A snow storm for the record books!

My heartfelt thanks to Douglas County, cities, agencies, power companies and everyone else who are working hard to bring life back to normal. Although losing power isn’t on the top of my list of fun things to do, it does offer an opportunity to unplug from technology, and engage in deep thought — primarily, deep thought about what to do this summer.

Thankfully there are many opportunities for veterans and their families to enjoy discounted vacations throughout the United States and around the world. MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) offices, located on most military bases and online, offer a variety of recreational opportunities to service members and veterans. Here are a few online resources to get your started.

One note. I don’t offer this list as an endorsement, but as a list of possible resources. As with any place you spend your money, do your homework.

Army MWR — Primarily a one-stop shop for the active duty service-member, their website, armymwr.com, offers a wealth of information about MWR opportunities on Army bases around the world. From libraries, physical fitness, and community support to arts and crafts, entertainment and dining. What I like most is their travel section, particularly the list of lodging facilities available on Army bases around the world. Seoul, anyone?

Navy MWR — Available at navymwr.org they offer information and services very similar to the Army website. Their travel section has far more RV Parks than the Army site.

Government Vacation Rewards — located at govvacationrewards.com. Requires creating a user account, but has information on a variety of travel opportunities ranging from cruises to whirlwind European tours. The website boasts that it has some of the cheapest prices and offers a price-matching “best value guarantee”. I haven’t used this site myself and would recommend shopping around to guarantee they really are offering the best deals.

Disneyland and Disneyworld — According to their website, each year Disney sets aside a certain number of rooms and park tickets for a discount for active duty military and veterans. Looking to stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel? Visit disneyland.disney.go.com/offers-discounts/military-resort-discount, to read the fine print, or call 714-956-6425 to check availability and make reservations. Just need park tickets? Keep reading.

For something a little closer to home, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (formerly known as Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base) website may have what you’re looking for. Located on the web at jblm.armymwr.com, their website has information about local travel, tickets (including discounted Disneyland Park Hopper passes), adventure programs, hotels, and more.

Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Looking to travel somewhere and see there’s a military base nearby? Consider contacting to local MWR office and seeing whether there’s discounted lodging or travel available during your stay.

There are also a number of sites not affiliated with the military that offer information to the discerning veteran. Military.com, militarybenefits.info, usaa.com (yes, in addition to banking and insurance they also do discount travel and vacation planning), themilitarywallet.com and the list goes on. Again, I’m not offering these as endorsements — just know there are a lot of places looking to provide you a discount while they separate you from your money.

So until the next snow storm hits, get out and see something.

God bless our veterans and God bless America.

Do you have information of interest to Douglas County veterans? Contact John McDonald at jd.mcdonald.jd@gmail.com or 541-580-6178. He is a combat veteran with more than 18 years of military service and serves in the Oregon National Guard. He is also a member of the Douglas County Veterans Forum, and the Douglas County Veterans Advisory Committee.

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