CAMP SCHWAB, Japan – Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Nard is a religious program specialist with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion serving in Okinawa, Japan. Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, Nard was forced into the foster care system.
Years later, he joined the Navy and began reconnecting with his mother. But in the fall of 2015 after coming back from a deployment, Nard received a saddening message from home.
“I just knew that something bad happened. I just didn’t know what to do,” said Nard. “I assumed the worst.”
He was right. His mother had passed away.
Beyond the physical and mental stress from the long, expensive flight home from Japan, Nard agreed to split the cost of the funeral with his uncle. While emotionally it was the right decision to be able to give his mother a proper funeral, financially it was an enormous burden.
“I wasn’t financially stable at the time,” said Nard. “I wasn’t able to pay my half of the cost.”
Nard contacted his first sergeant to let him know about the situation. His command responded immediately and paid for his flight home, but the cost of the funeral was still out of reach.
The first sergeant suggested the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society’s programs to Nard.
Within days, the NMCRS contacted the funeral home and arranged to provide money for Nard’s share of the funeral and set him up on an interest-free payment plan.
“I didn’t have to do much on my end, just paying my part monthly.”
With the burden of paying for the funeral now off of his plate, Nard was able to focus completely on comforting his family.
“I was just trying to stay strong for my brothers,” said Nard.
During the funeral, Nard realized that a piece of his life was now gone forever. He questioned how he should handle the situation because he wasn’t able to bond with his mother physically and emotionally. His body answered for him.
“At the end of the funeral, I just burst into tears. My body just tensed up and I shook with sadness because I didn’t have the time to reconnect with my mother.”
Nard said ever since that day he’s been donating to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society.
“It’s a wonderful program to have. I would hate to see it leave because in the future I know it would help a lot more,” said Nard. “I would recommend it to every Marine and sailor because having that immediate assistance is profound. You won’t get that from anything or anyone else.”
“I just would like to thank the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society for assisting me in my time of needs,” said Nard.