By Rear Adm. Rick Williams, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) – whose active duty fund drive is on now – can help our people in time of need, when they need it the most. Tragedy can strike anyone, anytime.
In the past year, our NMCRS team here at Pearl Harbor helped 76 people go home on emergency leave to see immediate family members at their bedside or to attend funeral services.
As Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said earlier this year, “Taking care of our people is a top priority … NMCRS is a lifeline of support and financial assistance for those in need.”
NMCRS Pearl Harbor, led by Paul Belanger and his team of mostly volunteers, helped dozens of families who arrived here on permanent change of station orders while they awaited their temporary lodging allowance reimbursements to kick in. Help included food, shelter and utilities.
Whether through interest-free loans or outright grants, depending on individual situations, the Pearl Harbor office of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provided $836,000 in financial assistance last year to Sailors, Marines and Retirees and their family members.
Their quick assist loans are a safe and secure alternative to predatory loan sharks who prey on the military and their loved ones.
The Pearl Harbor Visiting Nurse, working through NMCRS, performed 787 newborn home visits last year for new Navy and Marine Corps families, answering parents’ questions and setting families up for success, including with budget classes, nutrition advice and even a homemade baby blanket knitted by NMCRS volunteers.
That kind of support is greatly appreciated by new moms and dads whose own parents and grandparents are likely thousands of miles away. And it directly enables and supports our mission, especially when we need to focus on the vital job at hand.
Belanger’s team helped 28 clients with interest-free loans to repair their vehicles.
The Pearl Harbor NMCRS Thrift Shop served 5,600 customers last year and raised more than $60,000 to support assistance programs. Thanks to the thrift shop, Sailors and their families were able to purchase household items, children’s clothing, uniforms and other necessities.
Most of all, NMCRS is there in times of crisis. Remember, tragedy can come at any time.
Paul told me about a service member’s wife who requested emergency travel because a family member died suddenly. Her husband had been deployed for some time and money was tight. NMCRS came to the rescue and assisted her with an interest-free loan so she could travel. She was able to make it back home in time to attend the funeral. Later she expressed her profound thanks to her case worker and NMCRS.
Young families can be hit with unexpected bills. Retirees can face costly medical or moving expenses. Returning warfighters can fall victim to predatory loan schemes.
Let’s encourage all of our shipmates to learn about the programs and services available at NMCRS. Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is helping us meet our mission by taking care of our people in time of need.
If you are an active duty Sailor or Marine working at Pacific Missile Range Facility, Marine Corps Base Hawaii or here at the joint base, help may be available in the form of counseling, loans or grants.
Please join me in thanking everyone at Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. I appreciate also the good work of Fleet Logistics Command Pearl Harbor, keyworkers, supporters and volunteers in coordinating this year’s campaign.