The month of May has been designated as National Military Appreciation Month, and it is something that stretches through all 50 states. Many retail chains and vacation destinations give discounts to current or former military members all year long, and others wait to offer deep discounts during May only. With the expenditure of a little legwork and fact finding energy coupled with some planning, current and/or ex-military men and women as well as their spouses can reap some serious benefits in this last month of spring.
Here are some basic ground rules, guidelines and caveats:
You must be able and ready to prove that you have served. Equally important: if need be, you must be able to prove that you are currently serving, if those are the terms of the deal. Some outfits will take your word for it, but most will require official proof that you are/were, in fact, in one of the branches. Sometimes this involves typing in a code for online purchases or giving it to a live agent on the phone. Some establishments extend the discounts to the entire family, or to the couple, and some only to the one person who served. Find that out before you trek across country with your entire tribe in tow and discover that the only one who is getting in at a discount is you, Mr. or Ms. Ex-Mil.
Some discounts apply to certain branches only. You will find this more often in businesses that were themselves formed by former members of a particular branch. Don’t take offense; you will find from a list below that there are plenty of businesses who will welcome you during the month of May as well as the rest of the year. Some hospitality chains and theme parks require that you use your discounted reservation before May 31, others will grant you the discount if you make your reservation during May, but for a date that is later in the year.
Here are some more tips from Karen Jowers, who covers Morale, Welfare and Recreation-type issues for the Military Times:
- Check the fine print before you hit the road, and call the participating organization to make sure the offer is available when you want to be there.
- ”Free” is not always completely free. For example, a free meal doesn’t always come with a beverage, so be prepared to pay for your drink and other extras.
Double check to make sure that the local installation is, in fact, participating in the program. “At participating locations only” may apply, as well as other restrictions; so do your due diligence and avoid an awkward situation for you as well as the poor schlub behind the counter who is just following orders.
Here is a list of some of the businesses that have signed on to especially show their appreciation for you during the lovely month of May: Home Depot and Lowe’s, the Hilton and Homewood Suites, Red Roof Inn, Westgate Resorts, Disney, Blue Star Museums, the National Park Service, Valley Fair, the Bronx Zoo, and Penske truck rentals. There are more, and you will need to contact each organization separately.
For more information, you can go to www.nmam.org, and we thank you for your service!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner