With a professional background as an attorney, Jaime Kunce understands how to approach casework. “I’m used to meeting with people one-on-one who have problems, so casework seemed like a natural fit,” she explained. “You have to have that calm personality and be able to take everything in. Some of the stories are hard to hear. There’s a lot going on in a lot of service members’ lives.”
Kunce’s husband is a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Marine Corps, and Jaime first learned about the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society when the couple arrived at Camp Lejeune. She began volunteering at NMCRS New River, on another base near Camp Lejeune, and has been doing casework off and on for the past four years while her husband has been deployed.
“I live closer to New River, and they needed help when I went to volunteer,” Kunce recalled. “I like it that it’s a smaller base. It’s a tight community and really feels like a family. Especially if you have a spouse who’s gone a lot, the best part of volunteering—besides helping service members—is to have that second family and close knit community. All of our paid staff are military wives or married to retirees. It’s nice to have seasoned military spouses to commiserate with and get advice from if you need it.” That community especially came in handy when Kunce’s son, now two years old, was born prematurely. She said colleagues from NMCRS brought meals and offered support when she needed it most.
Since becoming a volunteer, Kunce has realized the variety of circumstances that lead clients to the Society. “You might think it’s just service members who have money management problems, but there are a lot of people who have had bad luck who need help,” she said. “I didn’t realize before that dental bills can be a big problem, even after dental insurance, and that a lot of people just can’t afford the expense of emergency leave.”
This past April Kunce received a commendation from NMCRS President Admiral Steve Abbot, praising Kunce in particular for demonstrating “devotion and leadership” in her work as casework lead, in which she both worked directly with clients as well as training new caseworkers.
Kunce expects to take a break from volunteering this fall both because her husband received orders to attend Columbia University in NYC for a year and because she is pregnant and due in September.
“This will be a completely different experience after so many years of living in a military community,” she said. “It’s sad to leave NMCRS—volunteering has been the highlight of my time here. But it’s good to know the Society is always there in the future wherever we go.”