U.S. Army MWR

Summer Budget: Discounts for Military

If you’re in the Army or someone in your immediate Family is, recent government funding cuts and the sequester may tighten up your summer budget this year. This is unfortunate, but don’t worry: service members and their Families have many free or low cost options available for entertainment, recreation, and leisure. You can still have a fulfilling and entertaining summer without hurting your checkbook.

One particular program is perfect for military Families: the National Park Service free annual pass for military members. Anyone in the Army (as well as the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reserve, and National Guard) and their dependents is eligible. Passes are good at all 59 National Parks across twenty seven states, from the smallest in Hot Springs, Arkansas, all the way to Wrangell-Elias, nearly the size of West Virginia.

Natural Arch in state park

The National Parks pass is easy to get: just bring an official military ID to the park entrance or ticketing area and ask for a military pass. It covers your dependents, but also other passengers in your vehicle or three other adults, so your Family won’t have to pay either. American National Parks are stunning in their variety, and whether you want to go for a long hike, go camping, or simply admire the sites, these free passes will help you do it.

Most state parks offer discounts or free passes for active-duty Soldiers as well. Almost every state has some kind of a program, and many states also have free parks. State parks offer many of the same attractions as National Parks, and some of their own, whether it’s kayaking in the Adirondacks near Fort Drum or exploring the Kartchner Caverns near Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Don’t ignore local parks as well – depending where you are, fantastic free camping opportunities may be very close by.

Of course, many installations offer free or low-cost programs of their own through Army MWR. The Outdoor Recreation programs are great ways to build up your skill, stay fit, and enjoy nature with fellow Soldiers. Army MWR offers many other programs as well, even if you aren’t a nature buff. Recreation and leisure programs, like the Concert Tour and the Festival of Arts, are offered regularly nationwide. These programs are either free or low cost. There are many, many more, depending on where you are. Take a look at armymwr.com to find out what programs are available at your garrison. There’s no reason for your summer budget to suffer.

Return to the Summer Budget feature page

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