Premium Partners

Pike YMCA Pairs with VA to Serve Vets

Courtney Cameron

In 2018, the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis will partner with the Richard Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center to open a new location in Pike Township near the downtown VA to enhance outpatient services. It will be the first YMCA in the country to offer customized space and services for veterans.

The Pike YMCA plans to offer occupational therapy, counseling services and targeted classes such as financial literacy, job placement and diabetes prevention.

Eric Ellsworth, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, hopes the new location will set an example that other YMCA facilities will emulate. According to Ellsworth, more than half of the approximately 120,000 veterans living in the area served by the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis have long-term health issues which can be traced to their time in the service.

Marine Corps vet and former mayor of Indianapolis Greg Ballard has been a strong supporter of the project from the beginning. “When you’re in the military, it’s all in, it’s a lifestyle,” Ballard told the INDYSTAR. “When you leave, you’re coming into really a different type of world, and sometimes you need a little bit of coaching, a little bit of help. This is a good initiative that will allow essentially one-stop shopping.”

Mikail Al-Malik, aquatics program director at the YMCA of Fort Benjamin Harrison and Marine Corps vet, says there is a need for programs tailored to meet the needs of younger veterans, who are sometimes overlooked. “The younger generation, they haven’t really discovered what the Y can offer,” he said. “It’s a great local resource if you’re looking to stay active and you’re not ready for the VFW or American Legion.”

As the project continues to develop, the Roudebush VA plans to expand outpatient services to include six new satellite clinics, as well as a 50-bed residential treatment program for homeless veterans at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Next year, the YMCA will expand to include a new position, hiring their first director of veteran and military services.

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