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What is MWR?



If a PCS is in your future this summer, you might be thinking about ways you can make new friends at your gaining duty installation. Of course, it’s always tough to resettle, but fortunately, plenty of resources are embedded in installations across the country to help make that process a little simpler.

In addition to the dynamic and interactive events offered by LMH’s Community Service Team, your new duty station is going to have an MWR. But what is MWR, and how can it benefit your family? 

MWR stands for Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. MWR centers are responsible for most activities offered on military installations. So no matter if you’re looking for a family-friendly activity, a weekend getaway, or just looking for more ways to connect with your new installation, MWR has something to offer you and your family. From learning a new hobby to exploring your new installation, MWR has you covered. 

History of MWR

MWR, as military families know it today, has been around for a long time. A really long time, in fact! MWR can trace its roots back to 1895 when the War Department established the Post Exchange. It was decided that a portion of the profits from the PX should go to fund recreational activities for military members and their families. At that time, MWR activities included a combination reading-recreation room, a store, and a restaurant. Then in 1903, Congress provided appropriated funds for the construction, equipment, and maintenance of buildings to be used as schools, libraries, reading rooms, lunchrooms, amusement rooms, and gyms. One year later, Congress appropriated an additional $5,000 for “athletic exercise and sports” as part of the Navy’s budget, and the precedent for federal funding of MWR programs was established. 

Find out more about the history of MWR here

Who is Eligible for MWR?

Effective January 1, 2020, the Fiscal Year (FY) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) expanded the eligibility requirements for MWR programs to include all service-connected disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former Prisoners of War, and primary veteran caregivers. This is also in addition to all active, retired, National Guard and Reserve service members and their families. 

MWR is an inclusive community, and the more people who can find use in its programming, the better the programming becomes. Events are for everyone, including families, children, single soldiers, and retirees. 

Why take advantage of MWR?

It’s no secret that the operation tempo for most of our military families is high. Most service members work really long hours. As spouses attempt to juggle their own careers with the needs of their families, MWR can help bridge that gap. Most activities and services offered by MWR are accessible on the installation, which reduces the headache of travel time or going out in town. 

Even more exciting are the discounts that MWR offers on things that you and your family like to do outside the gates. The MWR office can help you and your family score deep discounts on your favorite events, local attractions, concerns, movies, and more. 

From fun and fitness to learning new skills, MWR has something for everyone. Check out some of the things you might have access to at your new installation.

Bowling facilities: The perfect family activity! Go to have some fun or join a league and sharpen your skills. Most bowling alleys can be rented for parties, too - an inexpensive way to celebrate a birthday or special event. 

Craft and hobby shops: Are you a budding mechanic? At the Auto Skills Center, you can rent stall space and work on your car. Or check your local MWR calendar for classes on woodworking, ceramics, painting classes, and more.

Golf courses: Military installations have some of the nicest golf courses around. And since access is limited to MWR eligible people, the greens are never too crowded! 

Information, Tickets, and Travel: When you’re new to the area, it can feel overwhelming trying to find things to do! MWR’s ITT gives you information about local sights, attractions, and amusements and can assist you with trip planning! 

Libraries: Not only do DoD cardholders have access to their local installation library, but they also have access to the DoD’s entire digital library! Learn new skills, catch up on your reading, and more when you visit your local library. 

Movie theaters: Plan a movie night with your friends or head there with the family to catch Hollywood’s latest releases.

Outdoor and recreation rental centers: Thinking about taking up paddle boarding? Or maybe kayaking? At MWR’s rental centers, you can try the gear before investing in your own.

When you’re new to town, take the guesswork out of finding things to do and making friends. Be sure to attend LMH’s free family events and then head over to your local MWR. Just like LMH’s events, the whole point of MWR is to make the transition to a new installation as smooth as possible. Find out more about your branch’s MWR by visiting one of the links below. 

Armed Forces Travel

Army MWR

Marine Corps MWR

Navy MWR

Related: Looking for activities for your kids this summer? Check out this list of ideas, camps, and events! 

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