Entertaining the Army

Army Entertainment volunteers read to children at the Thomas Lee Hall Library on Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

The U.S. Army Entertainment Program is dedicated to producing and delivering diverse and relevant entertainment to Soldiers, Family members, retirees and civilians both at home and abroad. 

Started in 1940, Army Entertainment manages unit entertainment activities, events, shows and performances around the world. The entertainment programs support the mission of improving and enriching the quality of life for the U.S. military community. 

Oklahoma Soldiers at Fort Sill work out on an Entertainment Battle Rig brought to the base through a partnership between Army Entertainment and fitness training group, Alpha Warrior.

Originally inspired by the tradition of Civil War camp shows and military shows like Yip Yip Yaphank during World War I and This Is the Army, written and directed by then SGT Irving Berlin during World War II, Army Entertainment is now a formalized program dedicated to supporting Soldiers through various methods of entertainment. 

Army Entertainment is the official agency for producing and delivering unit entertainment, including comedy shows, musical and theater productions, talent competitions, tournaments, award shows, special events and celebrity appearances at Army installations and events worldwide. Well-known performers over the years have included Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Sammy Davis Jr., Clint Eastwood, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arsenio Hall, Gary Sinise and NFL legend Tony Gonzalez. 

More recently, the Army Entertainment Program partnered with Alpha Warrior, a program providing training and obstacle fitness to service members and civilians around the world. The partnership helped bring the Entertainment Battle Rig, a specialized obstacle course similar to the well-known American Ninja Warrior obstacle courses, to 10 military installations around the Nation. 

Soldier volunteers performing during the Army Entertainment Soldier Show in June 2015.

The Army Entertainment program has a goal of enhancing resiliency and readiness, fostering positive personal interactions, friendships and relations, and increasing social awareness among Soldiers, their Family members and Army civilians. The success of the program relies heavily on volunteer participation. About 2,000 Soldiers, civilians and Family members donate over 300,000 volunteer hours each year to put on the live shows and events held at U.S. Army garrison communities around the world. 

Volunteering with the Army Entertainment program allows service members to be a part of a community proven to help reduce isolation, stress and anxiety for Soldiers. The program presents its audiences with entertainment and activities that allow Solders to connect and relax, which often offers much needed comfort to Soldiers while they are away from their Families. Additionally, the program’s overseas component also provides unique opportunities to help secure strategic bonds between the Nation and its allies. 

Volunteer opportunities, including the opportunity to perform as an entertainer, are currently available to Guard, active duty and Reserve Soldiers. Army Entertainment offers multiple avenues for Soldiers to showcase their talents, either in the spotlight or behind the scenes. The Army Entertainment community is a great place for service members to foster new friendships with a variety of people from around the world. 

Army Entertainment has become a morale booster amongst Soldiers and a significant component in contributing to the overall well-being of the Army community. Get involved with a great program benefiting Soldiers around the world. Go to www.armymwr.com/programs-and-services/entertainment-and-dining/entertainment to find out how to participate with the program and to learn about upcoming events.

By Staff Writer Tatyana White-Jenkins

Photos courtesy Army Entertainment

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