SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS
The YMCA was one of the founders of the USO in 1941 and has played a significant part in supporting our US Troops since then. This partnership between the Armed Forces and the YMCA still stands strong today. In honor of Veterans Day, our staff member and US Army Reserve MP, Darren Garay, spoke with us about his recent deployment and the importance of the YMCA in his life.
WR YMCA: With Veteran’s Day just around the corner, tell us about your service in the Armed Forces.
Darren: I enlisted in the United States Army in June of 2006. While serving as active duty and stationed in Fort Huachuca, AZ I was assigned to the 40th Signal Battalion Bravo Company. While there, I deployed to Iraq for one year.
After completing my active duty enlistment in June 2010, I decided to go back in the Reserves as an MP- Military Police. I have been with the 302nd MP Company since 2010.
WR YMCA: What is your experience with the White Rock YMCA?
Darren: Well I grew up in East Dallas and graduated from Woodrow Wilson HS in 1997. I went to YMCA summer camp when I was 11 when it was still called the East Dallas YMCA.
WR YMCA: How has working in the Y impacted you?
Darren: During my time in the reserve, I was looking for work, and I wanted to do something with the community and help people in a way I knew best, fitness. I visited the YMCA at White Rock and told the program director that I was the physical fitness instructor for my company during my time in active duty. It turns out she was looking for a Wellness Coach, and I fit the job description.
Working at the YMCA has been great. I get involved with the community, and they get to know me.
WR YMCA: Sounds like the YMCA has made quite a difference on your life.
Darren: Yes, it has in many ways! All my life I had a fear of water, so I never learned to swim. I wanted to do water activities, like snorkeling and surfing, so I faced my fear and took swimming lessons with the YMCA in the summer of 2013. After two weeks I learned how to swim and overcame my fear of water!
WR YMCA: What an accomplishment! What brings you back to the White Rock YMCA after your second deployment with the Army?
Darren: Yes, in October 2013, I had to leave the YMCA on military assignment. My unit was deployed to Afghanistan. This was another opportunity to serve my country overseas in combat. While in Afghanistan, there were many hard days. Even on the other side of the world, I still showed my support to the YMCA by carrying the Y Flag on every mission.
The YMCA is a huge supporter of the military, and I am grateful that my community and I have a place we can go where everyone is welcome to workout, play sports, participate in aerobics, or hang out and make new friends.
Thank you White Rock YMCA!