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Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, Training and Education Command; Master Gunnery Sgt. Andre Mayhue, Transportation Branch chief; Sgt. Maj. Gerald Saunders, Marine Corps Base Quantico; and Sgt. Maj. Thomas Johnson, Headquarters and Service Battalion, sign pledge forms to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society at a Professional Military Education Session held Apr. 13 at The Clubs at Quantico.

Photo by Adele Uphaus-Conner

Senior enlisted leaders sign pledges to NMCRS

21 Apr 2016 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

Ten senior enlisted leaders aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico came together to sign pledge forms to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) at a Professional Military Education session held Apr. 13 at The Clubs at Quantico.

The leaders who pledged their financial support to the Society were Sgt. Maj. Gerald Saunders, MCBQ sergeant major; Sgt. Maj. Thomas Johnson, Headquarters and Service Battalion; Sgt. Maj. Robert “Grant” Van Oostrom, Manpower and Reserve Affairs; Sgt. Maj. David Jobe, Combat Development Command; Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, Training and Education Command; Sgt. Maj. George Sanchez, Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico; Senior Chief Petty Officer Marvin Kitchens, Naval Health Clinic Quantico emergency manager; Master Gunnery Sgt. Andre Mayhue, Transportation Branch chief; Master Gunnery Sgt. Robert Webber, senior enlisted advisor for Semper Fit and Exchange Services; and Master Gunnery Sgt. Justin Pham, logistics chief for G-4.

NMCRS is in the middle of its active duty fund drive, which runs through the end of April. Van Oostrom offered a few talking points about why NMCRS is a worthy cause to the packed room.

“I know some of you in here are making ends meet,” he said. “And you should never do anything without knowing the why. But this is our charity. It’s the only one solely dedicated to Marines and sailors.”

Van Oostrom told the service members the society has been in business since 1904 and that it offers three forms of monetary assistance: a no-interest loan, an outright grant or a combination of both. All assistance is confidential, so the Marine or sailor’s command will not be notified.

In 2015, 57,833 Marines and sailors received $45.8 million dollars in assistance from the Society.

“We love to give money away to help,” said Presha Merritt, NMCRS Quantico’s director, who has held her position for 21 years. She said that the society gives away almost double what it brings in.

NMCRS also supports widows, widowers and the children of Marines and sailors who have died, as well as wounded service members who are seen in their homes by the society’s visiting nurses.

“And by the way, the Society doesn’t receive any funds from the Department of Defense, other government agencies, or the Combined Federal Campaign,” Van Oostrom said. “So whatever you can give — whether it’s $1 or $2 a month — will make a difference.”

“Marines take care of their own,” Saunders said. “That’s been drilled into us since day one.”

He gave an example of a sergeant who is married with two small children, has to purchase airplane tickets for the whole family to travel home for a death in the family and then, a few days later, has his car break down.

“He might have saved for one of those instances, but not both,” Saunders said. “That’s where NMCRS can help. It works.”

To donate to the NMCRS active duty fund drive get a pledge form from your NMCRS unit coordinator. If you don’t know who your unit coordinator is, call Capt. John Irwin at 703-784-6488.

— Writer: auphausconner@quanticosentryonline.com