Feature Article - March 2008
Find a printable version here

Working With Warriors

Military Fitness and Recreation: Serving Those Who Serve

By Richard Zowie

Doing More with Less

As bases seek to maintain and, when possible, improve their fitness and recreation centers, they must also try to balance things out with the budget they've been given. When restrictions are in order, adjustments need to be made. The programs' organizers work to offer as many quality services as possible.

Emanuel said that, right now, DLI's rec center is required to be open 56 hours a week, but they're able to keep it open 70. If funding cuts for the next fiscal year are in order, they may have to slow things down and creep closer to the required 56 hours, he said.

"Budgets are always a consideration," Swilley said. "While there often are competing priorities for limited resources, providing first-rate Liberty Centers is a top priority for Navy leadership. Program standards have been established for most MWR programs, including Liberty Centers, and commanders typically go out of their way to ensure their Liberty Centers meet or exceed those standards."

Stanfill added that it's important to make the most of the budget allotted.

"Quality of life programs are not funded at the same level as mission requirements, but fitness programs are declared to be mission-essential and receive strong consideration when funding decisions are made," he said. "There's never been a time when there was enough money to do everything. Today's fiscal environment makes it more difficult to provide all the programs and activities, and some programs at state-side installations are now offered on a fee basis. These decisions are made with serious thought given to the impact of potentially losing a program or the effect that charging participants will have on their limited personal budgets, but the Air Force still places a high priority on readiness and quality of life programs and opportunities for the airmen and their families."

Shanaghan said that money—specifically, non-appropriated funds—can be generated from things like golf courses, bowling alleys, RV parks and marinas to provide capital to fill in the other areas as needed.

"Everyone would like more money to do more things, but the reality of a nation at war is that there might be competing priorities for military dollars, particularly as it relates to stateside shore support," he said.

Lloyd added that down in Cuba, being an isolated and remote-duty station that supports the war on terrorism, they have not experienced any issues or restrictions on their budget requirements.

Torres hopes that at NAS Corpus Christi, improvements can be made. "Our facilities could all use a facelift," he said. "We've got a gym that is almost 70 years old, and is still being used daily. Good, modern sports equipment would be well-received."