Next month, the Fort Myer Officers Club will become the latest such organization to open its membership rolls to the enlisted ranks, continuing a trend that has nearly eliminated such clubs from Army installations.
Service members of all ranks from all branches will be eligible for membership, as will military retirees, contractors, military family members and federal civilian
workers, according to an Aug. 1 Facebook post and a follow-up article in the base newspaper.
The move comes at the direction of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall commander Col. Patrick Duggan. Duggan told the paper that his inspiration came from Gen. George Patton, who used the Virginia club's building as his headquarters prior to World War II, while the then-colonel commanded the installation.
"Patton believed any well-trained soldier, regardless of rank, could have monumental impacts in modern-day mechanized battle," Duggan told the Pentagram. "Patton believed in soldiers, not rank."
The club's changes are far from unique. USA Today reported in 2009 that seven officers clubs were left on Army installations, compared with about 100 in the late 1970s.
An Army Installation Management Command spokesman told Army Times that four such clubs remained, but the IMCOM list included the clubs at Fort Myer and Alabama's Redstone Arsenal, where the Officers and Civilians Club became The Summit in 2012.
That leaves just Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Fort Jackson, South Carolina, according to IMCOM: Events at both clubs are open to all military members, guests, and others on post, while membership at the clubs remains restricted and allows for discounts on meals and other services.
Both allow for civilian members with GS-7 or equivalent standing. The Fort Belvoir club is open to senior enlisted (E-7 and above).
Fort Jackson spokesman Patrick Jones said the club's busiest days often come thanks to some of the Army's least-senior members, as soldiers graduating basic training celebrate "Family Day" by dining with visitors.
Back at the Fort Myer club, the new membership policy takes effect Sept. 1. Officials plan to announce the club's new name that day in the base newspaper; community members have been asked to vote for their favorite name from a list of finalists.