by Ryan Labadens, U.S. Navy Public Affairs

There’s an old quote that starts off with the phrase “The best laid plans,” which people sometimes say when noting how things can go wrong no matter how carefully they prepare. Such is the case with many types of plans, including financial ones, which is why the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) has programs in place like financial assistance, to help fill in for those times when money gaps may occur in the lives of service members.

According to William “Bill” Whitmire, NMCRS Gulfport director at the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport, Mississippi, many of the financial assistance cases NMCRS helps out Sailors and Marines with often involve issues of gaps in pay, whether this involves government errors that can cause delays in payment due to a permanent change of station (PCS) move, repaying overpayments in their basic allowance for housing (BAH) that service members may have been unaware of during their PCS, last-minute reenlistments that can sometimes lead to payment delays, or reservists mobilizing, which can sometimes lead to unexpected delays in receiving payment while on active-duty orders.

“These types of delays can happen and can place a lot of unnecessary financial stress on people, especially when they’re going through all of the other processes involved in changing duty stations, reenlisting, or any other change-of-life moments that can occur in their careers or personal lives,” said Whitmire.

Whitmire said that when service members experience pay errors or delays, NMCRS can advance service members the amount of money they need that is owed to them by the government, and service members can then repay the loans back to NMCRS once their government pay issues have been resolved.

It’s called a Bridge Loan, effectively “bridging” the gap in the service member’s pay until government payments catch up.

“These loans help the Navy and Marine Corps to put an immediate solution in place for the service member while the pay issue is working toward resolution, which in some cases can take some time,” said Whitmire.

Whitmire noted that this year alone, out of the more than 350 financial assistance cases NMCRS has handled onboard NCBC, nearly 40 of them have been related to pay issues.

He also mentioned that with many of the changes that have been taking place in recent years with the Navy consolidating their pay systems, this has sometimes led to bumps in the road for service members’ pay. NMCRS is there to help smooth out those kinds of issues when they arise, he said.

“We want to make sure that when pay problems do occur, we’re there to help them with that when they happen,” said Whitmire.

Unlike the NMCRS Quick Assist Loan, which is limited to $500, Whitmire said the amount provided by the Bridge Loan can be tailored to the individual needs of the service member’s financial situation, depending on how much they are owed and how much they need.

Regardless of the type of loan, however, all loans provided by the Society are interest free and tailored to the service member’s needs.

“The Society is very flexible in getting to solutions that are in the best interests of our clients. In a situation, say where the Navy estimated a pay issue to be resolved by December, and come December it still isn’t resolved, the service member can come back to NMCRS and we can push back the repayment to coincide with the latest projected resolution date.  It’s a quick and easy process as long as they get to us early enough to submit the allotment change before the DFAS (Defense Finance Accounting Service) cutoff date,” said Whitmire.

For more information about financial assistance and other services offered by the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, visit their website at www.nmcrs.org or the NMCRS Gulfport Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nmcrsgulfport, or reach out to NMCRS Gulfport staff at (228) 871-2610 or gulfport@nmcrs.org.