By Reggie Jarrett
Editor Jax Air News
The annual Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) Fund Drive kick-off event was held at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) River Cove Catering and Conference Center Feb. 23.
The fund drive officially begins March 1 and runs through the end of April.  NMCRS does not receive any funding from the government, so they function solely off of donations.
"That is what we operate off all year long," said Monika Woods, director of NMCRS.
"We are very proud that it is by our own for our own, which means that we only have donations from inside our gate from the military community."
The event began with remarks from NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Haley and Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 Commanding Officer Capt. Christopher Kijek.
Lt. Sam Rose, also of VP-30, then introduced himself as the fund drive's coordinator for the Southeast Region, which includes more than 60 commands. "Today is an opportunity for me to introduce myself to everyone and let them know I am their number one resource," he said. 
Rose pointed out that the success of the fund drive depends on the active duty personnel chosen to represent their commands. "Each command selects highly motivated, Type A personalities," he said, "people who are passionate about the society and who are willing to step up to the plate to do this great job on top of the other work they are already doing."
NMCRS took in more then $300,000 in donations last year and turned that into more than $1.7 million that benefitted Sailors and Marines for things such as emergency leaves and assistance with everyday living expenses, like car payments and other monthly bills.
They are able to stretch every dollar donated by "recycling" the money over and over. Most of the money assisting service members is through interest-free loans. When a loan is repaid, that money is then used to help someone else.
One of the most important things NMCRS provides to help service members and their families are nurses. 
NMCRS has two types of nurses. One is the visiting nurse, which provides free in-home visits to active duty Sailors and Marines and to Navy and Marine families with newborns.
The other nursing program is the combat casualty nurse, who travel anywhere in the United States to visit anyone who has served in Afghanistan or Iraq, regardless of current military status. They treat not only the physical wounds that occur in combat, but the emotional scars as well. 
 I think they have the hardest job," Woods said
Woods introduced two medically retired combat veterans and their family members at the event who were helped by NMCRS nurses and staff.
"They are there for you emotionally, mentally and financially," said Rejane Glennon, mother of retired Marine Jesse Glennon. "They give you support and whatever resources you need. They are always there to listen and to help you get to where you need to be."
She said that at first her son was reluctant to seek help. "My son doesn't like to ask help from anyone. He doesn't see himself to be the hero that I know he is."
There did come a time when Jesse realized he needed to reach out for help. "Eventually, I just had to do it," he said. "It was the best thing I could do to help me get out of the situation that I was in."
NMCRS also helped the Glennon's with car-repair bills that gave them a safe mode of transportation for them and for Jesse's seven-year-old daughter.
Also speaking at the event was retired USMC Staff Sgt. Freddie Walker, who was medically retired in 2015, and his wife Anita.
"They were the search and rescue team in my life, " Walker said. "They mean the world to us."
After he got help from NMCRS, Walker's wife Anita said she finally got back the man she married. "It was like I was meeting my husband from 12 years ago," she said. "There was a happiness that I hadn't seen in over a decade. I thought that was gone for good."
NMCRS does not have a monetary goal for their fun drives. Instead, their goal is 100 percent contact of every active duty service member to give them an opportunity to donate.
"This is a phenomenal organization that is helpful for our Naval service and also for the quality of life for our Sailors and Marines and their families," Rose said. "They take care of the service member and their family for life, and this is our opportunity to raise money to support it."