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Move Home for Deployment, Get Free YMCA

When military spouses ask me what I think about moving home during deployment, I tell them there are pros and cons. The support of immediate family (if you like them) can be invaluable, but then again the grating presence of your mother-in-law might just drive you crazy. You may love going at will to your favorite local comfort food joint, but you are missing out on all the deployment services catered to you that would be offered on base -- if you lived there.

But one program means you may not be missing out on quite as much as you could be. And the Defense Department just decided to keep it around for another year.

If you live away from your spouse's assigned duty station during a deployment (whether or not you actually move home) or are deployed Guard or Reserve, you qualify for the DoD's free YMCA membership program. Those whose spouses are stationed independently (example: as a recruiter) can also use the program, but must be 10 miles away from the closest base.

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The program, which costs almost $7 million a year to run, lets those geographically dispersed spouses and family members receive a membership to their local YMCA at no cost. All you have to do is make sure your Y is participating, use this form, and start enjoying the YMCA. Boom.

Since the program started in 2008, over 85,000 memberships have been given to qualify families. The program also covered active duty deployed families stationed at some installation in 2009, but that portion was discontinued in 2010 due to cost.

For more on military discounts, visit the Military.com discounts channel.

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