Life in the Military
Things to Do
When service members aren’t working, they have time to relax, socialize and enjoy a balanced life. Duty stations across the world make sure of this, with countless entertainment amenities, recreational services and athletic programs.
On military installations, there’s no shortage of amenities for amusement. Whether it’s community movie theaters that carry the latest films, fully stocked gaming centers, or art and crafts facilities, there’s always something to do and make meaningful connections with other service members.
Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) and nonprofits like the United Service Organizations (USO) also provide service members with hundreds of exclusive shows around the world each year, featuring some of the most popular musicians, comedians, athletes and actors.
Military members can even find ample opportunities for off-base entertainment through discounted tickets to:
- Theme parks
- Sporting events
- Theater arts and concerts
You can expect a wealth of recreation and leisure activities at duty stations around the country. In fact, every Service branch has its own organization dedicated to providing service members with access to facilities, activities and opportunities like:
- Arts and crafts centers
- Alpine skiing
- Bike trails
- Basketball courts
- Baseball fields
- Bowling alleys
- Cabins and campgrounds
- Golf courses
- Hunting areas
- Marinas and boat rentals
- National parks
- Paintball fields
- Picnic and barbecue sites
- Equipment rental centers
- Recreation centers
- Riding stables
- Rock climbing walls
- Skeet and shooting ranges
- Swimming pools
- Sports facilities
- Tennis and racquetball courts
- Whitewater rafting
Military bases are often sprawling locations with natural environments ideal for outdoor recreation. This video explores just a few of these areas and how the Military provides equipment, services and organized events for service members and their families to enjoy.
Learn more about each Service branch’s commitment to morale, wellness and recreation (MWR):Length 1:08 View Transcript
Either every weekend or every other weekend I'm on the water or I'm doing something near the water. At the drop of a hat, I can just throw my kayak in the truck and head down there and go be on the water. on post you can rent kayaks but you can also rent fishing gear you can rent boats. if you don't want to buy your own that it's there to rent. My favorite activities here on posts would probably be the kayaking and the fishing. I'm just looking for anything that will take my bait. MWR is the Morale Welfare and Recreation organization on hosts. Its primary function is the morale and welfare of soldiers and their families. MWR has a lot of tubing trips whitewater rafting kayaking and their trips are always full because people enjoy doing it. My love the outdoors hasn't changed since being in the military, if anything I would say it's enhanced.
In addition to the recreation opportunities listed above, bases provide many amenities and services designed to maximize the fulfillment of families. These include:
- Community pools and splash pads
- Education centers and support services
- Fitness centers and classes
- Internet kiosks
- Parks and playgrounds
- Sports programs
- Spouses’ clubs
- Talent shows
- Youth recreation programs
On-Base Family Recreation
Follow a growing military family as they discuss how on-base amenities and entertaining activities provide them with an enjoyable life.Length :46 View Transcript
Being an active-duty soldier and a full-time mom, it can get very stressful. The military helps us live more comfortably by providing us with plenty of a that we can do with the kids right here on base.
My kids love going to the park, they almost ask every day..."daddy, daddy, can you take us to the park?"
We can go to the skating rink, or to the movies or the bowling alley. When we bring them to the pool there is also a little splashpad.
If i mention anything dealing with fun, I never hear the end of it until I take them.
Our kids are really happy here.
On-Base Family Recreation
For service members who enjoy sports, the Military has its own sports league: Armed Forces Sports. The Armed Forces Sports program includes 25 different sports, including:
- Swimming and more
The program is open to all active-duty personnel and features nine national championships and 16 international championships.
Some military service academies even have Division I sports programs that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Senior Airman Vanessa Powell-Davis and Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Grether make new friends playing intramural sports.Length 3:57 View Transcript
My name is Jose Guevara Cortez and I’m an Air Force staff sergeant, stationed at
Joint Base, San Antonio. I’m looking to find out what life in the military is really
like and how it may be different than what you think. Today I’m going to meet up with
two people who have made sports a big part of their lives. First I meet up on base with
one of my colleagues in the dental field, Vanessa Powell-davis. Vanessa coaches a youth basketball team on the weekends. And from what I hear, she’s got some serious game on the court.
