Here’s financial help for military families caught in a coronavirus dilemma
As military families grapple with thousands of different difficult situations that the coronavirus has brought to their lives, military relief societies want people to know there are a number of ways they can provide financial assistance.
With the temporary restriction of Permanent change of station moves, some families may have already had their household items picked up and may need a different way of life. In other cases, spouses may have lost their jobs or their income has been severely reduced, and the family may struggle to make ends meet.
Depending on the situation, the relief societies – Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid Society, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society – may offer assistance in the form of grants or zero-interest loans.
Army emergency relief: Recognizing that soldiers and their families can be affected by quarantines and that sometimes staff members cannot meet in person, officials have implemented an online process for those who cannot meet in person with their local manager. AER, allowing them to submit requests for assistance by e-mail and secure transmission of documents. Eligible soldiers or their family members with a special power of attorney must follow the procedures outlined here. To date, two soldiers have requested assistance, due to PCS orders which have been affected by the travel restrictions.
For groups that have standard eligibility for AER benefits – active duty soldiers, retirees, spouses and children – the AER works with the military to support these groups, officials said. There are more than 30 categories of assistance they can claim, such as the payment for temporary housing in the case of a family who was about to do the PCS, and who sold their house before obtaining the ‘stop movement order; or pay emergency temporary living expenses for a spouse who has been laid off due to the impacts of the coronavirus.
AER Director Retired Lt. Gen. Ray Mason sent a letter on March 16 to leaders of the Army Reserve Component advising them that the AER will allow eligibility for soldiers from Army Reserve and Guard on a case-by-case basis in response to extreme or unusual financial hardship. For non-Title 10 soldiers who are determined to be eligible, they may apply for assistance in the form of grants or zero-interest loans.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance: This rescue company also offers an online assistance request process, for those who cannot or do not want to come to the base. Coast Guard members can complete the form on web page, and send it by e-mail to their local representative of the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. CGMA offers loans of up to $ 6,000 for lost wages of a spouse; child care needs due to school closures; and costs during quarantine, such as accommodation and food, said retired Rear Admiral Cari Thomas, CEO of the relief company. The organization also offers limited grants for modification fees that are not waived, she said. Members can choose to get their assistance by check in the mail or by electronic deposit.
Air Force Aid Society: Each Airman and Family Readiness Center has essential emergency workers, including one person qualified to administer Air Force Aid Society assistance, according to the organization’s CEO, retired Lt. Gen. John D Hopper, Jr. These employees will be able to do business even if the base goes out. “A global pandemic will present challenges that we have not yet imagined. The most important element in providing support is the local commander, ”said Hopper. “We will work with the people on the ground to shape the infrastructure according to their needs. Ultimately, we remain flexible, available and ready to help meet the needs of our Airmen and their families. “
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society: “We are here and open, to help as much as possible to get through the crisis,” said spokeswoman Gillian Gonzalez. There have been about a dozen requests for help with expenses primarily related to being “caught in the PCS net, with their household items already picked up,” she said. “If you’re stuck, held up, we can help you. Among the programs they offer is the Quick Assist Loan, a faster process that offers up to $ 500 in zero-interest loans, but there are other loan and grant programs as well.