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What the Recruiter Never Told You

Part 14 -- Morale Welfare & Recreation Activities

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Continued from Part 13

Nonappropriated Fund Activities, otherwise known as Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) activities, these used to be a significant benefit. Up until the mid-80s, the services were allowed to use appropriated funds (i.e., taxpayer's money) to support these functions. One used to be able to go into the NCO (Petty Officer) Club and get a beer for 35 cents. A game of bowling cost 30 cents. Child Care cost 50 cents per hour (and the Child Care Centers were open until midnight!).

Then, almost overnight, Congress terminated almost all appropriated fund support. Congress's stated opinion was that most MWR activities should make a profit, or at the very least, should not operate in the red. Congress, in effect, said "If it loses money, then close it down."

Several MWR activities did close down in the years immediately following the change. Many bases which operated four separate clubs (one enlisted, one NCO, one Golf-Course Club, and one officer club), had to close down clubs, or consolidate into "all-ranks clubs."

When Congress said "no appropriated fund support," they meant exactly that. None...zero....zip....MWR activities not only had to make a profit, but they had to reimburse the government for any electricity/water/gas used, or for any maintenance/repair work that might be performed upon their buildings. (Note: There are a few minor exceptions to the "no funds rule," such as libraries, gymnasiums, and other exercise/fitness activities).

There have now been changes made to the law which allow MWR facilities to operate "in the red," as long as the deficit is made up from another NAF function. For example, local commanders can operate the NCO club at a loss, provided they make a sufficient profit in the bowling alley to cover the deficit.

While MWR still offers competitive (and needed!) goods and services, it sure ain't the deal it used to be. Below, I've listed some of the main MWR activities, and the price one can expect to pay in order to use those services. If your particular base charges more or less for such services, please don't bury me in email. I'm shooting for an overall average here, and your particular mileage may vary.

Recreation Centers. Sometimes known as Community Centers or Community Activity Centers, these facilities act as kind of the "hub" around all other activities. Originally, these "Rec Centers" were places that the single G. I. could use to get away from the barracks, maybe watch a little TV, play a little pool, or ping-pong, or even a game of Monopoly. Now, Community Centers offer everything from concert tickets, to tours, to martial arts lessons. One can normally get a five or 10 percent discount on tickets and tours. Cost of various classes and lessons depends upon the duration and frequency, but is usually somewhere between $20.00 and $50.00 per month. If you're planning a special trip to Vegas, or Disney World, or some other well-known attraction, you may wish to visit the Community Center to see if they have discount tickets, before you try paying "at the door."

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