Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Military readers set us straight about eligibility at military campgrounds

Military rules have changed and expanded, but not for all DD-214 holders. Last week in our Campground Crowding column I included an email from one of our readers, Stephen W., about a change in military rules that allows more people to camp in the military campgrounds.

DD-214 email

Here’s Stephen W.’s comment that we published: “As retired military, we have started using military campgrounds as an alternative to the more expensive private campgrounds. Since DOD changed their access rules, ANYONE who has a DD-214 now has access to DOD/Military facilities. Hopefully, with the slowdown in RV sales and more people giving up the RV lifestyle, fewer people will RV, and campground prices will decrease.”

That email caused a lot of confusion and excitement among our military readers, many of whom were honorably discharged veterans but not retired. Our very knowledgeable readers responded. Comments and emails flowed.

Does not allow for just anyone with DD-214…

Yes, rules have changed and expanded to allow a select few more camping privileges, but it does not allow for just ANYONE (i.e., everyone) with a DD-214 to camp at military campgrounds. Even then, the final decision is up to the base commander. I deeply apologize for the confusion, particularly for the dashed hopes of those who served and spent a lot of time researching, too.

Updated rules

According to MilitaryCamprounds.US. These are the updated rules:

”Active duty, retired military, and 100% DAV were the primary users that were authorized to utilize MWR facilities (including campgrounds). However, this all changes soon. The Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018 became law in August 2018. This bill will now allow the following veterans use of commissary and exchange stores, and MWR facilities (including campgrounds):

  • Veterans Awarded the Purple Heart
  • Veterans Who Are Medal of Honor Recipients (already authorized)
  • Veterans Who Are Former Prisoners of War
  • Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities
  • Caregivers of Veterans”

Department of Defense

Below is a copy of DOD Instruction 1015.10, Enclosure 3.2.1, which lists the unlimited use of MWR Programs. It is dated July 6, 2009 and does not include the updated rules above.


Below is a copy of DOD Instruction 1015.10, Enclosure 3.2.2, which lists limited use of MWR Programs:


Charts courtesy of Militarycampgrounds.us

Each branch of service has adopted its own rules based on the Defense Department rules. They can be found on the Military Campgrounds website.

These seem to be the most complete and up-to-date lists available on current military eligibility: US Military campgrounds and military parks. Another source is Veteran.com Expanded Eligibility and also Veteran.com Military Campgrounds & RV parks.

I am still finding conflicting information on disability requirements. Most have said 100% and other sites just note service-related disability. All confirm military retired and families.

Comments and emails

These are a few of the numerous, helpful comments we received:

Ken: “Having a DD-214 does not entitle you to use the U.S. Military campgrounds. If you served 3 years and just have a DD-214, you need to take it up with the local commander of the base.”

“NOTE: DD-214 does not guarantee you access to military ‘FamCamps.’ Each installation has a commander that makes the decision of who can enter the base and what priority they have in using facilities. Active duty military (almost) always have priority. Some bases may even ask you to leave if you are not AD and a family PCSing in (Permanent change of station or moving to) requests a space. And this is as it should be.

“Many are FCFS [first-come, first-served] (except for AD) so for those I don’t bother. I’m not going to get off the freeway/highway, drive through traffic/town to arrive and discover there isn’t a space and have to turn around and try to find someplace else.”

Dave P.:
“I think Stephen W. has it a bit incomplete. The ‘new rules’ (adopted in 2018, implemented in 2020) expanded access to commissary, exchange, and MWR for veterans with documented service-connected disabilities.”

“From everyone I have been able to determine, the DD-214 is NOT the magic ticket to accessing military campgrounds. However, the new rules would allow those with a VHIC card because those added include those with service-connected injuries/disabilities and the VHIC card gives them access to military health facilities.

“One little-known access trick that some may not realize is that many military campgrounds allow sponsorship. When we traveled with friends last summer, we stayed at two different campgrounds where we sponsored our friends. There is some form-filling, brief inspection, and a bit of red tape. And the rules for them differ: some are allowed to come and go on base with just their temporary pass while others require guests to be with their sponsors when coming/going.

“As noted by other readers: each installation has its own rules and the current commander decides who gets in.”

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Robbie D.:
“Yeah, I would like clarification on this too. Would be nice if you just needed a DD-214 to get on a Base and camp there. I’ve always resented the fact that even though I was in the USAF for six and a half years, and got shot at for year and a half of that, the Government doesn’t think I can be trusted or deserve to camp on their Base.”

Bob P.:
“Yep, 7 yrs. and 7 mos. Marines with a year in Vietnam and couldn’t even get on a base to show my family where I was stationed, so I know using the campground would be out.”

Thank you, readers!

Thank you, readers, for your knowledgeable responses (and for your service!). The best possible advice is to check with the base for the rules and the commanding officer’s decision on MWR Programs before making travel plans.


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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Richard Sanders
3 months ago

If you have served in the military, A DD 214 should be all you need to use the rv sites. This is not asking for much

3 months ago

Nanci these rules change from location to location. I know of military campgrounds that are open to the public and others that are not open to people even on active duty.

Love to chat about this or any other RV adventure issue. I don’t know how to contact you other than to comment.

Neal Davis
3 months ago

Way to stick with it, Nanci! 🙂

Julia clouse
3 months ago

What about surviving widows?

3 months ago


3 months ago

Nanci, I appreciate that you try to report factual information. When comes to our Military, please verify prior to publication. In fact, try doing this on all stories you’re sharing.
My husband is a Veteran, 1st Infantry Division 1961-1964 and I am very proud! The story got ME Very Excited to only be truly saddened when Verifying.

3 months ago

Just go here to get the FACTS on every FamCamp around the world. https://www.militarycampgrounds.us/

Last edited 3 months ago by PEGGY BRADLEY
Diane McGovern
3 months ago

Thanks, Peggy. Yes, that website was linked a couple of times in the post.👍 Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com

charles Howard
3 months ago

For the FamCamps that are only accessible from Military Base Gates I would think the hassle of getting a Pass for entry if you don’t have a Military ID to get on Base normally would not be worth the it.

Roger V
3 months ago

Thanks for correcting this!

3 months ago

As a Military retiree, there has to be a hard rule on who and what paperwork is required. I do understand the dismay of those who have honorably served.
There is only so much room.

Bob P
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom

The key question is how many honorably discharged veterans are there who would use these facilities if allowed? I know I would and I’m only one of millions. Also the world we live in requires extreme security at all military bases even though the present Commander in Chief apparently doesn’t think so as he allowed spy balloons to fly over many bases before taking action. I am thankful our bases are vigilant with their security, I’m proud to have served and honored to be a veteran, but by no means would I want the base security to be compromised just so I could use their facilities. My common sense tells me the sacrifice I made is just a tiny amount required to ensure our national defense is not compromised by my desires to use base campgrounds.

3 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Well said.

Bob M
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Agree and Thanks for your service.

3 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

I’m SCDV, just a correction, the last POTUS also allowed spy balloons to fly over our military installations, was briefed on it, and did nothing. So at least this one had them shot down.

Bob P
3 months ago
Reply to  Marcus


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