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Better Than Applebee’s – Freebies and Discounts for Military and Veterans

Community Support
Community Support
January 1, 2024
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Signing on the dotted line to begin a term of service with the United States military is rarely done for money. Most of us consider protecting our fellow citizens to be a patriotic duty… but let’s be honest, there isn’t exactly a deep well of dollars to draw from anyway. Despite the limitations of a government budget, there are still some excellent benefits that service members and veterans don’t take full advantage of. As it turns out, there is more on the table than discounts at restaurants or that sweet twenty percent interest rate on the brand-new Toyota Tacoma in Flat Dark Earth that the lot outside the main gate stocks up on.

America the Beautiful Pass - US National Park Service

Active Duty, Veteran, Gold Star Family Member

Do you enjoy camping, hiking, and fishing? Do bears shit in the woods? Why not ask a Park Ranger when going through the gate onto one of the 2,000+ federal recreation areas for free?

Available for a $10 processing fee at the USGS Store online, or free of charge if picked up from a site that issues passes, the US National Park Service offers two types of passes; annual for Active Duty and lifetime for Veterans and Gold Star family members. The pass offers the bearer, “entrance to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service sites, and covers Standard Amenity Fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation sites, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites. Admits the pass owners and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas, or the pass owner and up to additional 3 adults (16 and over) at sites that charge per person.” The package comes with an access card and a placard to place the card in for vehicle use.

Military Exclusive Resorts - US Army MWR

Active Duty, Veteran 

Taking the family to Walt Disney World, but the lodging costs as much if not more than the park passes? Stick it to the civilian vultures and check out a military resort.

The US Army maintains four resort properties for the exclusive use by active-duty service members, and due to the Disabled Veteran Equal Access Act of 2018, veterans with 100% service-connected disability rating can use two of them as well. Taking advantage does cost money as any hotel would, but they are dirt cheap considering their locations, Edelweiss, Germany, Dragon Hill Lodge, South Korea, Shades of Green, Florida, and Hale Koa, Hawaii. All are available to active duty, the latter two for disabled veterans. 

A stay does need to be booked in advance, but in Shades of Green, for example, a weekend stay for a family of four can run around $214 a night. For something in the Disney sphere, you’d be hard pressed to do better.

Free Tickets to Various Events –

Active Duty, Veteran

The only way to make free tickets better is to get them from a Veteran organization that truly puts their back into what they do.

According to their website, VetTix provides, “tickets to events which reduce stress, strengthen family bonds, build life-long memories, and encourage service members and veterans to stay engaged with local communities and American life. We support our troops by honoring their service and providing positive family and life experiences, during and after their years of service to our country.”

Providing free or almost free tickets to sporting events, concerts, and the like, VetTix also arranges attendance to events for “Active Duty Military Personnel (six months prior to, while on leave from or six months after their deployments), severely wounded warriors and the families of men and woman killed in action.” Referred to as “Hero’s Wish”, the organization claims that they have fulfilled every request made for the last decade, which is a more solid track record than most can claim.

While these are some of my personal favorites, there are piles of other offers, discounts, and freebies out there, so running the occasional internet search is a good SOP to have. Sign up to stay in the loop, and if we find any more hidden gems, we’ll send a runner.

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