The YWCA has been a key supporter of the military throughout its history.
Gail Braybon, a historian of women, says that many women found the war to be “a genuinely liberating experience, that made them feel useful as citizens – and gave them the freedom that can only be found with steady wages.”
WACS: During World War I, the YWCA joined other women’s groups, members of the Army and educational organizations to lobby for a women’s corps comparable to the British WAAC. It wasn’t until the Second World War, in 1942, that the first Women’s Auxiliary Corps (WACS) began training.
USO: Before the U.S. entry into World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt solicited the services of six private, civilian organizations to join together as the United War Work Campaign: the YMCA, the YWCA, National Catholic Community Services, the National Jewish Welfare Board, Traveler’s Aid Association and the Salvation Army to meet on-leave recreation needs for the members of the Armed Forces. The six organizations together launched the USO, incorporated on February 4, 1941.
SPARS: During the Second World War, the YWCA served as a place for recruiters to interview women for service in the Army (as WACS), Navy (as WAVES) or Coast Guard (as SPARS).
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DID YOU KNOW?
Women have proudly served their country throughout U.S. history, even disguised as male soldiers during the American Revolution and Civil War.