Every year, thousands of military families receive support from nonprofit organizations. The overwhelming majority of nonprofit organizations are above board, known and respected for the work they do for service members and their families. With that said, there are some organizations that have turned out to be fraudulent or outright scams. The DOD, and each branch of service, have been forced to try to find a way to protect service members, while still allowing them to receive the support they need.
Previously, there has been a history of inconsistent policies concerning nonprofit organizations on military installations. While a nonprofit organization may hold an office space on one base, its representatives may not even be permitted access to another installation within the same branch of service.
There have also been occasions where Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) officials on certain installations have asked nonprofit organizations to pay hundreds of dollars to set up a table at an on-base event. Many organizations, especially the local ones that can have a huge impact in their communities, can’t afford to pay the “entrance fees” just to spread the word about how they can help.
What the DOD is realizing is that service members need access to the support that these organizations can provide. And the department is trying to facilitate better conduits for these service members to receive the help that they need.
In 2013, DOD Secretary Chuck Hagel enacted a policy which allowed enlisted service members in pay grades E-6 and below to accept gifts valued at more than $20 from charitable and Veterans’ service tax-exempt organizations. An earlier restriction prohibited service members and military families in need from accepting provisions from nonprofit organizations, including holiday gifts, food and clothing.
Of course Mr. Hagel and the DOD are not about to direct the branches of the military to simply grant access to anyone claiming to represent a military-friendly nonprofit organization. But they are in discussions as to how to eliminate as many obstacles as possible that bring the provisions and beneficial programs these organizations provide to the service members who need them.
The DOD and each service branch are in the process of reviewing current policies regarding nonprofit organizations in order to give them more consistency. While it is not a formal review, it should pave the way for better access to provisions offered by military friendly nonprofit organizations, while protecting service members and their families.
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Military Connection: DOD Reviews Nonprofit Policies: By Debbie Gregory