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Armed Services YMCA

The origins of the Armed Services YMCA can be traced back to the year 1861 when voluntary relief services were provided by a group of YMCA members for the American Armed Forces. This movement spread like a wildfire in just a few months and led to the formation of the United States Christian Coalition.

The first permanent Army YMCA was established in 1889 at Fort Monroe, Virginia. When the Spanish war started in 1898, at least 500 volunteers were sent to Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba and other stations. A national direction was given to the work of YMCA volunteers through the permanently established Army and Navy Committee, which was highly appreciated by the US government. It was in 1947 that the name of the organization was changed to YMCA Armed Services Department which started spreading its wing overseas by taking over the responsibility of 26 former USO branches.

Armed Services YMCA was recognized as a part of the Department of Defense and officially established only in 1984. Since then this organization has been offering a variety of national and local services and programs. In association with the Armed Services YMCA, the Department of Defense offers the DoD Military Outreach Initiative that aims at helping Title 10 Military Groups at Puerto Rico and United States. Kids of military personnel who are separated from one or both parents are comforted with custom made quilts made by the Operation Kid Comfort.

To reiterate commitment towards offering support to the military personnel’s families, the Armed Services YMCA established the Military Family Month in 1993. Other national services programs initiated by this organization include Operation Outdoors, Student Art and Essay Contest, Operation Hero and Operation Holiday Joy.

Local programs include medical assistance and therapy, fitness and recreation, education and family programs such as crisis counseling, young family support, food for families, parenting workshops and family abuse shelter.

To find the link to this and many other military aid and charity organizations, please visit the Military Links & Resources page.

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