The Base Realignment and Closure process of 2005 shut down 24 military installations across the country and consolidated many more.
Fort Bragg grew as a result, adding the U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command.
As base realignments brought thousands of soldiers and their families to the area, Nicole Coschigano took a new job managing an apartment complex in Fayetteville.
“I had never really worked with military people before, and I was fascinated,” she recalled. “I found that they were ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and that kind of blew me away.”
As she got to know her tenants, she came to recognize and respect the sacrifices soldiers make on a regular basis. One soldier returned from deployment early on crutches, saying only that he’d rather be back with his unit.
“I thought it was courageous and honorable that he didn’t complain about breaking his leg,” she said. “I just can’t imagine breaking my leg doing my everyday job.”
The eight years she spent in Fayetteville working with military families changed the way she looked at the world.
“I always liked news and current events, but getting to know these soldiers and their families made me want to know more about the wider world,” said Coschigano. “As I got to know these people, I really wanted to know what was going on in the places where they were deployed, or the places where they potentially could be deployed, so it made me think larger than I had in the past.”
Ft. Bragg Stories is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email email@example.com.