Can you tell me a little bit about your transition, coming from California all the way to San Antonio?
I really like how Lackland is stationed in a big city, in San Antonio. There are so many things to do. Finding sports teams to get on is not hard. I just go into the gym and, you know, if I see people in there, just ask them if they know of any girls’ sports teams.
Sure, yeah. -- that’s how I kind of joined my first base team that I was on.
I know you coached in California. What made you want to start coaching here, in San Antonio?
Yeah. I coach kids grades preschool to about sixth grade. And I teach them the fundamentals of basketball, so shooting, dribbling, passing, things like that -- that I just like how happy the kids get and that I’m able to teach them something that I love to do.
After the game, we head downtown to meet up with Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Grether, also from Joint Base, San Antonio. He and Vanessa have a few things in common, with their love of sports, so I wanted to see how their stories might intersect.
Thanks for meeting Vanessa and I, man. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And you’re in the Army. We’re in the Air Force. Tell us about like what are some of the things that you do.
I get together with some of the guys that I’ve met at the gym and stuff. We meet once a week and play basketball.
What else do you play? Do you play any other sport?
I played flag football for... There’s a San Antonio flag football league here.
OK. Let’s hear...
And one of the guys that I met at the gym introduced me to the league.
Do you guys have post teams, like the Army? Like we have -- where pretty much you can try out for the post team. And they compete against other posts and stuff, around the area.
Oh, yeah. We do. Like the base team. When I got stationed in Japan, they didn’t have a base team. It was an all‑‑ like ‑‑forces league. So we had Marines, Navy, Air Force.
Everybody. And there’s everybody on the team. And we kind of set all that like rivalry aside.
Yeah, like I was telling Vanessa earlier that that’s kind of one of the benefits of, you know, having a sport in your life -- Yeah! that you can kind of make some friends, you know, and just meet up like that and have a good time.
Do you guys -- have you guys played flag football before? Or is this something you guys ever thought about?
I played in eighth grade.
So you got some experience, then.
Yeah, a little bit, when I was faster.
So are you down for a scrimmage tomorrow? I mean...
Yeah, yeah, definitely.
OK. What about you, Jose?
You’re pretty competitive. I’m in. I’m in. Let’s do this.
The next day, we all met up again, this time for some flag football. Joshua brought along some of his Army buddies and I had my squad from the Air Force. We used one of the sports fields located on base that are available for us to use whenever we need them.
I mean, for us, in the Army, man, l‑‑ you know, when you do PT together and then, you know, you do it four or five times a week, and to be able to go out and play some sports and stuff.
Yeah, exactly. -- once in a while kind of -- I think it brings your team together, in a way. A lot of people that I’ve talked to that’s had no ties to the military itself, they think that we’re like, 24/7, soldiers.
And the perception, you know, should be thrown out the window. Us as soldiers, of course, we have to go through training, just like any other establishment. But it might be a little longer than some. But, you know, in the end, we still have our normal life, you can say, on our off-time. My son, he’s only one years old but, you know -- he only says a couple words but touchdown’s one of them. It’s good to have, you know, the family support and stuff.
And the whole like -- just the respect thing, man, when you guys are coming out with usand just giving us the outmost respect.
Yeah, but, I mean, we’re all what we call sister services, you know.
So we’re all in this thing together. It’s just different branches.
After hearing so much from Vanessa and Joshua about playing sports and making friends, it was great to see that come to life on the field tonight, and I’m definitely looking forward to our next pickup game.
Clubs, Organizations & Volunteering
For many of those who serve, being a part of something greater than themselves is at the core of their beliefs. This motivation often extends into their off-duty commitments as well. Whether it’s giving back at animal shelters, participating in community cleanup projects or assisting with charitable events, there’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities for service members and their families in the Military.
