YMCA of Greater Erie

Erie, PA – The YMCA of Greater Erie, in partnership with the Armed Services YMCA, has made available free memberships for the families of deployed service members.

“We understand that military families are under enormous stress, and military life comes with unique challenges,” said Gerry Vandemerwe, YMCA of Greater Erie CEO.  “Deployments and frequent moves can be stressful for military and their families.”

The beginning of YMCA service in the military setting usually is associated with the year 1861, when 5,000 dedicated YMCA volunteers took to the battlefields of the Civil War alongside America’s uniformed young men. It was the year that Abraham Lincoln commended YMCA for the “benevolent undertaking for the benefit of the soldiers.” The tradition of “following the flag” has continued in every war and conflict in which the United States has been involved.

Headquarted in Springfield, Virginia, the Armed Service YMCA, through its 34 branches and affiliates supports 45 of the largest military installations and offers unique programs that are tailored to the specific needs of the military community on the local level.

“A membership to the YMCA enables the families of deployed military to spend quality time together and provides an opportunity to meet other military families who can relate to their unique situation,” said Vandemerwe.

Eligible military include Title 10 Personnel including family members of deployed National Guard and Reservists; active duty independent duty personnel and their families; wounded service members assigned to a Community Based Warrior in Transition Unit; relocated spouse/dependent children of deployed active duty personnel (the relocated spouse category supports families/spouses who relocate away from an installation/duty station while the active duty service member is deployed – all of the following criteria must be met: the service member is on active duty; the service member is DEPLOYED for a minimum of six months (on deployment orders—NOT unaccompanied orders, NOT geographic bachelors);the spouse has relocated away from the military installation where the service member is assigned (most often, back home near family).

Military families that would like to join the YMCA of Greater Erie should bring military ID and any other required documentation (usually deployment orders or military service headquarters approval letter) to the Y branch for verification.

For more information, call the local YMCA of Greater Erie branch for more information.