By Allison Kirschbaum

Military service can come with mental or physical issues that can hinder mobility, especially traveling. However, some programs can help make touring much better, especially for Veterans and those with a disability. Many people don't know about their military travel benefits, and most miss out on these advantages. Aside from the benefits you'll be getting, there are also incredible recreation and military lodging facilities exclusive to Veterans with a service-connected disability that is not accessible to civilians.

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These privileges and benefits were only available for military retirees in the past. However, with the legislation passed in recent years, even disabled Veterans who are not retirees have access to DoD military retiree travel benefits.

Military Retiree Travel Benefits You Should Know

Don't miss out on many military retiree travel benefits you should enjoy. Here are some you should look for based on your disability rating.

Veterans With Service-Connected Disability Rating (0% or More)

Four years ago, the Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act and the Purple Heart of 2018 were enacted. This Act paved the way for all Purple Heart recipients, service-disabled Veterans, registered caregivers, and former prisoners of war to access exchange stores or commissaries and particular MWR facilities on a similar basis as a member of the armed forces having the privilege to retire or retain pay.

You can also visit this fact sheet for more details or FAQs about implementing your military travel benefits.

For Veterans with service-connected disability ratings below 100%, you'll have access to various military recreational facilities, including cottages, resorts, and campgrounds. You will enjoy Morale, Welfare, & Recreation (MWR) privileges. Your military travel benefits include using marinas, golf courses, and outdoor gear rental on bases in the U.S. and its territories.

Lastly, Veterans with disabilities can stay in base lodging provided space is available. Accommodation in a foreign country may be subject to limitations based on international laws and hosting nation agreements. To date, Germany has expanded its access for U.S. Vets, but whether other countries will follow suit remains to be seen.

Below is some helpful information about the facilities you can use for your retired military travel benefits.

  • The Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRCs) are full-scale resorts offering recreational opportunities and local tours. Using your military travel benefits, you will enjoy various restaurants, pools, and a whole load of other amenities at a fraction of the price. Their locations are in the United States: the Hale Koa in Hawaii and Shades of Green in Orlando, Florida.
  • You don't have to travel far to experience military travel benefits if you reside near an army base. You can easily do that at base MWR facilities. Enjoy paddling the local waterways and renting kayaks. There is also an option to spend the day fishing with a pontoon boat.
  • Vets with disabilities can use their military retiree travel benefits to stay at base lodging. However, this is on a space-available basis. Further, base lodging is ideal if you use the base MWR facilities.
  • For Veterans with a service-connected disability of 100%, you can use these two AFRCs: Edelweiss Lodge in Germany and Dragon Hill Lodge in Korea.

Suggested read: Armed Forces Recreation Centers - Exclusive Vacations for Military

ID Requirements for Vets With a Service-Connected Disability Below 100%

To have full access to the services and facilities, you need to present the following:

  • Veteran Health Identification Card showing eligibility (Purple Heart, Former POW, or Service-Connected).
  • VA Health Eligibility forms H623A with VA health care priority group (8E and valid identification).
  • In other areas, pre-registration or background is a must before you will be granted access to facilities. It is advisable to contact the facility or base visitor center first before visiting.

Military Space-A Flights for 100% DAV

With the John S McCain Authorization Act of 2019, Vets with a permanent disability connected to service can fly Space-A. As a result, the 100% DAV and their dependent(s) can fly Space-A as Category 6. With these military travel benefits, you can fly to any destination in U.S. territories, not including foreign countries.

To avail of this benefit, you must present a D.D. Form 2765, D.D. Form 1173, or Next Generation Uniformed Services ID Card. You can also visit the DoD Common Access Card website for more information.

Are You Ready to Use Your Benefits?

Now that you know your military travel benefits, use them. Take advantage of the privileges being offered to service members. Research the location where you are heading to prepare for the activities. Most importantly, share this with any buddy you can think of.

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