News: Flag Officers kickoff Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society fund drive
Story by Joseph P Cirone
Rear Adm. Gary E. Hall, the commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University, told volunteer campaign coordinators from Navy and Marine Corps commands about the importance of the relief society and its work on behalf of active-duty Sailors, Marines, retirees, their families, survivors, widows and orphans.
Hall told the volunteer coordinators, "Your participation in this year's drive is critical." Cmdr. Philip Raimondo, executive officer of the Naval Support Activity Washington and the campaign manager, told them he appreciated the time and effort that they will contribute over the next six weeks.
Hall reported that NMCRS NCR provided Sailors and Marines with twice as much funding than was raised last year. Additionally, Navy-Marine Corps-wide, the society provided nearly five times more assistance, financially, than was raised. Repayment of no interest loans and corporate contributions make up the deficit, Hall explained.
Marine Corps Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Brig. Gen. Jon M. Davis, said he has relied upon the NMCRS to help his Sailors and Marines. "Throughout my career, there have been a couple of anchors I knew I could go to if needed. One of the places that was always there, always ready to help, was the society."
The relief society was founded in 1904 with the proceeds from the 1903 Army-Navy football game. The society established its first service center at the Washington Navy Yard with a staff of 19 volunteers helping widows and orphans.
Today, there are more than 250 service centers and more than 3,600 volunteers on bases and on ships, worldwide, providing a wider array of services to a larger group of constituents. "We are wherever the Navy and Marine Corps is in the world," proclaimed Melodie A. Weddle, director of the society's National Capital Region (NCR) office, located at the Navy Yard.
One in six Sailors and Marines needed assistance
Last year, the Society provided more than $47 million of direct financial assistance to eligible clients and handled more than 91,000 cases — an increase of 14,000 cases over 2008. "One in every six Sailors and Marines received assistance from the society. That is a pretty significant number," Weddle said.
Weddle said the NCR is one of the busiest service centers in the world. In addition to the financial assistance cases that are handled, NMCRS visiting nurses provided combat casualty assistance visits to 750 families in the region, providing information and support. 332 combat wounded warriors received assistance and 92 widows received monthly financial supplement grants.
Of the society's 28 Thrift Shops, three are in the National Capital Region. "We also gave out 6,500 layettes and the visiting nurses made over 43,000 visits society-wide," Weddle said.
New service for families during deployments
In 2009, the NMCRS began offering combat related services, working with warriors and their families to prepare for deployment. NMCRS personnel follow up with the family at least monthly throughout the deployment; making sure things at home are well and addressing matters for which the family needs assistance. Upon return of the deployed member, the society's personnel work with the families to help re-integration of the service member. The NMCRS works with the family as long as its services are needed.
This year's fundraising campaign runs until April 23, according to Cmdr. Philip B. Raimondo, executive officer of the Naval Support Activity Washington and the campaign manager.
"The purpose of the fund drive is not only to raise funds, but also to help raise awareness of the wide variety of financial, non-financial and educational services we offer. We can even help with things that we do not normally assist with, on a case by case basis, Weddle stated.
Contributing to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is easy. Active-duty personnel and retirees can choose from making a one-time cash or check donation; using a credit card online at the society's website; or having a monthly paycheck allotment, after completing an allotment request form, available at the command or from the society. Although not eligible for its services, civilian personnel may elect to make a one-time contribution via the website by check or cash, according to Weddle.
A point of contact has been designated for each command and will assist personnel interested in donating to the society. The NCR goal is to have 100 percent contact with all active-duty personnel by March 31 to give them an opportunity to contribute, Raimondo concluded.