Where to turn in a time of need
A quick guide to military aid societies
October 22, 2013 by Mark Dye
No matter what branch of the service you are in, there is an agency designed to help you with your financial needs. While it may appear as though there are few places to turn, these organizations can assist military service members with everything from finances to transportation home to buying food.
- Navy/Marines—The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency assistance to those in the Naval Services. They can provide assistance in the forms of emergency transportation, disaster relief assistance, child-care expenses, and family emergencies. The NMCRS also has The Layette Program, which helps new parents with bedding, clothing, and other items for their new family member. Offices are located at every Naval and Marine base, including those overseas.
- Air Force—For members of the Air Force, there is the Air Force Aid Society. Since 1942 this organization has helped relieve the financial distress of Air Force members and their families, as well as assisted them in financing higher education. While not an official USAF organization, the Air Force Aid Society works only with members of the Air Force, and helped over 34,000 people last year with short-term loans and grants, car repair, and emergency travel. Their offices are located at all Air Force bases worldwide, most of them in the Family Support Center.
- Army— "Helping the Army Take Care of Its Own" is the mission of Army Emergency Relief (AER). This program, conducted within the structure of the Army, helps with emergency financial aid. And since it is part of the Army’s structure, assistance can be obtained no matter where the service member is stationed. Whether for food, rent, travel, or educational assistance, the AER has been there since 1942 to help. They are located on every base, or you can reach them by phone at 703-428-0000.
- Coast Guard—Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) is focused on providing financial stability for its service members. This organization’s roots go back to 1924, and it has provided over $115 million in assistance since its inception. They can help members of the Coast Guard with debt management, financial assistance, and educational programs. And like the other agencies listed above, the CGMA is there to provide temporary, short-term relief-it is not designed to help those who live beyond their means. They have offices in 32 states and the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. You can also reach them by phone at 800-881-2462.
- American Red Cross—Each agency has agreements with each other, which means that if you need help, any of the societies above can assist you, regardless of the branch in which you serve. The American Red Cross can also provide you with contact information for your particular organization, or they can help you directly. You can reach them online at redcross.org.