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NEWS | March 9, 2011

NMCRS helps with financial burdens

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Hudson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

In the course of a lifetime, unexpected events happen. These events can be breath-taking, joyous and unfortunately, sometimes devastating.

For more than 100 years, the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society has been here to offer Sailors and Marines their services, providing financial assistance in order to help individuals through life's unexpected 'bumps-in-the-road.'

"My job and primary goal is to help Sailors and Marines reach financial self-sufficiency," said David Hastings, director of NMCRS on Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station. "We can help them reach self sufficiency through services such as budgeting guidance and raising their awareness about financial stability overall."

Many Sailors and Marines may feel as though they are financially sound when dealing with costly events such as funerals, flights home to reach an ailing family member or even an unexpected car repair. However, many of those same individuals often find themselves falling victim to predatory lenders or other fast money lenders to help them during that time of need.

"Unfortunately, a lot of the young Sailors in today's Navy have very little financial experience," said Mr. Hastings. "Predatory lenders with high Annual Percentage Rates targeting these young members bank on the fact that they do not understand how much that APR is going to cost them in the long run.

"With the help of Fleet and Family Support Center's financial specialists, we try to raise the level of knowledge in financial stability by providing individuals with both guidance and funds to help them through the time of emergency they are facing at that moment," he continued.

NMCRS not only offers loans and grants, but offers their newest program to members, the Quick Assist Loan, where members can request up to $300 and receive the funds within 15 minutes with no questions asked.

"The QALs was the NMCRS's way of answering the problem we were having with individuals using predatory lenders in order to get themselves out of financial problems," said Mr. Hastings. "We want Sailors and Marines to avoid these places. Here in South Carolina it is actually against the law for any of the money lender services to assist military members with loans having an interest rate more than 35 percent, which is still comparably high in comparison to our loans which have no interest rate at all."

For one Sailor, Seaman Stephen Hargis from Navy Munition Command, who found himself in a financial hiccup, NMCRS helped relieve him of his financial burden quickly.
"The NMCRS is a great source to reach out to if you should find yourself in a bind," he said. "I have never run into any problems when dealing with them. Do not be afraid to ask for their assistance; they are definitely there to help individuals financially in any way that they can, not to judge people on why they may be asking for the money."

According to JB Charleston-WS NMCRS fund drive coordinator, Lt. j. g. William Sever, the NMCRS is one of the many benefits offered to service members that can be used as a quick financial relief to take care of emergency situations.

"On average, a service member should be saving up and setting aside at least two months worth of their pay just for emergency purposes," he said. "Unfortunately, that emergency fund only goes so far and a lot of times it's just not enough to cover all the expenses that get thrown at you during those times of need.

"NMCRS is not there just for the ill-financially-prepared individuals, but for the unlucky ones too," Lieutenant Sever concluded. "Being financially stable is each individual's own responsibility, but for those unexpected bumps in the road, NMCRS will help."