NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- A Sailor’s life is full of challenges, and not every challenge is the same. When a financial hardship like a car breaking down in the middle of a cross country trip strikes, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) is there to lend a hand.
“Word has to get out that there are a lot of options to relieve a lot of stress financially, mentally, and emotionally,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Hamilton Bryant, from Boston, USS George Washington’s command Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s representative.
The NMCRS has been providing Sailors, Marines, and their families assistance since 1904. Last year, nearly $45 million was provided to Sailors and Marines stationed worldwide by NMCRS, $8.8 million of which was provided in Hampton Roads alone. However, the money available for Sailors and Marines to use, interest-free and almost always without question, is not provided by the Department of the Navy, but by various donations and fund drives throughout the year.
“Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a non-profit that does not receive funds from the Navy or Marine Corps,” said Kathy Nelson, a retired U.S. Navy captain and the director for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society in Norfolk.
Instead, the NMCRS receives a majority of their donations from service members throughout the Navy and Marine Corps, a kind of “for Sailors, from Sailors.”
In order to help meet its needs, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society holds a fund drive in March so they can continue to provide monetary support to families when they need it most.
“Donated funds from the active duty fund drive and repayment of interest-free loans represent the bulk of the NMCRS operating funds,” said Nelson.
The NMCRS provides many services to Sailors, Marines, and their families. Their most popular program, the Quick Assist Loan, was implemented worldwide in 2008.
“It was intended to assist active Sailors and Marines who needed a small amount of money, $500 maximum, to avoid interaction with payday lenders,” said Nelson.
While the Quick Assist Loan is the most popular program, it is not the only program the NMCRS offers. Other featured services provided by NMCRS were developed in response to the needs of service members and include, but are not limited to, emergency travel, disaster evacuation assistance, visiting nurses, and financial classes.
“As larger numbers of people with these situations were observed, recommendations were made to incorporate those forms of assistance into policy,” said Nelson.
The ability to carry out these programs rely heavily on funds provided through donations.
“Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society employs less than 200 people,” said Nelson. “More than 4,500 volunteers are involved in every aspect of our operations.”
Because NMCRS doesn’t have many workers on payroll, the funds they receive go directly to the Navy-Marine Corps team and their families.
“The money that Sailors donate go into the big pot for big Navy, so whenever they need it, it’s there,” said Bryant.
To donate during the fund drive in March or any time during the year, Sailors can see a Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society representative in their department or through the local service office in Newport News, Virginia. Sailors can choose to have an allotment taken from their paycheck, donate cash, or donate through methods of digital monetary transfer.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.