When I PCS’ed to Hawaii, I wanted to do something that would help me keep my resume current, make friends, and give back to the military community. I am so glad that I found the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS).
After I became a volunteer, I learned that NMCRS has some amazing resources available to members of the Navy and Marine Corps and their families. I also quickly learned that many people don’t know that these resources exist, so today I’m going to share them with you. They can be truly life-changing!
Some of these resources are only available for service members, but there are some that you can utilize without your spouse with you. And really, if it benefits your spouse, it benefits you, too!
NMCRS offers interest-free loans to Sailors and Marines as well as retirees.
Loans under $500 are called Quick Assist Loans. You don’t need an appointment or a reason for them. Loans over $500 require an appointment and a qualifying reason, like food, rent/mortgage, utilities, home repairs, establishing a new residence, including security and utility deposits, car expenses, such as repairs and insurance deductibles, medical expenses, military pay shortage, and more.
Service members work out a payment plan that works for them. You can pay your loan back over a few months or over a longer period.
While there is a limit to the amount of loans you can receive from NMCRS, there are special provisions and loans available to help service members – such as the covid rapid response loan. If you aren’t sure if you qualify, make an appointment anyway by contacting your local NMCRS office.
Loans for Spouses During Deployment
Before a Sailor or Marine deploys, they can fill out a Preauthorization Form, which allows a spouse to get a loan without their spouse present during deployment. These loans go up to $3,000 and are also interest-free. They could help cover the costs of unexpected emergencies that can come up during deployment.
If your spouse is deployed and you haven’t gotten them to fill out a preauthorization form, you may still be able to get a loan on your own by using a POA. You can contact your local office for more information.
Financial Counseling & Budgeting
Sailors and Marines can meet with a Caseworker to help them create a budget that works for them. Spouses can also do a budget on their own without their spouse present. This was my job when I was a volunteer.
When I was a Caseworker, many times, the service member and spouse would come in together. But if your spouse can’t join you, I still encourage you to go on your own!
You will leave with a printed budget, and your Caseworker will email you your budget as a spreadsheet so that you can tweak it as many times as you want at home. You can come in to make a budget and talk to a Caseworker as many times as you want. It’s a great idea to make a new budget with each new life event – marriage, deployment, new baby, PCS, etc.
Budget for Baby Class
The Budget for Baby class helps families plan for a new budget. It also gives you lots of tips on how to save money on baby items. As a bonus, it can also introduce you to other expectant Navy and Marine Corps parents! You also receive a gift for attending. Some classes are currently virtual, some are in person.
To find a class, click here.
Many submarine bases have NMCRS thrift stores and/or used uniform stores. Although the items vary from store to store, many have everything from household goods to books to clothes to baby items. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I got so many things for her at the NMCRS thrift stores.
Everything in the thrift stores are donated, so the prices are very low. Prices vary, but I have gotten books for her for a quarter, and clothes for her for a few dollars. I even got a dress for a sub ball, and my husband was able to find an entire new dress uniform.
Click here to learn more about thrift shops and to find one near you! You can also donate if you are looking to purge pre-PCS!
If a service member has to travel home to see a sick or dying loved one and has approved emergency leave, the NMCRS can provide an interest-free loan to cover travel costs. You don’t need an appointment for emergency travel – just come into the office. More information about emergency travel loans can be found here.
If your home is affected by a fire, flood, or other natural disaster, or if you have to evacuate the base, a service member can apply for an interest-free loan to help with temporary lodging, food, diapers, formula, insurance deductibles, and more. These loans can also help cover replacing damaged or lost household goods.
The NMCRS also has a Visiting Nurse Program. Registered nurses travel to the homes of active duty or retired Sailors and Marines for a variety of health conditions. They also travel to families with newborns and can help with breastfeeding, provide weight checks, and answer questions that new parents may have.
Are you in school? Children and spouses of active duty or retired Sailors and Marines are eligible for education assistance, including underrate and Master’s degrees. For more information and the application, click here.
If you are looking to expand your resume, make friends, and help service members and their families, volunteering at NMCRS is for you! As a former volunteer, I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve made wonderful friends, learned a lot about managing finances for my own family, and have had the chance to meet and work with some incredible Sailors and Marines. They also reimburse for childcare and mileage expenses.