On March 5, we kicked off the annual Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Fund Drive onboard NAS Patuxent River. Since 1904, the Society has provided financial, educational and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, their eligible family members and survivors when in need.
Unlike the Combined Federal Campaign drive we completed in December, 100 percent of the money contributed to NMCRS is turned back out to Sailors and Marines (or their families) who need it. Sailors who contribute to NMCRS are Shipmates helping other Shipmates.
What does NMCRS provide for Sailors, Marines and their eligible family members?
Ÿ Interest-free loans or grants for emergency needs
Last year, NMCRS delivered $236,000 through interest-free loans and grants to Patuxent River Sailors and Marines and their families.
Ÿ Education loans and grants
Financial assistance is provided as an interest-free loan, normally repaid by allotment. If repayment would cause a hardship, assistance may be provided as a grant or a combination of grant and interest-free loan.
Ÿ Money Management
All NMCRS locations help service members and their families review and understand their monthly budget and make recommendations for improvements.
Ÿ Food Lockers
Some NMCRS offices operate food lockers which help feed clients when providing funds is not practical or appropriate. The NAS Patuxent River NMCRS office does not have a food locker, but it can issue you a check to the local commissary or commercial grocery store.
The layette program helps new and prospective parents learn about the impact a new baby can have on family finances. Clients learn about variations in pay and increased expenses, common consumer pressures targeting new parents, and entitlements available through both government and private sources. The layette itself (also known as a Junior Seabag) is issued to any eligible recipient who has recently had a baby or whose child will be born within six months. It consists of a coordinated set of bedding and clothing, a baby book, and a handmade item (either sweater set, afghan, or quilt), packed in a tote or duffel bag. Layettes will be given to recipients after they attend a "Budget for Baby" class or complete an individual budget session with a Society caseworker.
Ÿ Thrift Shops
Society Thrift Shops enable service members and their families to purchase used clothing, uniforms, and household items at a nominal cost. The sales income realized from thrift shops is returned to the Navy-Marine Corps community in the form of relief services. All items sold in NMCRS Thrift Shops are donated to the Society. NAS Patuxent River does not offer an NMCRS Thrift Shop.
Ÿ Visiting Nurse Services
The Society has a Visiting Nurse Program comprised of paid Registered Nurses at some field sites. Visiting Nurses provide health education and information about health-related resources. The Visiting Nurse makes hospital or home visits to eligible clients to improve their quality of life by promoting understanding of information about the individual's health issues. Visits are frequently made to new mothers and infants, to patients recovering from surgery, and to patients with chronic health problems. The Visiting Nurse will see patients of any age. Referrals to the Visiting Nurse may be made by military or civilian doctors, nurses or social workers, or the patient may contact the Visiting Nurse directly by calling the local NMCRS office at 301-342-4739. NAS Patuxent River has two visiting nurses available to help our veterans.
NMCRS offers many services to Sailors, Marines, and their families. During this year's campaign, I encourage you to consider making a contribution.
Next week, I'll share how NMCRS helped me back in my early Navy days. If NMCRS has helped you, please e-mail me at robert.m.cummingsna vy.mil and I'll use your story in next week's column.