The Arkansas National Guard MWR began in a very small room near the present site. It was known simply as the “Canteen” and its main purpose was to offer a limited stock of “personal needs items” like soda pop, chips, beer, and cigarettes. It also carried a very small selection of military boots and low quarters.
No one can remember when it was first established, but over time, more space was required for expansion of stock. It moved to the building across the street from the current Troop Medical Clinic and later moved to the building directly across the street from the current MWR Complex site.
In 1989, due to some accountability issues and a desire to better serve the members of the Arkansas National Guard, The Adjutant General directed that the Canteen be incorporated and appointed BG Gerald Porter (now deceased) as the first Chairman of the new MWR Board. BG Porter was a traditional soldier and a successful building contractor and businessman in his civilian life. The Adjutant General’s charter to BG Porter and the MWR Board was simple…provide to our service members as many as possible of the services and activities found on an Active Duty installation. Key among these services was a facility where transients could eat without having to leave the post.
From this point the MWR Activity has grown to what you see today. On Camp J. T. Robinson, in central Arkansas, there is a 44,000 square foot facility that offers a PX, a restaurant, the “Rock” lounge, a Credit Union, cleaning and laundry services, and a barber shop. On Fort Chaffee, in the western side of the state, there is a significantly smaller facility that offers a PX and a hot dog stand, with a barber shop located directly across from the PX. Plans are in the works to provide a new, larger facility at Ft. Chaffee that would expand the services offered and would consolidate them into one building.
MWR is a non-profit organization and funds generated by MWR are used to provide more and better services to the service member. MWR also provides a cash rebate to each Arkansas National Guard units based upon the units end strength as of 30 September, each year. This rebate must be used for the benefit of all members of the unit.