Joining the Military Community – The Essentials

A grocery store employee speaks with a group of new service members in the meat department.

Now that you’ve got the basics of military life covered, it’s time to connect with your new military community. Unlock the discounts your military ID brings, participate in local events and know where to turn for solutions when you’re faced with new challenges – like Military OneSource, anytime and anywhere you need support.

Learn about all the privileges your military ID brings.

Your military ID grants you reduced rates to exclusive recreation services that help you live military life to the fullest without emptying your wallet. Service members and their families get discounts on hotels, car rentals, theme park tickets and vacation packages. Plus, you can score savings on sporting events, brewery tours, movie tickets and more.

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Connect with your local morale, welfare and recreation office.

The Department of Defense and the military services’ morale, welfare and recreation programs provide services and activities for the military community during peacetime, readiness contingencies and deployments.

You can connect to all kinds of fun programs and activities, as well as take advantage of its digital library containing lots of do-it-yourself manuals and helpful resources. Whether you’re looking to work on a small engine or learn about investing, you’ll find what you need to get started right here.

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Stretch your take-home pay with free financial guidance and other services.

Financial security at home allows all service members to be more focused and mission-ready, which is why the military offers so many free resources and services to help you make the most of your monthly pay.

Finally, you can work to cut up your credit cards, afford that car you’ve long had your eye on – or even make a down payment on your first home.

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Find assistance when you need it most.

Emergencies and challenges can appear without warning for anyone. But, the military community is especially well-equipped to help you handle anything life might throw at you.

In addition to the information and support offered through your command, you have access to a wide range of services. This includes free legal assistance, parenting support, moving coordination and plenty more programs designed just for service members.

You can even vent to a licensed counselor whenever the stress of military life gets too much – without your commander, unit or family members knowing you reached out.

Remember: You’ve got a network of people whose sole goal is to help you succeed. Take advantage of it.

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I never realized that service members have such a fantastic resource [like Military OneSource] available to them. I will be sure to let all of my subordinate soldiers know about this invaluable resource and will definitely look into your other services.


10 Attributes for a Successful Job Search

Leader of team shouting, showing confidence

As a service member, you’ve already got a strong skill set to make you an asset in the workplace. Many of those same skills can be applied in finding the right job in the first place. Here are ten skills to master when searching and interviewing for a position.

1. Flexibility — In today’s market, it’s important to show that you are willing to adjust your schedule or expectations to the demands of a job and compromise to get a task done. During your interview, you’ll want to highlight times when you’ve gone above and beyond in previous roles.

2. Technical literacy — These days, most jobs require some basic computer and tech knowledge. Knowing how to put together a spreadsheet or quick presentation will do wonders for your resume. If you feel like you need to bring your skills up to speed, explore learning opportunities around you – for example, courses at your community college, online training from MySECO and resources at the MWR Digital Library. Be sure to communicate any experience you have with software programs.

3. Communication skills — It’s essential that you speak and write effectively in the workplace. Therefore, your communication during an interview is extremely important. Be prepared for questions, and most importantly, listen attentively to your interviewer.

4. Multitasking abilities — Employers use keywords like “fast-paced” and “deadline-driven” because they are looking for employees who can multitask with ease. You’ll want to demonstrate to an employer that you can manage a variety of tasks at the same time, with limited supervision.

5. Creativity — Even if the job you’re after is not in a creative field, remember that an employer wants to hire someone who offers a fresh perspective. The creative solution that you bring to a job could potentially expedite an employer’s process, improve a service offered, and make you a more appealing potential hire. Provide examples of your creative solutions.

6. Problem-solving skills — Every company has problems that need to be solved, and that’s where an employee like you comes in. Perhaps you can improve their customer service, efficiency, sales or public relations. You’ll need to be able to analyze a problem and then use critical thinking to solve it. A fantastic way to highlight your skills during a job interview is to provide examples of problems you’ve effectively solved.

7. Interpersonal abilities — Almost every job out there requires you to work with people so employers want to be sure that you can play nicely with others. During an interview, highlight your excellent teamwork skills, perhaps by relaying a time when you helped to alleviate a team conflict.

8. Strong work ethic — Employers love employees who show up on time or even early. They appreciate those who are willing to go the extra mile. If you do excellent work and consider yourself productive, highlight that fact, especially if you have examples of times when you went above and beyond what was expected of you.

9. Organizational skills — There’s simply no better time to demonstrate these skills than during a job interview. Come with extra copies of your resume, cover letter, job application, portfolio of past work and business cards. Be sure to proofread all your documents. Show up early and prepared with answers to common interview questions. Do a little research and come up with a few questions for your potential employer. You’ll usually get the chance to ask questions at the end of an interview, so demonstrate your interest and professional mindset by having a few pointed questions on hand.

