Armed Services YMCA Celebrates National Military Appreciation Month and 160 Years of Helping Military Families

WOODBRIDGE, Va., May 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — For the past 160 years, The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) has remained a constant in the lives of military families: on the home front and during deployment, when transitioning between bases, and in times of conflict and peace. 

The oldest military support organization in the U.S., the ASYMCA has been Strengthening Our Military Family® since 1861. Its 12 branches and 24 affiliates serve 87 military installations nationwide with national and locally tailored programs and services for our nation’s troops and their families, offered at little to no cost, with no dues or membership fees.

“For 160 years, the ASYMCA has helped to strengthen the family unit by addressing immediate needs and providing tools to weather setbacks. Just since last March, the Armed Services YMCA has delivered more than 2M pounds of food and helped more than 38,000 military families in response to the pandemic and the economic turmoil it has caused,” Vice Admiral William French, USN (Ret.), CEO of ASYMCA explains.

The proud heritage of the ASYMCA began during the Civil War when dedicated YMCA volunteers provided relief and comfort to sick and wounded soldiers. News of these selfless and courageous actions spread quickly, and the number of volunteers increased dramatically. Within months, the movement turned into the first large-scale civilian volunteer service corps and formed as the United States Christian Commission, whose purpose was to provide spiritual and physical comfort to soldiers.

“Less than one half of one percent of the U.S. population serves in the military, and they do so at great sacrifice. Since its inception, the Armed Services YMCA has provided what those service members and their families need, where they need it most,” VADM French states.

In an interview, VADM French can provide further information on the types of programs the ASYMCA have executed as well as a look ahead towards the organizational goals for the future focused in three big areas:

  • Resiliency – Prior to the pandemic, military spouses were unemployed at rates 6 times higher than their civilian counterparts. A single income existence is no longer typical and over 34% of military families have shown a loss of that income due to the pandemic. From meeting the immediate food relief needs of military families while connecting them with local resources such as financial education, career opportunities and other services, ASYMCA ensures that the military family needs are met while surging resources to help them weather future setbacks.
  • Readiness – Distractions destroy readiness. By directly tackling the challenges military families face, like lack of access to affordable childcare, ASYMCA improves military readiness, allowing a service member to focus on the task at hand without worrying about the family that stands behind them.
  • Responsibility – Military children move three times more often than their civilian counterparts due to their military parent’s career progression. These frequent moves, along with other stressors of military life, degrade self-esteem, negatively impact academic performance, increase anxiety, and cause feelings of isolation. More than 80% of ASYMCA programs are centered around military children with programs including daycare, camps and mental health support that address the unique challenges that military children face, while building confidence and character. 

For more information on the partnership, please visit

*Interviews Available with ASYMCA CEO William French*

Susan Gold

323 839 8550

SOURCE Armed Services YMCA

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