Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Armed Forces Recreation Services: Our Hallowed Ground Raison D'etre

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Armed Forces Recreation Services: Our Hallowed Ground Raison D'etre

Article excerpt

It is possible to identify at least two different orientations or philosophical positions that stem from the Armed Forces leisure value system in the present post-cold war era. These are: one, the traditional "quality of life" approach which sees MWR recreation and club services chiefly as amenities without significant mission impact, but, nonetheless, deserving of service branch and Department of Defense support; and two, the "business-like" marketing approach, which dominates our professional management thinking and command dialogues today and which urges that all recreation services programs be viewed largely as a commodity to be merchandised, with a minimum of social and mission support goals or constraints.

"Readiness is the cornerstone of this administration. A ready-to-fight force is linked intrinsically to the morale, sense of well-being, commitment and pride in the mission of each Service and family member. Our Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs play a direct role in developing and maintaining these characteristics within our force and are more important than ever during this time of transition, when profound changes are taking place that are having a powerful impact on Service members and their families. Now, more than at any time in the past, our personnel need to sense that we value their contributions and sacrifices."

"The primary purpose of our MWR programs is to enhance military readiness by promoting mental and physical fitness as well as esprit de corps and personal development. The qualities are critical to having a ready-to-fight force composed of well-balanced individuals."

Both of the above statements were made by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Personnel Support, Families and Education Carolyn H. Becraft in hearings before the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Panel, Readiness Subcommittee, House Committee on Armed Services on Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs, March 1, 1994. Ms. Becraft made practically the same comments to 450 members of the Armed Forces Recreation Society at its Professional Training Institute held in conjunction with the 1994 Congress for Parks and Recreation in Minneapolis this past October. …

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