10. Self-confidence — When it comes down to it, a job interview is an opportunity to sell yourself. Do whatever you need to do to boost your confidence and present yourself professionally: dress nicely and appropriately, be prompt, make eye contact, and be personable. The best way to make an employer believe in you is to believe in yourself.

As you search for a job, it’s crucial for you to identify your transferable skills, incorporate them into your resume, and highlight them in your job interview. As a service member, you have all the skills on this list already, and more; you just have to demonstrate those assets to a future employer.

Explore Your Base and Beyond with MilitaryINSTALLATIONS

The Annual Air Force Installation and Mission Support Industry Day held at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

You have a permanent change of station coming up or you’ve just arrived at your new duty station. You may want to learn about activities on your installation and schools in the community. You may be looking for check-in procedures, child care, a veterinarian or other useful information. MilitaryINSTALLATIONS is the place to get answers.

MilitaryINSTALLATIONS is an online information directory for military installations worldwide. The website provides contact information for many of your installation’s programs, services and more. You can search for information by installation, program or service, or by state. Check out MilitaryINSTALLATIONS prior to your move for key information about the installation programs, services and resources that are available to assist you in your move and in your new community.

How to use MilitaryINSTALLATIONS

MilitaryINSTALLATIONS has three main categories – military installations, state resources, and programs and services – so it’s easy to search for what you need to know.

Military installations

Select “Military installation” from the drop-down menu on the homepage. Type in the name of an installation or click “View all installations” below the menu for a complete list. Each installation’s page offers a wide selection of contacts, programs and:

  • An overview of the installation’s mission and resources. For a deeper dive, click “View the in-depth overview.”
  • An installation website, photos and a map showing the installation and surrounding community.
  • A customizable installation directory. Create and download your own booklet of key resources and contacts for easy reference.
  • Local community information. This link takes you to the “Neighborhood Navigator,” where you can build detailed reports on community information, school information, nearby establishments and home values for 30,000 communities nationwide.

State resources

Select “State resources” from the homepage drop-down menu. Type in a state name or click “View All State Resources” below the menu to find the state you want. In this section, you’ll discover:

  • A list of state and federal resources for military members.
  • Links to community and military resources, such as chambers of commerce and military family programs.
  • Local community information. This link takes you to the “Neighborhood Navigator,” where you can build detailed reports on community information, school information, nearby establishments and home values for 30,000 communities nationwide.

Programs and services

Select “Program or service” from the homepage drop-down menu to find contact information for programs and services on an installation. Follow these steps to do a search:

  • Type in the name of a program/service you’re looking for or click the small grid to the right of the search bar for an alphabetical list.
  • Pick a program category, such as Adult Education Centers or Veterinary Services.
  • Select an installation or ZIP code, then click search. The search will pull up all local contact information in your area, both on- and off-installation.

Programs and services vary by location, but here are some you can look for:

  • Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, Enrollment or Family Support
  • Family Advocacy Program
  • Legal Services/JAG
  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation, or MWR
  • School Liaison Office/Community Schools

Other Moving Resources

Looking for help with your next PCS move? Plan My Move and help you get organized and figure out next steps.

Go to for additional moving resources.

Find what you need? Now plan your next move.

From the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS homepage, you can also access Plan My Move, an online tool that helps you create a custom checklist for your move. It features information about the tasks you need to complete and how to get them done. Your checklist tailors to the unique needs of you and your family.

If you have any questions about using MilitaryINSTALLATIONS or any other part of your MilLife, contact Military OneSource directly to find the military and government resources you need.

Helping Family Members With Special Needs Meet Their Fitness Goals

Men in wheelchairs playing basketball

Getting in shape, eating better and exercising regularly helps us lower stress, improve self-esteem and our general well-being. Individuals with special needs share these same goals and can achieve their health and fitness goals with the help of an adaptive fitness and nutrition plan. Here are some tips to help family members with a disability meet their fitness goals:

  • Meet with a doctor or health care professional to develop a program that combines safety considerations with realistic goals. Fitness comes in all forms, and a doctor can recommend modifications for physical activities and traditional exercises to make activities more inclusive. Always follow up on a regular basis with any suggestions or concerns or to adjust the program if necessary.
  • Eat a healthy diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has useful information and motivational messages to keep the whole family on the path to healthy eating. If your family member has special dietary restrictions, coordinate with the doctor or nutritionist to develop a plan. The Food and Drug Administration’s “Food Allergies: What You Need to Know” can help you identify common food allergies, learn the symptoms of an allergic reaction and understand food labels to avoid potential allergens.

Take advantage of the tools and resources to track progress to achieve fitness goals.

