Open Letter on MWR Pricing

Editorial  Summary:

Active duty sailors, marines and soldiers, retired and disabled  are literally being  priced out of many on-base recreational camp sites and activities
by the present management of MWR facilities and ticket outlets.  Many MWR managers are comparing our campground fees to those of the civilian
ones down the road. And we recently paid more for tickets at MWR than at the movie theatre!!

The present full hook-up fees, for example, at Del Mar, Camp Pendleton, of $50.00 per night, $100.00  for a 2 day weekend,  $350.00 per week,  $1500.00 per month are unreasonable.   That’s almost an house mortgage! Again, what is  the objective?  Is it to provide a place for military folks or is it to generate jobs, pay increases, and benefits for the civilian  contractors who now manage the recreation?

Our  military campgrounds are exempt  from, and hence do not pay mortgages and taxes; in fact, the bases have already paid their mortgages with the service and lives of our sailors and soldiers. (Not to mention eminent domain in the early 1900’s to acquire the land!)   So, in essence, how dare these folks compare us to civilians and their
campgrounds and facilities costs..which are incomparable to any civilian installation. In the link to the rest of this article there is a sample letter/email. Please feel free
to use any or all of it –but please start writing to the personnel office which controlsMWR and express your request to lower these fees so even an E4 can spend a
week camping if desired. I started with the Navy as they have the most desirable wintering sites in southern California- San Onofre, Del Mar, Fiddlers Cove, etc on Camp
Pendleton and the NAB (where the Navy Seals Train)..  Here are the emails to write to please:

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Open letter to members of the Military Campgrounds Forum

Dual Issues:  Rising fees at mil campgrounds…and allowing 100% DAV discount

Purpose: to encourage everyone in the military campground family here to write your local MWR, IG, whomever…using this editorial letter as a core if desired.

Objective:  Let’s work to get these fees reduced and universal acceptance of disabled Status….if you email please copy the following three addresses plus any you find in Washington or elsewhere…I have started with the Navy herein.

 

Subject: MWR PRICES OUT OF CONTROL
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CNP Vice Adm. Mark E. Ferguson  (CHNAVPERS)
Honorable Admiral Ferguson, Sir:

A SERIOUS PRICE issue has arisen within MWR the last two years. Active duty sailors, marines and soldiers, retired and disabled are literally being priced out of recreational activities by the present management of MWR facilities and ticket outlets.  (We recently paid MORE at a Liberty q zone ticket outlet than the box office price downtown!!)...

On the west coast, Del Mar, San Onofre and others have recently raised prices of the campgrounds, some to $50 a night..  The stated reason was quote!!-- "we have to
compete with the civilian campgrounds" unquote.. What is the objective of even having these campgrounds if it is not to benefit those for whom they say they are serving;
primarily active duty and retired military personnel? None-the-less that statement made to me does not even make any sense whatsoever..where is the competition?

Commercial campgrounds are profit making enterprises that must buy the land and pay annual taxes, monthly mortgages, and insurance. Even in light of the Budget cutbacks, some things like ammunition and food will not be cut.  I rank MWR recreational facilities right up there with beans, bullets and bombs having seen combat myself….getting to the beach after a firefight and decompressing is soooooo very important; so as in retirement.

Our  military campgrounds are exempt  from, and hence do not pay mortgages and taxes; in fact, the bases have already paid their mortgages with the service and lives of our sailors and soldiers. (Not to mention eminent domain in the early 1900’s to acquire the land!)   So, in essence, how dare these folks compare us to civilians and their
campgrounds and facilities costs..which are incomparable to any civilian installation.

I think a command memo reducing prices to $10 a night ($300 a month) for ALL installations and zero for 100% disabled vets in pretty straight forward…and freeze the
salaries of all civilian personnel as have most federal organizations have done.  We do not need an $150,000 Master of Hotel Science running our campgrounds.

Some, however, for example, Brandon Workman at Fiddlers’ Cove NAB, set a shining example of concern, caring, and flexibility for the soldier and retirees at Fiddler’s Cove, NAB CG Coronado, Ca. Perhaps he would be interested in carrying your orders of reduced fees and increased Navy subsidies for  CONUS from Washington to SoCal  (sorry Brandon!).

