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Program to provide free YMCA family memberships

DOD Public Affairs , Oct 28, 2008

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 28, 2008) --

Families of deployed National Guard and Reserve troops, along with some active-duty servicemembers not stationed near a military installation, are now eligible for free family memberships at local participating YMCAs.

The program became effective Oct. 1, under a DOD contract and partnership with the Armed Services YMCA. A pilot program will also allow free family memberships at some installations that are becoming joint bases.

"We know these programs are key to personal health and well-being, help build strong families, and reduce stress and feelings of isolation," said Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu. "I am extremely pleased to announce our new partnership."

The free YMCA memberships for Guard and Reserve families will be available while the service member is deployed for a minimum of six months. The deploying service member will also be eligible for three months pre- and post-deployment membership to help promote family participation.

Active-duty families assigned to independent duty stations, such as recruiting and ROTC assignments and not currently receiving support from the service component will also be eligible for free memberships at participating YMCAs. Single service members are eligible for fitness center memberships up to $50 a month.

The families of servicemembers at selected joint bases will also be eligible for free YMCA memberships as part of a pilot program, DOD officials said. They said memberships will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis with 300 to 450 family memberships available per joint base location.

Army installations in the pilot program include:

  • Fort Sam Houston, Texas
  • Fort Lewis, Wash.
  • Fort Carson, Colo.
  • Fort Dix, N.J.
  • Fort Richardson, Alaska
  • Fort Myer, Va.

Additionally, 32 hours a month of free respite child care will be available for families of deployed National Guard and Reserve and geographically dispersed active- duty service members in 10 states with YMCA child care programs pre-approved by DoD.

Respite Child Care is currently available at participating YMCAs in the following 10 states: Indiana, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. DoD is working with the Armed Services YMCA on ways to expand the number of YMCA childcare programs eligible to offer respite care in order to meet this critical need, officials said.

Participating YMCAs have agreed to cap their monthly fees and waive all joining fees so there is no cost for servicemembers and their families for membership. Some classes may have fees associated with them and if so, the servicemember will be responsible for those costs.

"Since the Civil War, the Armed Services YMCA has been committed to supporting our troops and improving their quality of life," said executive director of the Armed Services YMCA, retired Navy Rear Adm. Frank Gallo. "This new initiative will go a long way to help America's military families live healthy lives."

Signing up for the program requires a YMCA/DoD eligibility form, a copy of deployment orders and military ID. The YMCA/DoD eligibility form is available at www.militaryonesource.com. A completed eligibility form, a copy of deployment orders (where applicable) and the military ID are all that are needed, officials said, for the local YMCA to process memberships.

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