Morale, Welfare and Recreation Summer Reading Program

Mother and son at library

Current as of May 25, 2021

Reading jumpstarts the imagination. It can open doors to new places and points of view. Gaining access to reading programs for children, teens and adults has never been easier.

How does reading color your world? Let’s count the ways. During the summer months, the Department of Defense Morale, Welfare and Recreation Libraries Summer Reading Program is:

2021 DOD MWR Libraries Summer Reading Program

The 2021 DOD MWR Libraries Summer Reading Program has ended. Check back here next spring for more information on how to join the 2022 program.

  1. A space for singles to connect over great books and discussions (virtually or in person)
  2. A free education for almost any topic you want to learn about
  3. A way to save money on auto repairs, crafts and do-it-yourself projects
  4. Another reason for the entire family to bond through the shared experience of a story
  5. A safe place to explore your world and feed your imagination
  6. An escape from your everyday surroundings
  7. Your access to free activities that encourage and support the love of reading (for all ages)
  8. Your path for earning incentives by reaching reading and activity goals

Enroll in this year’s program below and take some time to de-stress and find joy in reading. Explore a book for your own pleasure or to fill some down time in between activities. Enjoy your pages inside or outside at the park. Participate in a book club, which is a great way to meet new people. Set time as a family to read and discover together.

Why the summer reading program?

MWR develops many different enrichment programs to support force readiness and the military community. The mission of the DOD MWR Libraries Summer Reading Program is to help families bridge the summer learning gap while inspiring literacy and lifelong learning for all ages. The benefits of summer reading are clear:

  • Students who participate in the library summer reading programs score higher on reading achievements tests.
  • Students who read often are higher achievers than students who seldom read.
  • Skillful reading is one of the most important habits that leads to a successful academic career and a happy, productive life.

The DOD MWR Libraries Summer Reading Program may look a little different this year. If your local library is not yet open due to coronavirus disease 2019 restrictions or you are not near an installation library, don’t worry, you can participate virtually.

Adults and children can join in and record summer reading minutes from home. Remember to log those hours so you can receive incentives and prizes such as gift cards from the weekly drawings. Read books from your home bookshelf or an e-book or audiobook you check out for free from the MWR Digital Library.

Get more out of your summer

This summer, let reading color your world and guide you to:

  • Be creative. Reading is an adventure of the imagination. It can also help you unplug and unwind from your daily stressors.
  • Try new things. Read a new-to-you genre, such as science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, biography, thriller or mystery. Learn a new skill, hobby, language or craft.
  • Explore art. When you open a book, you can be anywhere you want — no passport needed. View artists’ work from across the globe without leaving your room.
  • Find beauty in diversity. Read a memoir or biography to step into another person’s shoes and gain new perspective on life or learn about a different culture or religion.

Enroll — it’s free and easy

To get started, find your installation library and register as an individual or as a family. Keep in mind that the program timeframes vary from library to library, so sign up as soon as possible to get the most out of the program. You can also contact your local installation library to learn more.

Your books are free, and portable year-round

Make reading a year-long habit. Just because summer is over doesn’t mean the adventures have to end.

DOD MWR Libraries offer much more than aisles of books. Service members and families have access to e-books, audiobooks and more via the MWR Digital Library. All you need is your Military OneSource account to begin browsing. Create an account.

Dive into a genre that interests you — or try them all. Looking for ways to unwind? Use the MWR Digital Library to pick out an audiobook. The digital library service is a great resource for military families without access to an installation library.

MWR Digital Library services are also available through your military service:

Enjoying National Parks as a Military Family

Two women hiking in a park

There’s something for almost everyone in our national parks. Follow these travel tips to plan your next great national park adventure:

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a sit-and-watch-the-world-roll-by kind of person, there’s a national park vacation right for you.

Enjoy an outdoor adventure on a budget

It costs next to nothing to discover nature and spend quality time with your family, so pick a park, pack up your car and hit the road. Here are a few travel tips as you plan your next vacation to one of the country’s 417 national parks or areas:

  • Find a park: With fields and forests, canyons and coastline, America’s national parks have something for every kind of nature lover. You can search for parks by name, location, activity or topic at the National Park Service website.
  • Visit the park’s website: Once you’ve picked a park, you can download all you need to know about hours, directions, activities and fees. While most parks don’t charge a fee, military families — active, reserve and those medically discharged — qualify for a no-cost annual pass. Many parks issue passes onsite, or you can plan your visit to a park during one of the six fee-free entrance periods.
  • Pick your activities: National parks offer exciting activities for all ages. If you have children, check out the Junior Ranger events and programs. Remember, you can search for activities everyone in your family can enjoy. You can also find wheelchair-accessible activities and trails.
  • Contact the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program: Don’t forget to contact Morale, Welfare and Recreation on your installation for lodging discounts and options. Also see what equipment you can rent before you head out on your adventure. Whether you need a kayak, skis and snow boots, or you want to rent a boat, the program has a lot of gear available to rent. Your Information, Tickets and Travel office can also help you score majorly discounted tickets to nearby attractions and activities outside the parks too.
  • Play safely: Always follow the rules and warning signs at each park. Sturdy looking rocks may not be as solid as you think. If there is a sign warning you to stay off, be alert and follow the rules. You don’t want your trip to end in an emergency room.

