Established in 1904, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization that provides Sailors and Marines, their families, and survivors with financial, educational, and emergency assistance with “dignity, self-respect, and confidentiality.” Offices are located on or near most U.S. Navy and Marine Corp installations.
As the United States was formed, the nation couldn’t afford benefits packages for its military – let alone the dependents and survivors of the Armed Forces. Recognizing the need for organized assistance, several Naval officers, their wives, and civilian friends incorporated the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society on Jan. 23, 1904. That year, the Society gave $9,500 to widows and families of service members, which would amount to about $270,000 today.
Financial Assistance and Counseling
The Society can provide service members with interest-free loans or grants for urgent financial needs. Common situations include financial help with food, rent/mortgage, utilities, essential home repairs, security and utility deposits, car expenses, medical expenses, delayed entitlements, and funeral expenses. There is no application fee, and the appointment with a Society caseworker is free. Additionally, caseworkers will help the service member and his/her family with budget planning and resources.
Eligibility: Active duty or retired Sailors and Marines, eligible family members with military ID, surviving spouses, and/or Reservists on active duty for at least 30 days.
Quick Assist Loan (QAL)
For service members who find themselves in an emergency financial situation, the Society offers an interest-free loan for any amount up to $500. Eligible Sailors and Marines must apply in person, and there is no application fee or appointment required. The QAL must be paid back within 10 months.
To be eligible, the service member must satisfy all of the following requirements: Be on active duty in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps, have enough time left on your contract to repay the loan, have no unpaid or outstanding interest-free loans from the Society, and have no disciplinary actions in the past six months (or pending) that impact your pay or rank.
The Society offers interest-free loans and grants for undergraduate/post-secondary education at an accredited 2- or 4-year university, technical, or vocational institution in the United States. Financial assistance is available to children of active duty, retired, or deceased Sailors and Marines or spouses of active duty and retired Sailors and Marines. Loans and grants range from $500 to $3,000 per academic year and are payable to the student’s academic institution. Additionally, the funds are only to be used for tuition, books, fees, room, and board. Read the full eligibility requirements and download the application here.
Health Education and Post-Combat Support
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society supports the physical and mental health needs of Sailors and Marines through two programs:
The Visiting Nurse Program
Based out of local offices, visiting nurses provide free, in-home visits to active duty or retired service members and/or their families with newborns. Visiting nurses answer questions and provide health education on a variety of topics including, but not limited to, questions about medications, medical care, and chronic medical conditions. For new parents, nurses can provide baby weight checks and answer questions related to breastfeeding and general newborn care. Please note that visiting nurses do not provide emergency or bedside care, but help patients understand their options for better taking care of themselves and their families.
Combat Casualty Assistance Visiting Nurse Program
Understanding the help that veterans need after physical, emotional, or mental trauma stemming from combat, this program deploys nurses to anywhere in the U.S. to visit Sailors and Marines in the hospital, rehabilitation centers, or in their home. Traveling nurses help service members understand their injuries, diagnosis, and rehabilitation process. They’re also available to assess individual issues and recommend resources. This program is available to anyone who served with the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn – regardless of current military status.
Other Society Programs
Budget for Baby
Available to expecting parents, this workshop helps families develop a budget and provides tips on how to save money. Plus, attendees receive a free Junior Sea Bag which includes a handmade baby blanket.
Available to Sailors or Marines traveling to visit a sick or dying loved one or family members visiting a Sailor or Marine who is severely ill or injured, this program provides an interest-free loan for emergency travel.
Located on base, Society Thrift Shops offer affordable prices on gently-used clothing, military uniforms, and household goods. All items are carefully inspected to ensure good quality.
When a natural disaster strikes, the Society provides both pre- and post-disaster relief. For pre-disaster relief, the Society can help buy needed items such as gas, temporary lodging, food, and baby formula. For post-disaster relief, the Society offers interest-free loans to pay for insurance deductibles or replace lost items such as food and furniture. Assistance is also available for personal catastrophic events such as fires and floods.
To learn more about the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, visit www.nmcrs.org.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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