by Carolyn Gray NAS Pensacola Public Affairs
Military life can feel overwhelming at times, especially as a new member or new spouse. Questions regarding financial assistance, budgeting for a newborn, unexpected emergency travel, interest-free loans and grants and so much more can be answered at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS).
The mission of the NMCRS is to provide financial, educational and other assistance to service members, eligible family members and survivors.
In 1904, several naval officers, wives of naval officers and civilian friends saw the need for more formal and organized assistance. The NMCRS was incorporated on January 23 of that year. Initial funding came from the proceeds of the 1903 Army-Navy football game held at Franklin Field, Philadelphia. In its first year, the NMCRS gave $9,500 to widows and families of enlisted service men.
Today, the society has 187 offices on military installations within the United States and nine offices overseas. Volunteers have been the backbone of the NMCRS for more than 100 years and make up more than 90 percent of the workforce. Volunteers make it possible for donated funds to directly assist Sailors, Marines and their families. In 2018, functions of the non-profit organization were conducted by 4,396 volunteers.
Cheryl Milca is the communications lead for the Pensacola office onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. She has volunteered for the NMCRS since 1999 while stationed with her husband at three military installations.
“Volunteering with the society has been very rewarding. I’ve had a chance to learn new skills, make new friends and it has also been a way for me to give back to the military community,” Milca said.
As the communications lead, Milca’s mission is to bring more awareness to the programs offered through the society.
“The commands do a great job at spreading the word about our services, but there are still military families out there that are not aware of what we offer. So, we have to do more at reaching everyone,” said Milca.
When asked what the most popular service is offered by the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, with a smile, Mila said our quick assistance loans. No-interest quick assist loans are available to active duty Sailors and Marines to meet financial needs. There’s no application fee and no appointment required. Service members must apply in person and the process takes about 20 minutes. If eligible, interest-free loans are available for any amount up to $500.
Milca also stressed the importance of the society’s Visiting Nurse (VN) Program. It’s a program that has been a part of the society since 1922. The nurses act as advocates, providing families the health information and resources needed. The society’s visiting nurses work through many of the offices, which are located on Navy and Marine Corps bases.
“Our registered nurses travel within a reasonable distance of their office to provide free in-home visits to active duty or retired Sailors and Marines and Navy and Marine Corps families with newborns.”
In 2018, visiting nurses conducted 23,230 home visits and other contacts with mothers and newborns, elderly retirees, widows and widowers.
“The society’s visiting nurses are a blessing and a help to military families,” said Camille Terruso, a volunteer at the NMCRS Thrift Store onboard Corry Station. “Working with the society has been a great way for me to make a positive contribution to the military.”