OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
4000 DEFENSE PENTAGON WASHINGTON. DC 20301-4000

FORC~ MANAGE:MENT POLICY
Honorable Dianne Feinstein United States Senate
750 B Street. Suite 1030 San Diego, CA 92101

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Dear Senator Feinstein:

This is in response to your recent letter to Ms. Sandra Stuart, the fonner Assistant SeC';rer:}r~l of Defeflse for Legislative Affairs, on behalf of your constituent, Mr. Robin J. Rustan. Mr. Rustan is concerned about the use of recreational facilities on military bases by dlsablt~d veterans.

Installation recreational facilities are an element of the military Morale, Welfare. and -
Recreation (MWR) program. MWR programs are vital to mission accomplishment and contribute to readiness and the development of strong, self-reliant and resilient servicemembers, DoD civilian co-mployees and families, and support the ever-evolving Defense mission. Moreover, MWR programs form an integral part of the non-pay compensation package and aid in recruitment and retention of personnel.

Honorably discharged veterans with 100 percent service-connected disabilities and Medal of Honor recipients, among others, may use MWR facilities. These individuals are authorjzed unlimited access to all MWR programs as are active duty servicemembers and th~ir families, mjjitary retirees, and certain members of the Reserve components.

In addition, the Disabled Sportsmen Act ensures access to public outdoor recreation areas for disabled veterans, military dependents with disabilities, and other persons with disabilities when access to a military installation for such persons and other civilians is not otherwise restricted. "fhe Disabled Sportsmen Act was enacted as section 2813 of the Strom Thurmond t.Jativli~ ~\";Iei.6C Autiiunzaiion ACt for Fiscal-Ye'.:lI 1999, Public Law 105-261. It amended section 103 of the Sikes Act, 16 U.S.C. section 670c, and provides that when '~eveloping facilities and conducting programs for public outdoor recreation at military installations: consistent with the primary military mission of the installations, the Secretary "of Defense shall ensure, to the extent reasonably practicable, that outdoor recreation opponunities (including fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, boating, and camping) made available to the public also provide access for i'>ersons [with disabilities] when topographic, vegetative. and water resources allow access for such persons without substantial modification to the natural en vironment."

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs. the total number of veterans with service-connected disabilities is 2.3 million as of March 1999. DoD provides MWR programs for the 163.256 veterans with 100 percent service-connected disabilities. To provide MWR programs to all disabled veterans would increase the patron base by 2.1 million. Such an expansion of MWR program patronage would unduly tax the programs from both a funding and resource availability perspective as MWR programs develop budgets and construct facilities based on the active duty population.

As you are well aware, both the Department of Defense and Congress exercise close scrutiny over the patronage ofMW ~ programs to ensure the continuation of the military benefit and to avoid the need for an increase in appropriated funds. These programs are vital to the Department's mission and its commitment to quality of life for servicemen:tbers and their families.

I hope this information will be helpful to you in replying to Mr. Rustan.

Sincerely.



Principal Director (personnel Support. Families and Education)

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