Morale, Welfare and Recreation's waterfront Pelican Roost RV Park at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

Morale, Welfare and Recreation's waterfront Pelican Roost RV Park at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. (U.S. Navy)

Active-duty sailors and their families may now spend their entire tours at some Navy bases living in RV parks, according to a recent policy change.

Navy families enjoy Navy RV parks for recreation and leisure travel, but may also choose that option for up to a year while waiting for base housing to become available during a change of duty station, Destiny Sibert, a spokeswoman for Navy Installations Command Headquarters, told Stars and Stripes via email Friday.

The new policy, which took effect March 8, also permits active-duty members and their families to stay in an RV park for the duration of their tours of duty, based on space availability, without having to request an extension.

“This policy change is one more initiative among many that we hope will reduce stressors that come with a military lifestyle by providing active-duty families more flexibility and make it easier to enjoy their Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program benefits,” Sibert said.

Previously, Navy MWR RV parks required visitors to renew their reservations every 30 days. The new policy permits them to extend another 180 days if space is available.

After that, patrons may extend their existing reservation up to one year from their arrival date, pending availability and with approval from the installation commander.

The 30-day limit promotes “fair and equitable opportunity for leisure travel,” while the new, extended-stay policy supports active-duty members and their families who prefer to stay in Navy RV parks long-term.

One of those long-term RV dwellers is Chief Petty Officer Wes Alexander, stationed at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, Calif. He has been living in a 400-square-foot RV with his wife and three children.

“We decided to RV full time because the housing market here is insane,” Alexander told Stars and Stripes via Facebook Messenger on Tuesday. “Even though we are 2 hours from Los Angeles the home rent prices are usually above BAH (Basic Housing Allowance) levels.”

Alexander, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., plans to live in the 42-foot, two-bedroom RV with two full baths until he retires in 2027.

“There are many pros (of the new policy) for full time families like us, because moving is a major hassle,” he said. “It takes about 4-6 hours to move about 10 miles to the next base plus about 2 days prior we start the cleaning and packing process. Being stationary makes it feel more at home and is less stressful.”

The Navy’s Recreational Lodging Program operates 46 sites with more than 2,530 RV spaces. Navy RV parks average about 46,000 reservations per year, amounting to more than 550,000 in total and an overall occupancy rate of 62%, Sibert said.

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Kelly Agee is a reporter and photographer at Yokota Air Base, Japan, who has served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years. She is a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program alumna and is working toward her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland Global Campus. Her previous Navy assignments have taken her to Greece, Okinawa, and aboard the USS Nimitz.

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