ARMED SERVICES YMCA
The Armed Services YMCA is a social services agency with branches and affiliates at many major installations in the U.S. Most services are offered free or for a nominal fee with a valid military ID card.
Recreational, educational, social and religious programs include child care, mentoring, computer learning centers for children, single service members’ centers, hospital assistance, transportation, adult classes, aerobics and classes in English as a second language.
Through the YMCA Outreach program, Armed Services YMCA is contracted by the Defense Department to offer free family memberships at local participating YMCAs throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico for families of deployed National Guard and Reserve personnel and active-duty members assigned to independent duty who do not have access to installation morale, welfare and recreation programs. Free “child watch” may be provided.
NATIONAL MILITARY FAMILY ASSOCIATION
In addition to providing information about benefits and services for military families, this organization has scholarship programs for military spouses and free “Operation Purple” camps for children of deployed troops.
This network, with 23 chapters nationwide, offers help with day-to-day issues for families of deployed troops and wounded warriors. Services include financial assistance; housing and food needs; critical car, home and appliance repair; refurbishing computers; moving and transportation; and furniture needs.
Contact: Links and phone numbers for local chapters are at www.operationhomefront.net.
Armed Forces Emergency Services of the American Red Cross provides a vital link to home for those serving in remote areas. Emergency messages can be sent by service members or their families for quick relay by the Red Cross to almost any community or military installation, even ships at sea.
Some local Red Cross chapters may be able to provide links to assistance for families, including parents of service members, and others who may not live near a military installation.
Contact: 877-272-7337; or www.redcross.org and type in your ZIP code for your local chapter.
Private relief societies help service members solve short-term, emergency financial problems. There are four private, nonprofit societies: Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance.
Each has local representatives on military installations, usually in family centers. All share a goal of helping relieve financial distress, but they have slightly different policies and procedures. Anyone seeking aid should bring a military ID card, leave papers, leave-and-earnings statements and other information or documents showing emergency financial need. The societies rely on donations and receive no government funds.
Services are free. Some aid does not need to be repaid, and loans are interest-free. Checks are distributed by local representatives.
♦ Air Force Aid Society, www.afas.org.
♦ Army Emergency Relief, www.aerhq.org.
♦ Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, www.nmcrs.org.
♦ Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, www.cgmahq.org.
This civilian group, formed in 2003, helps families with problems that arise during deployments and mobilizations, with a focus on helping families through short-term financial crunches. For example, one program can help families avoid losing their homes because of financial difficulties related to deployments.
Contact: 800-773-0387, www.usacares.org.
The United Service Organizations operates about 130 centers worldwide that offer hospitality in airports and Navy fleet centers. It offers maps, bus routes and help with lodging, currency exchange and language. The USO has five mobile canteens and nine information centers on or near installations.
It also provides tours, dances, free movies, socials and discount tickets for sports and cultural events. Information is available from the nearest USO or the base family support center.
Contact: USO, 888-484-3876; www.uso.org.