(CNN) -- Fort Hood, Texas, is -- for all intents and purposes -- a city. With as many as 30,000 residents, it has all the trappings of an American metropolis: malls, a theater and softball fields. Beautiful subdivisions and as many as nine schools.
But in other ways, Fort Hood is like no American city. It is a transition point for troops who have served overseas, soldiers who have seen the worst that war has to offer and are returning to life at home. It is one of the first stops for U.S. troops heading to war or returning from combat.
The post is constantly in flux these days, with hundreds of troops heading to the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, said U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
Fort Hood is the largest U.S. military installations in the world by size, and on any given day, it can be home to at least 25,000 to 30,000 people, according to an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
The post also houses the families of service members and other civilians. Fort Hood operates a number of programs to help soldiers assimilate to life at home. One such program -- called the Warrior Stress Reset Program -- is "designed to help address those common and normal reactions to war experiences," says a military Web site.
"It is well documented that participation in a major conflict ... has a way of leaving its mark on the psyche of our soldiers," the Web site reads.
The program lasts three weeks and provides counseling and treatment.
Hutchison said the post has a robust support system for families of deployed troops, which would help troops and civilians there handle Thursday's violence.
"The people who are there will surround the families and take care of them, the ones who have had loved ones who were killed," she said.
The Army's 1st Cavalry Division and elements of the 4th Infantry Division, as well as the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 13th Corps Support Command, are based at Fort Hood.
Fort Hood measures about 340 square miles across and is approximately 160 miles south of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, according to GlobalSecurity.org.