“Jamison’s always helping people, so once a week after work he volunteers with a local charity that helps feed the homeless in San Diego. He works with others to make meals and distribute them downtown.”
“Dejanai enjoys volunteering for the Coast Guard’s Ceremonial Honor Guard, where she and fellow service members present the colors (i.e., the flag) at official functions. “It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done since being in the Coast Guard. I decided to volunteer, and it’s given me a lot more confidence in life,” she says.”
Airman 1st Class Abby Roetzel spends her weekends volunteering at a local animal shelter.Length 3:25 View Transcript
My name is Jose Guevara Cortez and I’m an Air Force staff sergeant, stationed at Joint Base, San Antonio. I’m looking to find out what life in the military is really like and how it may be different than what you think. Today I’m going to meet up with Airman First Class Abby Roetzel, a pediatric medical technician who aspires to be a veterinarian.
Instead of meeting up on base, though, Abby told me to come find her here, at the Animal Defense League, where she volunteers on the weekends. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect to see an Air Force airman doing, but the military encourages us to be leaders in our community. And that’s why I can’t wait to check it out.
Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
Welcome to the Animal Defense League.
Do you want to take a look around?
Yeah, please, please.
Show me around.
Oh, thank you.
I think all the dogs in here are under at least 15 pounds. There’s tons more in here.
This is my favorite. His name’s Deputy.
Yeah. Deputy, you live in Texas.
Yeah. How you feel about that, Deputy?
So we’re both in the military. Would you say there’s any similarities in being in the military and doing volunteer work that you do? I definitely think so. You know, it takes a certain person to join the military. That’s just something in itself. But someone who is in the military and volunteers and gives more of their time to people, or animals, I think it really sets yourself above the rest. So how do you find time to volunteer? Well, I only work Monday through Friday. And then I have weekends off. And I get really bored really easily. So I occupy my time very carefully. So on Saturdays or Sundays, I’ll come over here and volunteer for a few hours. This is going to be -- Oh, my goodness! -- kitty Phat Camp. Phat Camp! This is for kitties that like eat too much. Now I see why they call it kitty Phat Camp. Yeah. We try and get them to move around, here, climb up these little steps, as much as we can. But it’s a struggle.
With your job that you have right now and seeing yourself in the future as a veterinarian, what connections do you see with these two things? Well, I learn patient care, basically how to handle patients. I learn... For example, drawing blood on a human is probably a little similar to drawing blood on a dog. Because we all have veins. Simple things like that, that I think I could transfer over to the veterinary side. It’s kind of like a stepping stone.
Now in your experience, would you say that the military has helped you become the person that you need to be to succeed in veterinary school? Without a doubt. In the medical field, I work with a lot of doctors, a lot of providers. They’ve shown me how you need to perform as a leader. I just watch them a lot. And I just take notes on how they act.
And I want to be like that, when I’m in that position. So, Abby, what are some of the different things that you actually do, when you volunteer here? So with the dogs, you socialize them. That’s probably the biggest thing for me. When you see the really timid dogs, really scared dogs, that were maybe abused before and that don’t really like people, just socialize them, giving them the tools they need to be adopted. So what was your favorite thing that you saw today? Without a doubt, kitty Phat Camp.
Because there’s -- I’ve just never heard of anything like that. And I have a cat that is kind of hefty. And she could benefit from some of the exercises or getting some of the food up high. Cute puppies aside, it’s amazing to see what a difference we can make in the community with a few hours of our free time. Abby definitely proved this to me today and I’m inspired to get out there and do something, myself.
Community Holidays & Other Observances
At bases all around the world, holidays are always a reason for community festivities and camaraderie. Whether it’s Fourth of July celebrations, Father’s Day fishing tournaments or traditions unique to the locations of overseas bases, service members come together as a family to mark such occasions.
In addition to celebrations, the Department of Defense recognizes a diverse range of observances aimed at supporting all service members and their families.