In response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic pressures, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) announces six new programs to widen the financial safety net for the Coast Guard community.
The pandemic places tremendous stress on military members and their families. Service members standing duty face additional childcare costs as schools remain closed. Many spouses have lost jobs due to closures and reduced hours, adding to the financial strain. Additionally, Coast Guard members and families typically move to new duty stations in the summer months.
On the tail end of the PCS season, CGMA is extending and expanding programs that it quietly rolled out this spring in response to COVID-19 impacts on Coast Guard families. To date, CGMA has provided $890,000 in COVID-19 related assistance, 60% to junior members (E-6 and below). There is a disproportionate economic impact on junior enlisted members who already operate household budgets with slim margins, sometimes including support from the SNAP or WIC benefits.
CGMA CEO, RADM Cari Thomas, USCG (Ret), guided the 96-year-old charity through the 2018/2019 lapse of appropriations with a record $12 million in assistance last year. Reflecting on the current challenge, Admiral Thomas notes, “We are delighted to introduce these programs as Coast Guard members are arriving at new duty stations and navigating a new school year for their children.” She continues, “Since 1924, our mission remains unchanged…that is to help Coast Guardsmen and their families in need. Our service members continue to make history every day from drug interdiction and lifesaving, to the protection of wildlife and national interests at sea and along intercoastal waterways. While many communities and non-profits are struggling to cope with the pandemic, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance continues to provide a steady hand to help.”
CGMA’s COVID-19 Assistance:
Child Care Grant: $500
Grant to off-set the increased demand and hurdles to securing childcare for dependents ages 0-12.
In-Person Tutoring Grant: up to $1,000
Beyond CGMA’s online tutoring program, this unique support offers help to young students (pre-K through 8th grade) as Coast Guard families navigate virtual classrooms. 24/7 online tutoring through Tutor.com/military also remains available for students of all ages.
Supplemental Special Needs Grant: up to $1,000
Support and services to care for special needs family members are often provided in person. The grant assists with funding for services or equipment that may be harder to acquire due to the pandemic.
Extension of SEG-C – Grant: up to $500
Extended program for the upcoming school year, COVID Supplemental Education Grant (SEG-C) provides for school supplies to support at home and virtual learning.
Child Care Loans: up to $6,000
Extension of an existing program to meet the unique and widespread demands for childcare (average of 4 months) amidst scheduling challenges as well as school and daycare closures.
Lost Wages Loan: up to $6,000
When unemployment benefits may be delayed or unavailable, this loan will make up to two months of salary available for spouse income losses.
With the launch of these new programs, CGMA is prepared to give up to $5 million in assistance. Previously announced COVID-19 relief programs such as funeral expense assistance, storage costs, and quarantine costs, in addition to all CGMA’s regular assistance programs, also remain available. This extensive support effort is made possible only through ongoing generosity from donors, and no funding from the government. Ongoing donor support fuels CGMA’s ability to continue its historic care of the Coast Guard community during a crisis.
CGMA Chief Operating Officer, CWO4 Sean Fennell, USCG (Ret), explains, “Like the Coast Guard, CGMA is Semper Paratus, Always Ready, to help the Coast Guard community no matter what they face. This organization rises to the challenge, no matter the crisis. Government Shutdown. Check. During hurricanes and wildfires. Check. Pandemic, just add it to the list. If Coasties are serving, CGMA is right beside them, offering timely support.”
Each of the six programs seeks to alleviate the financial pressures brought on Coast Guard families due to the changes and adjustments from the pandemic. A Coast Guard Exchange employee expressed his relief at the help the school supplies grant provided his family earlier this spring.
As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, my two children have been at home completing the rest of their school year remotely. They’ve gone through quite of bit of school supplies and we’ve needed to replenish many times. Because of the generous donations to the CGMA program, I was able to get reimbursed for these unplanned school expenses. It is comforting to know that CGMA is there when you need them!! – CG Exchange Employee, Chesapeake, VA