With free passes, discounted outdoor gear and tons of activities, you can spend quality time with your family and explore the country’s national parks. Get free, year-round access to national parks and other federal recreation spots with the military pass.

Getting Settled in the Military – The Essentials

U.S. Army Soldiers conduct their two-mile run during the Army Physical Fitness Test

Considering military enlistment? Just graduated from basic training? Congratulations, and welcome to the armed forces – and a new home, new rules and new routines.

Get up to speed on your new military life and community. With your military enlistment, Military OneSource stands ready to connect you to the lay of the land, along with information, resources and benefits you’ll need to launch into your new military life.

Here are the essentials to get you started.

Put your best foot forward for boot camp.

Drill Sargeant on Rope

When it comes to basic training with any service, you’ve got to pack the right stuff and prepare yourself mentally and physically for what’s ahead. Here’s what you need to know.

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Here’s how military housing and health care work.

Welcome to your first assignment – now it’s time to understand room and board, along with the military health care program, TRICARE.

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Take advantage of your installation’s commissaries, exchanges, recreation services and more.

Installations offer you more than just barracks and mess halls. In fact, most military installations have a lot of affordable resources for service members and their families, like deeply discounted grocery and department stores, called “commissaries” and “exchanges.”

You’ll also find libraries, golf courses, recreation areas and special events – many available on-base for free or at greatly reduced prices.

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Get paid – and make the money work for you.

Every month, you’ll get your Leave and Earnings Statement – a form that tells you how much you got paid and where that money went (besides your bank account).

There’s lots of different types of pay and tax-free allowances you can earn during your service, and the military’s retirement savings program can set you up for life. Our free financial consultants can help you figure out your finances – from paying down that credit card debt to putting a down payment on a car, and even free tax help.

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Military OneSource is the best military service — helps a soldier out a lot, especially an enlisted soldier like myself! Thankful for every service — translation, health care info, tax issues and more.


Libraries – The Essentials

Woman looking at books in library

Libraries house so much more than books. They are a wonderful resource for professional development and learning. They are also great for finding after-school activities for the kids or researching tutors. You an even learn to tackle home improvement projects and organize events for the whole family. Access these resources, and more, 24/7 with the morale, welfare and recreation Digital Library.

Here are just a few resources available through your local or digital library.

Step up your career.

With the research tools available at your local library or online resources, you can:

  • Get resume help
  • Find examples of cover letters
  • Look up new professional fields

Prepare for your future.

If you are working toward a vocational certificate or a college entrance exam, you can:

  • Use the library’s free practice tests for college or vocational programs
  • Sharpen your test-taking skills with study guides

Get help with homework.

The MWR Digital Library is great tool for homework help for grade-schoolers. It provides resources that can help teens with research projects and other school assignments.

Find after-school activities.

Keep your kids (of all ages) engaged after school courtesy of the library. They can:

  • Check out a fun e-book, movie or favorite music on vinyl
  • Attend reading hours with local authors and playgroups
  • Choose an online magazine to feed their interests from several databases

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Tickets & Tours – The Essentials

Service members swimming in pool

Whether you want to take your family to a ball game, spend a day at the museum or plan a full vacation with travel and lodging, your local Information, Tickets and Travel office provides one-stop shopping for savings on special events, area attractions, hotel reservations and cruise bookings.

The ITT office can help you with:

Special events

Head to ITT for tickets to local attractions, like sporting events, concerts, movies, zoos and historical events. Take your kids on a day trip to a nearby city. Bond with your family over a campfire at one of the camping and recreation facilities in the U.S. for service members listed in the resource Best Kept Secrets: Joint Services Campgrounds and Facilities.

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Area attractions

Hike, climb, ski, surf, stargaze or just relax at one of the national parks and national wildlife refuges you can access for free with your America the Beautiful pass. Or soak up some history, science or culture for free between Memorial Day and Labor Day, courtesy of the Blue Star Museums initiative.

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Travel services

ITT personnel are certified travel agents who can give service members and their families exclusive offers, personalized service, trip planning assistance and destination-specific information. Visit the ITT office on your installation to get special, reduced rates for all military-friendly attractions, including Disney, SeaWorld® and other theme parks and attractions.

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