The Armed Services YMCA has partnered with the Department of Defense (DoD) on a $31-million initiative to provide eligible military families and active duty personnel with access to youth development, family strengthening, and health and well-being programs through memberships at community YMCAs nationwide. Membership fees are underwritten by the DoD.
The ASYMCA-DoD Outreach Initiative responds to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to support military family readiness and to ensure that military family readiness programs and activities are available to all military families, including those of the National Guard and Military Reservists. Due to the success and popularity of the program, the program has been extended thru 2013.
Here is a recent thank you note from an Army spouse on how the YMCA | DoD Initiative with Armed Services YMCA has made a lasting impact on her Military Family:
My name is Julie and I’m a mother of 2 girls age 4 & 10 and when their father was deployed overseas to serve in Iraq for a 12 month deployment I decided to move from Southern California to my moms in Oregon so me and my daughters wouldn’t be alone. This was the 3rd time my husband would be gone within a 3 year time span, and I was tired of being left all alone in southern California. After moving in with my mom, I began looking for new activities to do with my daughters and make new friends. I learned at a yellow ribbon pre deployment event that the YMCA had a military outreach program available to the families of deployed soldiers, so that’s where I went. I came to the Salem Family YMCA about a 15 mile drive from my hometown and signed up for my free membership in December of 2010. I have been involved in the fitness industry for the last 10 years, I have been to many gyms, been a fitness trainer as well as a health club manager. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that all the group classes offered by Y, we’re included at no extra charge and childcare was included in my free family membership which was a complete blessing because I was now a “single” parent and greatly needed this service. What I loved about the Y was the overall feel of the gym itself, it’s layout of 3 stories make it so it never feels crowded and it is NOT your typical meat market atmosphere. I never felt this comfortable before at a gym, and After taking some classes I was so pleased to find that the instructors, trainers and staff were so welcoming and supportive and started to know me by name. I felt for the first time that I belonged to a new family………my Y family! I have never had such a supportive and friendly group of gym staff at any other gym in my life, and I have been a member of many gyms and health clubs. I began to have my own success with weight loss and a new healthier life. And to make things even better they offer so many sports classes and activities for children at a very reasonable cost, my daughters were both able to enjoy many activities because of these wonderful programs which were crucial to us for keeping my daughters busy and motivated so they wouldn’t be so focused on missing their dad. This benefit has been the most wonderful gift that my family has been offered as part of my husbands service to our country. We have been given many benefits to help the single parent and children left behind when the other parent is away serving, and this military outreach program has been the most beneficial, and enriching activity my family had been given during this difficult and challenging time in our life. It is amazing to feel like a part of the family when I come to workout and in turn I have become a happier and healthier army wife.
I particularly wanted to thank your trainer/instructor Tina, she has gone above and beyond to help assist me with advice and support that I would of never expected! I’m sure many people pay alot of money to have that kind of support from such an experienced professional. Not only has she given me tons of advice, but she remembers and welcomes me EVERYTIME she sees me! She is worth her weight in gold! My husband is home but is now in the wounded warrior program because of his injuries he sustained on active duty. He now attends the Y with me.
- An Army Family shares why they are grateful this program continues, September 2012.