Since Rebecca and I transitioned from our old life to our new one, my military retiree/veteran status has proven extremely beneficial. Back when I enlisted in the Navy, over twenty-eight years ago, I had no idea about the different types of benefits that would be available to me after I left active duty. Now retired, and embarking on a new chapter of life, it turns out those benefits are the perfect complement to our new traveling lifestyle.
The United States military has numerous cheap RV sites in locations across the United States, and many of them are situated in popular tourist destinations. These campsites are available to Active Duty Military, Retired Military, DOD Civilians/Retirees, 100% Disabled Veterans, and their family members. The State and National Parks also provide various discounts to veterans and their family members. These benefits and discounts are a tremendous help with our travel expenses.
Currently, Rebecca and I are camped at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. Our daily rate is $16.00 and this includes water, electricity, sewer, and cable. Within just a short walk of our campsite is the beach, golf course, trails, and dog parks. With a short drive we can be at the commissary, exchange, gym, and much more. By visiting militarycampgrounds.us you’ll be able to view locations across the United States, as well as read reviews on sites, updates on accommodations, and much more. Once you find a location of interest, I would recommend calling well ahead of time to ensure availability. Many of the RV sites located in warmer climates are booked a year in advance for the months of October through May. During this peak season, RV’ers need to be prepared to dry camp if all the full hookup sites are taken. The daily rate increases a couple of dollars during this time as well. Make sure you carefully read the information provided online for each location, so there are no surprises when you arrive. For those that travel with pets, bring copies of your furry family member’s shot records!
The National Parks Service (NPS) offers free Annual Passes to all current United States military members and their families. These passes allow the holders free access to, and use of, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), NPS, Reclamation, United States Department of Agriculture – Forest Service (USDA-FS), and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees for day use.
Because I’m retired, I applied for the Access Pass, which is a lifetime pass for citizens or permanent residents of the United States who have a permanent disability, regardless of age. This pass offers the same benefits as the Annual Pass, but also provides a 50% discount for the pass owner on some expanded amenity fees such as camping (excluding hookups), boat launching, etc. Since the Access pass didn’t specify the percentage of disability, I completed the application, attached my Department of Veterans Affairs disability letter, and mailed it to the required address. Be patient, because my application took approximately five months to process. For a while there I thought it was denied. I was delighted when my Access Pass arrived in the mail, and it was worth the wait and the $10 processing fee.
Many states also provide discounts to Military Veterans with and without disabilities. The University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Study provides a list of states and their benefits. Some of the states require that you’re a resident, but if you review the entire list you’ll be sure to find somewhere that honors your veteran status. While binging on YouTube one night, I came across a guy who talked about veteran benefits at the Oregon State Parks. I can’t remember the YouTuber’s name, but I wish I could because the information he shared was huge. The state of Oregon offers veterans with disabilities a Special Access Pass that allows the card holder to camp for free in a tent, RV, or standard horse camp site for ten nights in a thirty-day period. I completed the form, attached my Department of Veterans Affairs disability letter, and mailed it to the required address. In less than a month my Oregon State Park Special Access Pass arrived in the mail, and it’s valid for five years.
There are numerous benefits available for all service members and employees of the United States Military. I’m sure there’s more information out there on this topic and hope that readers will share their knowledge. To the men and women who serve, or have served, in or with the United States military, I thank you for your service and hope you get out there and enjoy our beautiful country.
Thanks for reading! Please don’t forget to share this post on your social media and subscribe to our blog before leaving the site. Sharing and subscribing is a way to support our content, which makes it relevant and helps to get it seen by more people. We love the work we do, but we can’t do it without you! Until next time…