FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- In 2007, the Army signed the Army Family Covenant, a promise to Soldiers and their Families that the Army's support would be commensurate to the sacrifices Soldiers and their Families make in their service to the nation.

Much of that promise is delivered through quality-of-life programs from Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Long before the Army Family Covenant, and long before the word "Family," was added to Morale, Welfare and Recreation, FMWR, as it is now known, has always been committed to improving the quality of life for Soldiers and their Family members.

FMWR history started on the battlefields of World War I, where behind the lines, Salvation Army sisters and Red Cross volunteers ministered to the needs of Soldiers as the forerunners of today's morale, welfare and recreation specialists.

After the war, funding stopped and morale programs were mothballed. It wasn't until July 1940 that the Morale Division -- later named Special Services -- was established within the Adjutant General's Office.

Between 1946 and 1955, the core recreation programs were established and staffed by a combination of active-duty military and civilians. Until the mid-1980s, it was active duty enlisted Soldiers and officers who held military occupational specialties in Special Services and were assigned at every level of command who made up MWR.

As those occupational specialties were discontinued, civilians continued to operate FMWR programs with military oversight. Special Services was reorganized many names prior to its present configuration.

In November 1984, the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center was established as the headquarters for MWR operations providing oversight and policy support, and also running certain specialty programs such as contracting, financial management, and other services, as well as operating management of the Armed Forces Recreation Centers and other special projects.

The Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command was established Oct. 24, 2006, and has evolved from its early beginnings.

The FMWR philosophy is as follows: Soldiers are entitled to the same quality of life as is afforded the society they are pledged to defend. Keeping an Army ready to fight and win takes more than hard work and training. Soldiers need a balance of work and play. The FMWRC mission is to create and maintain "First Choice" FMWR products and services for America's Army, essential to a ready, self-reliant force.

FMWR means full-service military clubs, championship golf courses, up-to-date and well-equipped bowling centers, varied outdoor recreation programs, professional billeting operations, and exciting special events. FMWR hosts Family Day activities for Basic Combat Training Soldiers during graduation week, purchases fitness and recreational equipment for unit day rooms, lends support to Soldier award programs, and makes continuous financial contributions to Soldier unit funds.

FMWR receives little appropriated funding. It pays for salaries, upgrades, construction and utilities with the money it collects in fees and charges. This is why continued patronage of FMWR facilities is important. Without the community purchasing lunches at the clubs, registering for fitness classes at Andy's Fitness Center, taking families bowling at Century Lanes, and all the other visits made to FMWR facilities, there would be no FMWR. And without FMWR, many of the Soldier programs might not be possible, explained John Keegan, chief, marketing division, FMWR.

The dollars spent on leisure inside the gates of Fort Jackson have allowed FMWR in the past few years to reopen Vanguard Gym, reduce membership fees for Andy's Fitness Center, build the spray park additions at Palmetto Falls Water Park and convert the old Wild Cat Pool to Wild Cat Skate Park.

Improvements at all the fitness centers, tennis courts and the ongoing upgrades at many FMWR facilities were also made possible by customer support of FMWR activities.

By the end of 2011, a new skeet range opened on Golden Arrow Road. Two new child development centers and the SKIES Building opened, as well as a new boundless playground.

After the signing of the Army Family Covenant, enrollment fees were discontinued for Child, Youth and School Services and free fun and educational classes are offered to middle school students and teens through EDGE (Experience, Develop, Grow, and Excel). CYSS also dropped or lowered fees in many other areas.

As FMWR moves forward, the commitment continues.

Page last updated Wed January 4th, 2012 at 00:00