Military Benefits: Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR)

The vision of the MWR Benefits is to create and be a team of professionals who provide soldiers and their families excellent quality programs and services aimed to boost morale and resiliency, while strengthening our troops and those who support them. The Family and MWR staff at the headquarters is made up of more than 500 professionals who have made it their goal to support and assist service members and their families in every possible manner. The workforce worldwide is also supported by the headquarters, over 33,000 jobs are created by the recreation activities that are offered to the troops as part of their benefit package.

The MWR was officially organized in the early 20th century but prior to that, numerous civilians offered meals, laundry, clothing and trading posts for the men who served their country. When the Post Exchange or “PX” was created in 1895 and it was decided that the profits from those businesses would go to fund recreational activities for the troops and their families. The U.S. Army states it “…is committed to the well-being of the community of people who serve and stand ready to defend the nation, to enhance the lives of Soldiers, their families, civilian employees, and military retirees.”

Why take advantage of MWR?

Most soldiers work long hours and the thought of getting ready to go out isn’t a pleasant one. MWR benefits offer an alternative to traveling and making reservations off of base. Most of the activities and services that the MWR offers require very little travel time, they are generally located on base and easily accessible to anyone with a military ID. Going to a movie on post is an easy treat for those of us that have very little time for themselves.

The entertainment activities that are offered are also offered at a discounted price making them even more appealing to the military family budget. Weekend events for children are also frequently attended. The MWR is here to help everyone in their personal lives succeed as much as the servicemembers have helped the United States Armed Forces succeed.

As an Army wife I appreciated having free events to go to on post during the weekend. They are good for meeting other spouses with similar backgrounds as yourself. No one will be able to understand your journey like a fellow military spouse. Movies, Bowling, and fitness centers are a few options of MWR events that are open almost daily and that are most frequently used by soldiers and their families. Sometimes I feel like we live in a strict routine with very little free time so having options such as these and even more help me schedule fun time into our busy schedule and greatly improve our quality of life.

If you’re new in town looking into the MWR events in your area would be the first place to start looking for new friends. Pick an event that catches your interest and get going. Moving around the world to serve your country is hard enough, the main point of MWR is to make that transition as smooth and enjoyable as possible, so enjoy the benefits you’ve worked so hard for, you’ve earned it!

Who is Eligible for MWR?

Any active, retired, National Guard or reservist and their families are welcome to take part in the activities that your base has to offer, and are encouraged to do so. The more people that can find some use for the benefits, the greater the chance of more benefits being offered to your location in the future. There are events catered to everyone, families, children, and single soldiers. The MWR isn’t all fun, it offers valuable life skills to soldiers who need a little help in certain areas of their lives. Transitioning from combat back to home can be rough and the MWR makes everything as easy as possible. Soldiers who are currently serving overseas get the most out of these programs. One of the most useful and entertaining things that can be sent to the troops come from one of the best benefits of the MWR, libraries.

Effective January 1, 2020, the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act expanded the pool of eligible exchange, commissary shoppers to include all service-connected disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and primary veteran caregivers. The benefit will also extend to MWR “revenue generating facilities. Find out more about the expanded on-base commissary & exchange privileges for veterans and caregivers.

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