When the United States declared war in 1917, the YMCA immediately volunteered its support. The Association assumed military responsibilities on a scale that had never been attempted by a nonprofit, community-based organization, and it was at the conclusion of the war that the military began to institutionalize the massive human services work carried out by the YMCA. At the end of World War I, William Howard Taft wrote: “The American Young Men's Christian Association in its welfare work served between four and five millions of American soldiers and sailors, at home and overseas. As General Pershing has said, it conducted nine-tenths of the welfare work among the American forces in Europe. Moreover, alone among American welfare societies, this organization, first and last, ministered to not less than nineteen millions of the soldiers of the Allied Armies and extended its helpful activities to over five millions of prisoners of war. Its operations were conducted on western, southern, and eastern fronts in Europe; in northern and eastern Africa; in western, southern, and eastern Asia; in North and South America; and in different parts of the island world.”
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