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YMCA & Military Outreach Program

It's no secret that deployments can be stressful on families. The worry of a loved ones safety can lead to anxiety, stressed out spouses, and stir crazy children. Through the years, the Department of Defense has recognized the battle on the home from and has taken action to alleviate the pressures that come with a spouse or parent being at war.

One of these efforts is a partnership with the YMCA. The Y offers memberships and respite child care to eligible military families, providing a way for spouses and children to play together at various classes or camps or give mom or dad a break while their children are being cared for in a safe, active, and educational environment. This program is free of charge to eligible personnel which includes family members of deployed National Guard and Reservists, relocated spouses of active duty personnel and families of deployed active duty personnel residing 30 miles from a military installation.

Here is where it gets tricky. This benefit is only for deployed families, and even then those families have to live at least 30 miles from a military base. The free membership and childcare is not for families who are serving remote or unaccompanied tours. While the benefit sounds great on paper, we have to wonder how many families are able to take advantage of this benefit.

We aren't making a judgement call here and we are thankful for the service the YMCA provides to some military families but it seems to us that it could be a little more inclusive, especially since most military installation fitness centers do not provide child care. Also, families serving remote tours experience similar stress levels as a deployed family since remote tours are usually longer than a deployment.

What do you think? Should it matter to the YMCA where and how a spouse is separated from his or her family? Or, rather, should it only matter that the separation is caused by a call to protect our country?