Sue Johnson knows what it is like to be a military spouse. Her former husband served in the Navy for over 20 years and the family experienced too many deployments to count during that time. She also raised two children as a part time single parent when the military duty came first for her husband.
Now Johnson directs the YMCA of Greater Des Moines’ Military ReConnect Program. The outreach program was made possible by a generous grant from an anonymous donor.
“The program helps strengthen military families through supportive programming with our community YMCAs,” Johnson said. “Military life can be very stressful when you live in the unknown and know that your spouse is in a dangerous place.”
The grant supports 40 families association-wide at a time. Johnson says that currently 36 families take advantage of the program. The program was started as an extension of the current Armed Services YMCA memberships that is offered by the Department of Defense to all deployed families.
The YMCA of Greater Des Moines wanted to reach out to these families and assist them above and beyond their membership. Families such as the Air Guard who are deployed but do not qualify for the Armed Service YMCA membership can also contact Johnson to qualify for the ReConnect program as well.
With their Y membership, the Military ReConnect Program also provides parenting support through community resources as well as marriage support through America’s Family Coaches. The Y offers confidential services of the Y chaplain to families as needed.
“The program is really focused on the family as a whole and their needs,” Johnson said.
Special attention is given to our school age military children through our “Home Guard” youth group. Time is spent just being together with other military children who understand what each is going through. Activities have included weekend camp outs as well has community excursions such as roller skating, wall climbing, and swimming. Along with this there is even a greater opportunity to attend Y Camp for one week during the summer at no cost.
For those with young children Parent’s Night Out is offered at no cost to give the families a chance to have some adult time to go out to the movies or dinner.
For more information about the program contact Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 515.224.1888. Additional information on the Armed Services YMCA membership is also available at www.militaryonesource.com.