MWR Programs Face Big Funding Cuts


Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs could be on the chopping block as Congress considers budget cuts to the Defense Department.

A House subcommittee this week held a hearing on the programs. Representatives from each of the services’ MWR commands gave testimony in defense of the programs, this story reports.

But Rep. Joe Wilson, the chairman of the subcommittee, warned that the programs – which include not just recreation centers, on base concerts and outings but also commissaries and base and post exchanges – could face major cuts as lawmakers decide which is more important: family support or weapons systems.

From this story:

Wilson said he worried that some lawmakers in both parties might favor a "guns vs. gymnasiums" approach, viewing military weaponry, technology and infrastructure as no-cut essentials while seeing programs such as child care, fitness centers, libraries and movie availability as not crucial to the military's mission.

"Some would say it's not important to the military. I disagree," Wilson said. "When you have a happy military family, you have a happy military member."

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey pledged during last year’s Association of the United States Army meeting  that Army leadership would not seek cuts to family support spending, including MWR. But the same cannot be said for Congress.

You know that saying “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” It is situations like these to which that is referring.

In a time that military families are facing unprecedented pressures,  slashing the family support budget is not the answer.

Not only is it a bad idea because it limits vital programs, but it also jeopardizes the military’s ability to keep people in the service (refer back to the “If Mama ain’t happy….” phrase). We’ve talked about this before, and at least one lawmakers seems to understand the potential outcome.

From the story:

In the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., initially offered an amendment to a spending bill to cut $58 billion from the Defense Department, but she withdrew it Tuesday.

Davis said she was concerned that commissaries and exchanges would suffer under the budget ax.

"Some people say 'Let them go to Wal-Mart,' " Davis said. "The concern is, in this push for frugality, that there is a perception among some people that the operation of commissaries and exchanges are something we could do without."

If that happens, Davis said, it could end up hurting the U.S. military in the long run.

"We might not have difficulty in retaining servicemembers," she predicted. "But we might have difficulty in retaining their families."

As a matter of record: Last year the Army alone spent upwards of $8 billion on family support – including housing, Child and Youth Services, MWR and more. The other services also spent sizeable (though smaller) amounts. Story Continues

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