10th Mountain Division
  • 46th Engineer Battalion
  • 519th Military Police Battalion
  • 5th Aviation Battalion

In-Processing and Check-In

All troops arriving at the fort on PCS orders are directed to check in at the In/Out Processing Center, Building 250, 1716 3rd Street. This is a “one-stop facility” for in-processing, out-processing, and transitions from military to civilian life. Hand-carry all records, orders, and amendments to the Center.

There is an Installation Mandated Orientation for new arrivals. This is scheduled for Thursdays and was created “to help prepare Service members to adapt to life in the Fort Johnson community.”

Child Care

Multiple Child Development Centers serve Fort Johnson. These facilities offer care for children between 6 weeks and 6 years old, Monday through Friday. Options at press time include full-day care, before and after Kindergarten care, part-day pre-school, and hourly care on a space-available base. Call 337-531-1955 to learn about waiting lists and other considerations.

Related: Military Spouse Career Support Act

Housing

Corvias Property Management operates base housing at Fort Johnson. Due to demand, waiting lists may apply for on-post housing. If you are PCSing to the area, apply for housing or get on the waiting list 90 days before PCS travel.

When you arrive at the fort, you will be given a housing application package, but before that consider calling a Corvias Resident Relocation Specialist at 337-537-5000. If you are a single or unaccompanied soldier E5 or below PCSing to the fort, you may be eligible to live on-post if you do not draw BAH.

Related: BAH Calculator

PCS and TDY Lodging

The Holiday Inn Express Magnolia House & Cypress Inn provides temporary lodging to those traveling to Fort Johnson on PCS or TDY orders. Call to make reservations at 337-531-9000. Pet-friendly rooms are not guaranteed; due to demand, these may be available in advance. Don’t assume pet-friendly facilities are available without asking in advance at reservation time.

Fort Johnson Transportation

The usual ride-sharing, shuttles, and taxis may be available when you arrive; coordinate with your sponsor to learn the best way to get to the base from the airport.

DoD literature states, “If you are on orders for Fort Johnson and plan on flying to the area, book your flight to the Alexandria International Airport in Alexandria, Louisiana. There you will find a Fort Johnson welcome desk.”

Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License

All vehicles must comply with Louisiana state law for insurance, emissions, safety equipment, and other factors.

In order to operate a privately owned vehicle at Fort Johnson, both military and civilians must register in the Defense Biometric Identification System.

Motorcyclists may be required to take special safety courses or other certifications in order to operate a two-wheeled vehicle on-post. Call 337-531-7303 for information about registering when you arrive.

Schools At Fort Johnson

There are no DoD-operated schools on post. Whether you live on or off-base, at Fort Johnson, military families typically send their children to Parkway and North Polk Elementary schools, Vernon Elementary, Leesville, Pickering or DeRidder. Attendance at one of these may depend on your zip code.

Call the Fort JohnsonSchool Liaison Office at 337-531-9481 for information on transferring students, enrolling new students, and the documentation you’ll need to provide.

Fort Johnson Colleges and Universities

The fort has several colleges with on and off-campus class options. They include:

  • Central Texas College
  • Northwestern State University
  • McNeese State University
  • Upper Iowa University

You can learn more about on-base and off-base education opportunities by calling the Education Center at 337.531.1537. The Education Center can help you learn more about your options, financial aid, military Tuition Assistance, and the GI Bill.

Related: Ultimate GI Bill Guide

Fort Johnson Contacts

Fort Johnson
Louisiana Avenue
Building 5903
Fort Johnson, LA 71459-5342

  • 337-531- 0380
  • 312-863-0380

Important Fort Johnson Phone Numbers

  • Army Community Service (ACS) (337) 531-1941
  • BOSS program (337) 531-1948
  • Child and Youth Services (337) 531-1955
  • Emergency 911
  • ID Cards and DEERS (337) 531-1891
  • 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

Other Military Bases and VA and Veteran Facilities in Louisiana

Find a listing of military bases, as well as VA resources and veteran facilities in the state of Louisiana.  If you are traveling to Louisiana on PCS orders, look up the BAH in your new duty location using our BAH Calculator. You can also look up veteran benefits in Louisiana.

Army Bases in Louisiana

  • Camp Beauregard
  • USAREC, Baton Rouge Battalion

Air Force Bases in Louisiana

  • Barksdale Air Force Base

Navy Bases in Louisiana

  • Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans

Get more info on VA benefits for veterans, retirees, separating service members, spouses, dependents, and disabled veterans. Learn more about the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon program, monthly housing allowances, VA loans, and TRICARE.

Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities in Louisiana

Alexandria VA Medical Center

2495 Shreveport Highway
Pineville, LA 71360-4044
318-473-0010
Mental health: 318-466-2455

Lafayette Campus B VA Clinic

309 Saint Julien Avenue
The Specialist Center
Suite 201
Lafayette, LA 70506-4655
337-706-1940

Jennings VA Clinic

1907 Johnson Street
Jennings, LA 70546-3627
337-785-4700
Mental health: 337-785-4700 x3

Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) and Pre-Discharge Claims Intake Site at Fort Johnson

1585 3rd St.
Bayne Jones Army Community Hospital Rm 1221
Fort Johnson, LA 71459
800-827-1000

Alexandria National Cemetery

209 E Shamrock St
Pineville, LA 71360
601-445-4981

Southwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery

1620 Evangeline Road
Jennings, LA 70546
337-246-7094

Alexandria, LA Vet Center

5803 Coliseum Boulevard
Suite D
Alexandria, LA 71303
318-466-4327

Other Military Bases in the Continental United States:

Please review our complete list of Military Bases by State.

 

 

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