MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society was formed 100 years ago to help the widows and orphans of Marines and sailors. Today it still holds true to the cause of helping Marines, sailors and their families.
Not only does it still hold true to its original cause, but the society has also adapted to better serve today's service members by preparing them for any unforeseen financial situations that may occur.
Maybe you are prepared, but for some it is not so simple. For example, if a Marine or sailor gets deployed to Iraq, the last thing that they need to be thinking about is, "How is my wife going to pay rent or buy food?" or, "How will my husband be able to fix the car if it breaks?"
These are not worries that are prone to just those in combat situations, they can apply to any enlisted person. If anyone has questions, worries or concerns, they can ask the NMCRS for help.
Ron Grindle, director of the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, Parris Island office, was recently asked about the society and this is what he had to say.
Q. Can you briefly tell me how it helps the junior enlisted Marines and sailors?
A. First, we can help all ranks. We can help improve financial skills through budgeting and when necessary, provide financial assistance to help with basic living needs, such as rent, food, utilities, car insurance, car payment, and more.
Q. The transmission dropped out of my vehicle and I have to get it fixed. I now have all of these unexpected towing expenses and repair costs that I cannot afford. How can the NMCRS help me?
A. The NMCRS can help with the repairs. A written estimate is obtained to safeguard you from extraneous repairs you didn't authorize and a budget is completed to ensure repayment. Any NMCRS assistance involving vehicles is a loan, a no-interest loan, but still a loan.
Also, if you are on the road in the middle of nowhere, the local Red Cross Chapter can also provide the same assistance. Just be sure to ask for Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society and they should be able to contact our headquarters.
Q. If I were stationed in Iraq or on Temporary Assigned Duty and found out, with other bills, that we cannot afford to pay rent this month, how can the NMCRS help me?
A. I cannot say it enough. It is our job and desire to help our sailors and Marines wherever we can within established society policy. We need our service members thinking about their duties and responsibilities, especially when they may be in harm's way.
Should the service member deploy or go on extended TAD, especially if the service member is married, he or she should make sure they initiate a Power of Attorney or at least complete a pre-authorization with the local base society office that allows the spouse to receive NMCRS without the service member's specific consent. NMCRS must have the service member's consent since our "basis" is the service member.
Q. What circumstances call for either a loan or grant?
A. Depends on whether or not the individual Marine or sailor can afford to repay the loan or grant.
All loans are interest free...a good deal, in and of itself.
We always complete a budget whenever money is involved. First, to make sure service members are aware of their finances, and second to determine repay. No one is poor in the service; however, there are circumstances that can make it difficult from one payday to another. A grant, however, may be a solution for a temporary problem.
Q. How can the NMCRS help me to be responsible with the money that I am earning so that I will not spend unwisely or not plan for the future?
A. No one can make you responsible. However, we can, along with many other fine organizations aboard the Depot, provide financial tools and education that can improve your financial skills. As I said before, a budget is the society's primary tool for improving your awareness.
Q. What other resources are available to me?
A. First, many of the units may have trained financial counselors. For example, many Navy commands have command financial counselors that can help you develop a financial plan so that your expenses don't exceed your income. Also, and it is important for the service member to realize, if they think you they are going to have a difficult time meeting their rent, car payment, whatever, they should let their seniors know when they have a financial problem they can't resolve. They may have a resource that can solve the problem and they would much rather be proactive than reactive.
Also, the Community Services Division of the Marine Corps Community Services-South Carolina has wonderful counseling programs, as does the Navy Federal Credit Union and Fort Sill National Bank.
Q. My wife and I have recently found out that we are to have a baby, which was totally unexpected. What can the society do to guide me into this life changing experience?
A. Unexpected or not, the society offices offer " Budget for Baby " classes designed specifically for those first time parents regardless of rank. Whether it is your first baby, or not, anyone expecting is encouraged to attend our class. Your experience may be of benefit to the class. The class focuses on the financial aspects of having that baby; planning for future needs, perhaps what not to buy if you are short of funds, and hopefully, ideas where the family can save some money. As a "reward" for attending, the society provides a "sea bag" of baby items that can help out. Also, a blanket, knitted or crocheted by one of our society volunteers, is provided to let the service family know we are proud of their service and the society is here to help wherever we can.
Q. If something did happen, how do I go about receiving the help I need? Who decides whether I am in need?
A. The most difficult challenge is collecting the nerve to ask for help. If you seek NMCRS assistance there is help on virtually every Navy or Marine Corps facility. The Navy has offices aboard many ships. There is also a Web site you can visit at, www.nmcrs.org that can provide answers to your questions.
In the local area you may call the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society office on the Depot at 228-3512. The MCAS Beaufort office can be reached at 228-7357. No one needs to know you called or visited the office, however the service member's consent is always needed should the command be needed to help resolve a problem.
Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?
A. NMCRS is not a lending institution like a credit union or bank. Many service members get upset when we don't help with what they think is a need. For example, I can't help with consolidation loans, or help with credit card debt, but often times service members don't understand why. We receive our funding through donations collected from the active duty and retired communities and we take the responsibility of their donation very seriously.
Also, and this point is paramount, the society is predominantly a volunteer organization. Without the volunteer support the society receives, the support the active duty and retired communities receive would be severely restricted. Society offices are always on the lookout for qualified individuals willing to help other sailors and Marines.