Dear Q&B --
We are traveling across the country this summer and want to camp. Who can use military campgrounds? My father served in World War II, and I'm hoping we can use the military campgrounds because he was a veteran.
-- Happy Camper
The military has a large system of campgrounds and recreation areas. Most, if not all, military bases include some sort of camping area with RV hook-ups and tent spaces. Other bases have set aside recreation areas and rent cabins and other amenities. Military campgrounds can be especially attractive to travelers because they're affordable, offer easy and reliable camping options in very rural areas with few other amenities, and are generally well-kept.
But who can use a military campground? Based on the information you gave me, you do not qualify. Although bases tend to have their own specific rules on this, in general, to use a military campground you must be a military retiree or dependent, a spouse or minor dependent of an active duty service member, a National Guard or Reservist or minor dependent, or a 100-percent service-connected disabled veteran. Surviving family members of service members killed in action who have access to other benefits like healthcare and medical retirees and their families also qualify.
Some bases allow other users such as retired Defense Department civilian workers. Others may allow the guests of ID card holders, or "sponsors," to use the campground. Decisions on whether or not those users are permitted are typically made by the commander at the base in question.
To get specifics on who can use a military campground, give the place you want to use a phone call. It's also worth noting that many campgrounds are completely booked for RVs throughout the summer, so if you do qualify, make reservations well in advance.
-- Team Q&B