Story by PO2 Vaughan Dill on 03/01/2017SILVERDALE, Wash. - The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) is offering Naval Base Kitsap service members a bit of extra financial security in the form of their Quick Assist Loan (QAL).
A QAL is an interest free loan of between $100 and $500 dollars, used for basic living expenses, transportation expenses, family emergencies, medical and dental expenses and offers active duty Navy and Marine Corps service members a better alternative to high interest payday loans.
"We encourage our clients to bring their emergency financial requests to us first rather than pay high interest through their banks or other financial institutions," said Kathy Phillips, director of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society-Bangor Office. "In most cases, clients will find out the same day whether or not we can assist them. We are usually able to assist approximately 97 percent of all requests."
To be eligible for a QAL, must be active duty Navy or Marine Corps, with no outstanding NMCRS loans, have no pending disciplinary action in the last 6 months, and have not filed, nor intend to file chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy.
"Service members are our client and must apply in person for all financial requests," said Phillips. "If the service member is deployed than the spouse may schedule an appointment as long as we have permission to assist from the service member."
To apply for a QAL, eligible service members must fill out a short application, then bring it to their NMCRS office along with their most recent full month leave and earnings statement and their military ID.
"This program began in 2008 as a direct result from Command feedback," said Kathy Phillips, director of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society-Bangor Office. "Service members must walk in to any local NMCRS office to apply and they are in and out of the office in approximately 15 minutes in most cases."
Spouses, retirees and service members who are ineligible for a QAL can schedule an appointment with the NMCRS for financial counseling and budgeting assistance. Service members who use the QAL program numerous times will also receive financial counseling.
"If service members are ineligible for a QAL, they always have the option to schedule an appointment with a caseworker to seek financial assistance in that way," said Phillips. "Spouses and retirees are not eligible to apply for Quick Assist Loans. They may schedule an appointment to seek financial assistance."
For every third QAL, NMCRS takes the extra step to provide some financial education which takes approximately 30 minutes. Every sixth QAL is done by an appointment and requires the service member to complete a full budget.
All loans are repaid directly from the service members pay via an allotment. Service members can select anywhere from 3 month up to 10 month repayment terms as long as they are under contract with the Navy and their LES supports the repayment terms.
NMCRS offers many other services to military members, including their budget for baby classes targeting expectant parents, a visiting nurse program that offers free, in-home visits by a registered nurse to provide health education and resource information, a combat casualty assistance visiting nurse program, financial assistance for short term emergency needs, education assistance, and disaster assistance.
"Service members on emergency travel can be seen on a priority walk-in basis and meet with a caseworker to make travel arrangements and get the clients to anywhere in the world wherever the emergency is occurring," said Phillips. "We must have approved leave papers and the military ID. If the leave papers are marked ordinary or regular leave vice emergency leave then we must have American Red Cross verification of the death or critical illness."
Anyone interested in getting involved with NMCRS and helping service members can also sign up to volunteer, and for those whose time doesn't permit may donate. NMCRS receives no funding from the Department of Defense and last year the Bangor and Bremerton office disbursed $1,150,143 in interest free loans and grants. In 2016, the active duty fund drive raised $355,969, accounting for 60 percent of all donations received.
"Since our beginning in 1904, we remain primarily a volunteer run organization," said Phillips. "Anyone interested in volunteering may apply through our website or stop by any local office for an application and interview."
There are two NMCRS offices currently serving Naval Base Kitsap, the Bangor office is located at 1001 Tautog Circle Bldg 1001; 360-396-6704, and the Bremerton office is located at 120 S Dewey St. Bldg 491; 360-627-2187.
For more information on the QAL program or the NMCRS, visit their website at www.nmcrs.org as well as their Facebook sites: https://www.facebook.com/NMCRSBANGOR and https://www.facebook.com/nmcrsbremerton