Good news for National Guard Families

I was thrilled the other day when I saw the news that the YMCA, and DOD joined forces for National Guard families.

I only wish the DOD would have done this when the GWOT started.I urge National Guard families to take advantage of this program.

31-million initiative provides military families with access toyouth development, family strengthening, and health and well-beingprograms at America's YMCAs

WASHINGTON DC, September 18, 2008-The ArmedServices YMCA (ASYMCA) today announced a new $31-million initiativewith the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide eligible militaryfamilies and active duty personnel with access to youth development,family strengthening, and health and well-being programs throughmemberships at community YMCAs nationwide. Membership fees will beunderwritten by the DoD and administered through Military OneSource.YMCA of the USA, the national resource office for America's 2,686YMCAs, will help launch the initiative at Ys across the country. 

The ASYMCA-DoD Outreach Initiative responds to a provision in theNational Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which requires theSecretary of Defense to develop a plan to support military familyreadiness and to ensure that military family readiness programs andactivities are available to all military families, including those ofthe National Guard and Military Reservists.

"YMCA of the USA is proud to partner with ASYMCA and DoD to ensurethat our nation's military and their families have access to some ofthe best youth development, family strengthening, and health andwell-being programs available at YMCAs in communities across thiscountry," said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of the YMCA of the USA."Our YMCAs have the unique capability to provide families of deployedmilitary service members with support that is generally only availableto families who live near a military base."

The  program is expected to serve more than 27,000 military families and active duty  members.

"The YMCA and ASYMCA have a history of commitment to developinginnovative programs that help military families lead healthy lives,improve personal and family relationships, become better leaders,strengthen positive values, and develop specific skills, while at thesame time building a sense of community," said Frank Gallo, RearAdmiral, USN (Ret), national executive director for the ASYMCA. "Seldomhas our support been as critical as it is today with active dutysoldiers, National Guard, members of the reserve and their familiesunder more strain than at nearly any time in our history."

Eligible  participants can sign up by identifying a participating local YMCA on www.ymca.net during the month of October, providing proof of eligibility by showinga military identification card and a copy of deployment orders, andcompleting an eligibility verification form. Eligibility forms can befound at www.militaryonesource.com .

Those  eligible to participate in the new initiative include:

  • All       interested families of joint deployed National Guard and Reserves;
  • ActiveDuty families assigned to newly established Joint Bases created by theBase Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process;
  • Active       Duty Independent Duty station personnel (single or family members); and
  • Relocated       spouses and family members of deployed Active Duty personnel.

"There is no question - deployed soldiers who know their familiesare well taken care of during deployment are better equipped to dealwith its pressures," added Gallo. "This partnership between the DoD,YMCA of the USA and ASYMCA seeks to provide this support."

More  information about the ASYMCA-DoD Outreach Initiative can be found by visiting www.asymca.org. For information about  participating YMCAs, please visit www.ymca.net after Oct. 1.

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