Christopher Bradley needed to shake things up. After high school, his efforts to live on his own while attending college and working part-time floundered. Soon, he was working full-time at Starbucks and back living at home. “I wasn’t the best person I could be,” he said. “I decided I wanted to do something that was bigger than myself. A year later I was at Navy Boot Camp.”
Joining the Navy proved to be the catalyst that Bradley needed to mature. “The first time I came home, people were telling me how much I’d grown and how much more responsible I was. When you have to worry about other people, you can’t just worry about yourself. I’m the oldest of six, so I’d been responsible – but I became a better person. I wasn’t selfish or self-absorbed anymore.”
After Boot Camp, Bradley remained at Naval Station Great Lakes for two years, training to become an electronics technician. During that time, Bradley’s paternal grandfather died unexpectedly and he needed to return to home to San Diego quickly. This was especially tough because Bradley had lived with his paternal grandparents for a while growing up. He called on the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society for help. “It was between paydays and I didn’t have the money for an airline ticket,” he recalled. “The Society helped.”
After Great Lakes, Bradley was homeported in San Diego, serving for three years aboard the USS Stockdale. Thankfully, his interactions with the Society weren’t always during sad times. “When I was at the MCRD office of the Society in San Diego doing a budget, they gave my wife and I two gift baskets for my twins that were about to be born. The baskets had all sorts of baby essentials, including handmade crocheted blankets made by NMCRS volunteers. A little over two years later and my twins still have the blankets in their rooms. Those baskets were awesome and unexpected.”
Later, Bradley was stationed in Bangor, Washington when he received more bad news—this time his maternal grandfather had died. Once again, Bradley went to NMCRS for assistance with emergency travel expenses so he could go home and help his mom. Then, sadly, his maternal grandmother died 10 days later, and returned to San Diego for the memorial service for both his grandparents.
“At this point, I felt like I should have a death plan contingency fund,” Bradley said. “But that’s so gloomy. I do know that having NMCRS always there is reassuring.”
Bradley also received a Quick Assist Loan from the Society to pay an exceptionally high electrical bill. “The electric company overcharged me, which is now under investigation,” he recalled. “I’m hoping to get that money back.”
After all the assistance that the Society provided to Bradley, he decided it was time to give back. “I got involved in the Active Duty Fund Drive because I’d seen the numbers and I know how much they receive in donations compared to how much they give and it’s nowhere near equal.”
“I’m pretty financially responsible, but you never know when you’re going to need help, so why not contribute to the Society just in case? Most of the people getting help from the Society are junior Sailors, E4 and below, who don’t have the savings to turn to in an emergency. It’s hard, and I know how it is, so I wanted to do what I could to help.”
Bradley gave presentations about the Society during All Hands training, and he walked around his command talking to Shipmates. “I would tell them how the Society helped me and encourage them to support the Fund Drive.”
Bradley’s command raised more money in this year’s ADFD than the past two years combined.
Thank you Petty Officer Second Class Bradley for supporting your Shipmates and the Society!
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso