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Feature Article - April 2011

Marching Ahead

The Connection Between Recreation & Quality of Life

By Rick Dandes


Military recreation programs have become a key component of physical and emotional therapy for soldiers returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of that, these programs must evolve to keep up with the latest trends and to meet the needs of our marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen.

In the armed services, recreation is highly valued. It's readily understood how important downtime and relaxation are to both military members and their families.

That's why there's a wealth of recreation opportunities available just about everywhere on a military post. Most installations have a variety of activities for soldiers and their families, including everything from sporting activities to outdoor recreation. And, depending on the size of the post, most provide athletic and training facilities that include exercise and weight rooms, saunas and various sports-related courts. Family members may use the centers, with some age restrictions for things such as the use of weight-training machines.

Besides having parks, playgrounds and recreation areas, some larger installations also operate travel camps, hunting areas, shooting ranges, and riding stables and trails. Others have facilities that include ice-skating rinks, hiking trails, go-cart tracks, rappelling, marinas, fishing lakes and adventure activities.

Since 2001, however, multiple deployments have presented military recreation specialists with a new set of challenges.