By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
Because of the efforts of the Southeastern NC (SENCLAND) Chapter of MOAA, 24 members of the military community thus far have received more than $10,000 in financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter submitted on behalf of those in need applications for emergency financial relief through The MOAA Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.
The fund offers financial assistance for active duty servicemembers and veterans, and their spouses and caregivers, who are experiencing unexpected, short-term financial setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Prior to the pandemic, The MOAA Foundation was not directly involved in emergency relief services,” said Amanda Centers, vice president of development. “However, it didn’t take long to realize the need would far outweigh current available resources — especially for those not eligible for support from traditional service relief societies. We could not stand by and watch residual effects of the pandemic threaten livelihoods of servicemembers and veterans and their families."
The foundation launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund on April 15 and, thanks to the generosity of donors, has been able to provide grants of up to $500 to help with rent and utilities payments, housing for homeless veterans and families, meal assistance, and other needed items.
When members of the SENCLAND Chapter learned about the fund, they quickly got to work spreading the word about its availability and distributing applications to individuals in need who reached out to the chapter.
“There are a lot of military members in our six-county area, which includes [Marine Corps Base] Camp Lejeune and numerous National Guard and Reserve units,” said Brig. Gen. Jim Carper, ARNG (Ret), chapter president. “We decided we wanted to take it on to help anyone we could.”
Chapter members contacted as many of those units as they could as well as county veterans’ coordinators and councils. They also reached out to the Junior ROTC (JROTC) senior instructors at 18 local high schools and the veterans centers at local colleges and universities.
“We provided the information about the fund and the criteria and told them that if they knew someone who might qualify, to contact our chapter and request an application,” Carper explained.
To date, about 90 people have requested applications from the chapter; about 50 completed the application, though not everyone met the eligibility requirements.
To qualify, applicants must:
- Be currently serving (including National Guard and Reserve), the spouse of an active duty servicemember, a veteran with an honorable discharge, or a caregiver of the same
- Provide proof of negative financial impact because of the COVID-19 crisis
- Have exhausted available liquid assets.
The COVID-19 Relief Fund has disbursed over $36,000 to more than 70 applicants, according to Centers. The success of the effort relies heavily on MOAA chapters to get the word out about the grants in their communities.
“More than 20 chapters have participated, but nearly one-third of the applications we received have been facilitated through the SENCLAND Chapter,” she said. “Their dedication to helping those in need in their community epitomizes servant leadership and what it means to ‘Never Stop Serving.’ The work they are doing is truly inspiring.”
Regarding the number of applications the SENCLAND Chapter has submitted, Carper said: “We weren’t trying to compete with anybody. We just think it’s a great program and really needed by a lot of people.”
[RELATED: More Chapters News From MOAA]
This effort is just one of many ways the SENCLAND Chapter gives back to the military community. Over the past four years, the SENCLAND Chapter has had active programs to support JROTC and veteran scholarships as well as veteran outreach programs. Through the generosity of its members and a 2020 MOAA Community Outreach Grant, the chapter will present $6,000 in JROTC scholarships, $11,000 to veterans pursuing college degrees at local community colleges and universities, and $2,200 in support of veteran outreach in 2020.
“We’re doing the best we can to maintain connection and contribute to the needs of veterans in our community,” Carper said.
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.
Support MOAA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund
Donate to help The MOAA Foundation address emerging needs among currently serving and former uniformed servicemembers, retirees, and their families.