Chances are you have heard of Morale, Welfare and Recreation, which provides quality-of-life programming for the military community. But you may not be aware of the breadth and depth of its offerings. From fitness and sports to tickets and travel, MWR has something to engage your service member during their free time.
What is Morale, Welfare and Recreation
Being mission-ready requires having downtime to relax, recharge and have fun. That’s why the U.S. military has long offered services to lift morale among service members. In the 1800s, installations housed retail and social outlets known as “Canteen Associations.” Over time, offerings grew to include restaurants, libraries, gymnasiums and more.
Today MWR offers nearly 5,000 leisure and support programs for service members, their families and other eligible personnel. These free or low-cost recreational opportunities include sports, recreation programs, youth activities, golf courses, bowling centers and more.
Your service member has access to MWR offerings whether they are stationed on an installation or off. Look up the MWR program at your service member’s installation for an overview of offerings.
Who can use MWR services and programs?
The following people have full access to MWR services and programs:
- Active-duty service members
- Members of the National Guard and reserves
- Service academy and Merchant Marine cadets
- Retired service members and their families
- Honorably-discharged veterans with a 100% service-connected disability
- Medal of Honor recipients
- Unmarried surviving spouses and orphans of personnel who died on active duty or in retired status, or who were married to the service member for 20 years while they were on active duty
- Department of Defense and Coast Guard civilians stationed outside the United States
MWR recreational programs
Depending on where your service member is stationed, services and activities may include:
- Bowling alleys, golf courses, boating, horseback riding, scuba diving, flying
- Classes in auto repair, woodworking, painting, photography, music and more
- Equipment rental for camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting, skiing and more
- Special programming for single service members ages 18 to 25, including trips, concerts and tours
- Fitness, aquatics and sports programs – and if your service member isn’t near an installation, more than 3,000 YMCAs and private fitness facilities offer military memberships.
MWR outings and vacations
Your service member’s military ID is the pass to a range of free and low-cost adventures.
- Information, Tickets and Travel. This office helps with vacation planning, offers discounted vacation packages and provides low-price tickets to sporting events, concerts and attractions.
- Military lodging. This program is available to help your service member save money on vacation.
- America the Beautiful Pass. Active-duty, National Guard and reservists are eligible for a free annual pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, including national parks.
- Blue Star Museums. Admission to museums across the country is free for service members and their families between Armed Forces Day in May and Labor Day in September.
The MWR Digital Library
Your service member will find a treasure trove of free resources through the MWR Digital Library. In addition to eBooks, audiobooks and magazines, your service member will find the following and much more:
- Ancestry Library unlocks the story of your family through billions of U.S. and international records.
- Kanopy offers a streaming service with more than 30,000 award-winning films and documentaries.
- Mango Languages provides a language-learning program for more than 70 different foreign languages.
- Universal Class offers lifelong learning courses across more than 30 subject areas.
- Artistworks Music Lessons provides access to hundreds of video lessons for a range of musical instruments.
The MWR Digital Library is packed full of offerings for children and teenagers as well, including:
- Tutor.com, which gives kids free access to online tutoring and homework help from live, expert tutors across more than 100 subjects.
- ScienceFlix, which offers more than 50 complete units of study with hands-on science projects, videos and interactive features.
- National Geographic offers issues dating back to 1888. National Geographic Kids and National Geographic: People, Animals, World offers text books, videos, maps and images.
Encourage your service member to visit the MWR Digital Library and browse its extensive offerings.
Your service member works hard. With access to MWR and its many programs and services, relaxing and having fun while off duty is convenient and affordable.