CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines and sailors are being called upon to help contribute to the Active Duty Fund Drive for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society this year.
The ADFD is an initiative by NMCRS to raise awareness of the programs and services it provides to active duty Marines and sailors as well as raise funds, according to the relief society’s website.
Through outreach efforts conducted by Marine and Navy units across the world, the NMCRS has consistently provided a financial safety net for service members in need through the ADFD.
“Every year there’s the Combined Federal Campaign, which covers all of the charitable organizations that might be asking for people to donate,” said Capt. Thomas Flinders, a plans and operations officer for G-4 Supply and Logistics, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan and coordinator for ADFD. “Within the Navy and Marine Corps, there is one of those organizations that stand out because it is our own, and that is the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.”
The annual ADFD accrues approximately $10 million worldwide from service member donations which accounts for nearly half of contributions funding the relief society every year, according to Flinders.
“The relief society takes that (roughly $10 million) and turns it into $45 million to $50 million worth of assistance,” he said.
Assistance comes in the form of interest-free loans, grants, disaster assistance, combat casualty assistance visiting nurses and education to name a few.
NMCRS provides financial assistance to those in need and educates service members about finances and how to budget their income, especially for Marines and sailors starting families.
“What really sticks out to me about (NMCRS) is (it acts as) a safety net for the Marine Corps and the Navy,” Flinders said. “We can’t afford to lose Marines and sailors for things that are avoidable,” he explained.
Flinders drew a parallel between financial assistance and basic safety devices in cars. To him, small measures like seatbelts and airbags can help circumvent catastrophe the same way financial assistance from the relief society can prevent the Navy and Marine Corps from losing one of their own to financial hardship.
“The more knowledge sailors and Marines have about our resources, programs and services (and when and how to get assistance), the more operationally ready they will be,” according to the relief society’s philosophy. “When you contribute to the ADFD, you are ensuring the Society will be able to help your shipmates or fellow Marines and their families when the unexpected happens.”
The objective of the program is not to provide hand-outs, but hand-ups, according to Michelle McBride, the director of Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Okinawa.
“We provide an avenue that Marines and sailors may not otherwise have access to,” she said of the organization’s interest-free loans.
But by allowing the service member to pay back what he or she owes to the program, McBride says it is “empowering them to figure out what got them in the situation they’re in and how they can get out of it and prevent (financial) problems in the future.”
March 16, Col. Thomas A. Pecina, the commanding officer of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, spoke to Marines, sailors and civilians about the Society’s importance at the Camp Foster Community Center, Okinawa, Japan.
During the event, representatives from Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, were presented with awards as the two units that raised the most money for the 2014.
Marines and sailors are encouraged to seek out their unit ADFD coordinators to contribute to the cause. For more information, visit http://nmcrsfunddrive.org.