Ft Huachuca is the most reasonable of all the bases I have been on…they charge  $300 a month and allow 90 days maximum stays with I believe a 3 month advance first-come-first-served hotel-like reservation system (very fair)…why cannot the Navy follow suit please?  All federal facilities such as the Navy Lodge system work the same way for reservations and also, by the way, have gone rate-crazy as well.

I and my contemporaries which I have polled believe all costs/expenses of running these recreational facility need to be looked as a benefit and costed as such..a sunken/absorbed expense by DoD and not be required to recover operating and maintenance expenses as well.  Hank, Dave, Doug, Jim et al…almost two dozen active and  vets I have spoken with agree.  Next thing DOD will have us paying for the bullets and bombs we use!!

In a similar vain, the civilian police force hired and working at many installations perform a service, clearly, to free up military folks.  They are not required to show a
profit or pay for their way in issuing speeding or other citations. The same should hold for MWR…provide that high quality service to us without the requirement for a profit or self-sustainability.  Same logic. If the US can afford to give billions in aid to Pakistan, Iraq and others….not including our war efforts; it can afford to treat our soldiers and
retirees a LOT BETTER than they do now don’t you think? I calculate that nationwide this is approximately less than the cost of one of our latest fighters and spares ($75
million, and that is a Military Times quote) to put it in another perspective.

The “final insult” is that MWR had over 20 active duty Camp Pendleton Marines policing the San Onofre camp site many many times…and doing repairs…and these E2s
could not even afford to camp there….my gosh I find that juxtaposition actually degrading to our sailors and marines….you can make a difference. And those clerks can
get out and rake the leaves once a week as some of them could really use the exercise.

I should not need to tell you that  the few benefits that  we enjoy are earned benefits.  The active duty military, especially in these days, is most definitely earning all they are
entitled to.  The retired military spent their 20 years or more, doing all the things asked of them so they could look forward to better times spent with family relaxing in a less
stressful environment such as camping on the beach.  We did not anticipate that we would be insulted, denigrated and gouged for the experience. 

The present fees of $50.00 per night, $100.00 for a 2 day weekend,  $350.00 per week, $1500.00 per month are unreasonable.  That’s almost an house mortgage! Again, what is the objective?  Is it to provide a place for military folks or is it to generate jobs, pay increases, and benefits for the civilian contractors who now manage the recreation?

How can an E4,5 or 6 or even 7 go to the beach and camp?  My gosh....let’s get these MWR fees back to ground zero…somewhere around $300 a MONTH for full
facilities will do it…if they have to justify their salaries and benefits via camp fees you know that is very very wrong.

Camp Pendleton campgrounds, for example, have almost doubled their rates and  is taking on the reputation of not being military friendly at all….and I can only speculate
what the younger active duty enlisted are thinking.  Camping is an activity funded with discretionary income and we all know how much of that is laying around for them.  Other things like groceries, gasoline, medical, dental and optical care for their families might be higher on the agenda than camping so they are denied the opportunity.

Several bases we have been to in the military system also honor the Federal  Golden Access Passport  for disabled  Americans which provide a discount for camping.  Again I believe the Navy would be more sensitive to military holding one of these cards.  If the high fees are to be maintained then please consider honoring these  cards for a free stay based on “earning these cards in battle”….The State of California, for example, offers free full hook-up rv, trailer and tent camping to 100% disabled veterans.

There is also collateral financial proof of  what is referred to by economists as the “Laffer Curve”.  Draw an ”X-Y” right angle graph” with the  vertical line for profit with a
horizontal line to the right, for price.  A half circle is drawn above the horizontal line, beginning at the left intersection of the two lines at x and y = 0, the origin. 

Now, profit increases until “ratepayer fatigue” sets in at the top of the half circle.  As the price increases further, profit continues to decrease until finally the price is so high there is no profit because no one wants the product/service at that price.  I do believe that ratepayer fatigue has occurred at the present rates and will only become more evident as rates increase any further.. and since when did the Military have to show a dollar profit…our profit is for all to share:  the peace, honor and stability we bring/brought to these great United States of America. 

Thank you in advance sir for considering our request.