The Northwest's military bases are not especially large in number - compared in some other parts of the country - but they are substantial and they are distinct. As a site of political and social culture, they are distinct from whatever is around them, a separate world. It isn't often explored by outsiders.
The death of a 16-year-old girl at Fort Lewis (near Tacoma) has prompted some examination. A piece in the Seattle Times today is well worth the read, as it notes some of the fallout from the case and the larger picture it illuminates.
From the Times: "The incident has shone an unflattering light on the late-night culture at Fort Lewis, which functions like a small city behind its gates. It also has exposed flaws in the post's policies and security, sparking changes that took effect last week, with more changes likely in the works."