MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
When a young Diana Walters received a Red Cross message about her sister's death in an automobile accident, she was sure she would not be able to go home to see her one last time. The then-private first class did not have enough money, and her parents were struggling to pay for her sister's funeral expenses. So when Walters's command asked her if she was going home she answered with a resolute no, and offered no details as to why.
"I didn't want to tell them I didn't have the money," said Walters. "But they got it out of me, and once they did they said, ‘We can get you home. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society can help you get there.'"
Now, a staff sergeant with II Marine Expeditionary Force, Walters recalls just how much it meant to have a resource in a time of need.
"It meant the world to me," said Walters.
The NMCRS, a private nonprofit military aid agency, has helped many service members with a wide range of problems. Some follow the vein of Walter's story of a tragic emergency, while other cases feature stories from the everyday, the case of a young Marine who gets married and visits the NMCRS to work out a budget.
People visit the NMCRS for many reasons. Sometimes, problems they face may be avoidable; a recent service member visited because he faced eviction after he and his wife used most of their money when they took a trip home for a long weekend. They were provided with budget counseling.
"They don't judge you," said Walters. "They're there to help. They're not trying to make you feel bad. They're not trying to get you in trouble. They're strictly a resource that has your best interest at heart. You don't have anything to lose by going there. You can only gain knowledge and be in a better place after you walk out the door. "
It has been more than a decade since Walters faced an earth-shattering moment in her life. More than a year ago, she faced another momentous occasion - motherhood - and the NMCRS was there for her then too.
She felt it was important to go to the Budget for Baby classes held by the organization.
"My husband is a full-time student and we're a single-income family," said Walker. "It just made sense to me even though I'm a (staff noncommissioned officer) to go (to the class)," said Walker.
As a new parent, she was unsure of what to expect. She didn't know what to buy or what to budget for. The class gave her detailed examples of all of it, and left her more confident. But, they gave her something more, a sense of home that she may not have been able to get otherwise.
"It was amazing," said Walker. "When you go through the class, they give you a free layette. Inside of the layette, they had a hand-knitted blanket that a volunteer had made. They really do care. My son loves that blanket. It's the softest blanket in the world. My parents have passed away and my mother couldn't knit him one. To get that from somebody, it meant a lot."