Last June, Bruce Blair received a terrible call at his home in Sacramento, California. One of his sisters was calling from his hometown in Mississippi to say that their brother had been assaulted and was in the hospital with a critical brain injury.
A retired Navy mechanical engineer and recruiter, Blair was between jobs. He had worked as a contractor for the military since his retirement in 2004, but a snag with his security clearance had forced him to rely on unemployment insurance, as well as his retirement pay and disability checks, to survive. Throughout his working life Blair has always sent some of his income to his family to help them out. “I had just paid some bills, including my car payment and rent,” Blair recalled. “My unemployment had just run out, and I didn’t have any money to go home.”
Fortunately, Blair was able to call on the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society for help.
“I told them the story, and they worked with me to get a plane ticket and gave me money for food,” he said. “They bent over backwards to help me.”
Blair had received loans from the Society before, when his father was undergoing treatment for cancer, when his grandmother died, and for other family emergencies.
His brother’s injury and death, however, was the most significant. In addition to helping Blair travel back to Mississippi, the Society provided Blair with a loan to help cover some of the funeral expenses. “Without them helping me out it would have been a lot more stressful for me,” Blair said. “My dad is retired now. My parents don’t have any money after they pay their bills. My other siblings don’t have steady jobs. When I was in the military, I always provided for my family, that was my driving force to keep going.”
Fortunately Blair recently received his security clearance and returned to work, “so now there’s some money coming in so I can pay back these loans.”