Fort Knox MWR named three-time national accreditation recipient — only agency in DoD
Fort Knox Community Recreation chief Christopher Dent (second from left) stands with four of the nine Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation members who were part of assembling the 75-page submission that earned them a national accreditation for their parks and recreation program for the third time. (Photo Credit: Jenn DeHaan, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. – For 15 years running, Fort Knox has received a national accreditation for its parks and recreation programs, and is now the sole Department of Defense installation to earn the distinction three times in a row.

The National Recreation and Park Association’s Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies has honored the Fort Knox Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program as one of five DoD installations to achieve the CAPRA accreditation. However, it is the only one to successfully maintain that status three consecutive times.

Christopher Dent, FMWR Community Recreation chief, said not only has Fort Knox successfully achieved accreditation for the third time, it was also the first Army installation to do so.

“Our first accreditation was in 2007,” said Dent. “Every five years we have to get reaccredited, and it takes a full team just from the pure volume of material we have to provide.”

Dent said CAPRA looks at numerous facets, to include how the FMWR executes its standard operating procedures, maintenance schedules, budgeting processes, personnel practices and many other operations.

“There are 151 total standards that we have to meet – and we only missed one,” said Dent. “It was a new one they just added, so we were at 99%.”

According to Dent, preparing all the necessary records CAPRA requires so much hard work, nine people within FMWR were tasked with putting everything required together for this year’s reaccreditation.

“It took two or three months for us to sit down as a group and go through and gather all the documentation,” said Dent. “It was over a thousand documents that we had to accumulate and submit.”

Dent explained the accreditation process is divided into 10 chapters of different aspects of operations. Once all portions were assembled, he said the submission was 75 pages of information showing all they’d achieved over the last five years.

“We started in January and had to have the packet submitted by mid-May,” said Dent. “Then, we did a virtual visit with three professionals who reviewed and evaluated all of our documentation.”

Although this is an FMWR accreditation, Dent said obtaining it goes far beyond just his own team. He said multiple other Fort Knox directorates and divisions also contributed to the process.

“We require those garrison partners to help provide information to meet the standards,” said Dent. “Open communication between other departments is one of the biggest keys to this.”

Barr Memorial Library supervisory librarian Robert Steinmacher, who was one of the nine people involved in compiling the necessary documents, pointed out why accreditation is so meaningful.

“I know we do incredible work every day,” said Steinmacher. “This just validates that we’re on par with the best of the best. It’s very reassuring and uplifting.”

Fort Knox Aquatics manager Shane Yates echoed Steinmacher’s belief, explaining that while they always appreciate getting good feedback from the community, being recognized at the national level is a significant acknowledgement.

“Our customers know we deliver on what our mission statement is for MWR: delivering relevant programs and services for the total military Family – quality programs and services,” said Yates. “Having this accreditation backs that up. We are the gold standard.”

Dent said despite the welcome break the team will have until the next evaluation in five years, everyone involved understands why participating is so valuable.

“We at Fort Knox are an advocate to the process,” said Dent. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything right outside of what our own [regulations] are. Getting [CAPRA] to look at us helps us make ourselves better.”

While the team is thankful for the reaccreditation, Dent said that’s not what’s most important to them.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know that it’s the recognition that we’re all worried about,” said Dent. “It’s about serving the Soldiers and families of the Fort Knox community.”