By Ashley M.Smith
USAREC Public Affairs
January 19, 2017
FORT KNOX, Ky. — The Department of Defense has extended its contract for the Armed Services DOD Military Initiative for independent duty personnel across the country and Puerto Rico through March 15, 2018.
The initiative allows U.S. Army Recruiting Command Soldiers to obtain a six-month free gym membership through their local YMCAs or private gyms while on independent duty assignments and where a military fitness facility is 10 or more miles away from their duty location.
The memberships help Soldiers maintain Army physical fitness standards as well as avoid physical training in inclement weather, said Brian McDonald, chief of the Military Support Programs Division for USAREC.
According to McDonald, the command’s recruiters are the highest users of the initiative.
"Part of Army readiness is physical fitness and this program allows (recruiters) to do that," McDonald said.
Although the Department of Defense is responsible for funding the initiative in its partnership with the ASYMCA and the Army’s Installation Management Command’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Division, USAREC verifies its Soldiers for membership as a service point of contact, McDonald said.
Additionally, there are slight differences between choosing a local YMCA and going with a private gym. When Soldiers choose to get a membership at a local YMCA, their family members also may join at no additional cost. However, for those who do not have a YMCA locally, a private gym is the only option available. Spouses and family members are not eligible for a free gym membership at the private gyms.
Since the Department of Defense has a contract in place with the Armed Services YMCA, membership approval processing time is much shorter than what it would be for approval at a private gym, according to McDonald.
"On average, it takes about 45 calendar days to process the approval for private gym memberships," McDonald said, adding that processing time for YMCA memberships takes a week or less.
During the six-month membership, Soldiers and their families are required to use the membership eight calendar days each month to continue the membership. Soldiers and family members who do not adhere to this requirement other than in situations beyond their control will be removed from eligibility for the program.
"We want the best quality of life for our Soldiers," McDonald said.
For more information on how to sign up for gym membership, visit