As Veteran’s Day approaches, it is important to reflect on the service and sacrifice performed by our armed forces who work to maintain our freedoms and lifestyles in this country. At Clearpoint, we would like to thank our veterans and also raise awareness about the troubling financial issues that plague our troops when they return home. As it turns out, many of our troops have not received the adequate financial education necessary to transition back to civilian life smoothly. Let’s take a closer look at this issue and what Clearpoint is doing to help raise awareness and solve these challenging problems.
Military Financial Education
It’s clear that our military personnel need access to more financial education resources. Even though employment figures and the economy as a whole have been improving, veterans have struggled disproportionately. This is particularly true for post-9/11 vets, also referred to as Gulf-War II era veterans. This group, made up of approximately 2.5 million, suffers from an unemployment rate of 10 percent, while for veterans in general the rate is 6.9 percent.
Studies and commentary have shown that many troops returning home struggle to reintegrate into a lifestyle where they suddenly have to manage finances and take on responsibilities that played lesser roles during their service. For those who suffered any sort of serious injury while overseas, this is an even bigger problem, as medical expenses can create dire financial situations. In fact, one recent study showed that veterans with PTSD face medical expenses that are three and a half times higher than for those without PTSD.
On top of this, many troops returning home don’t know of the programs and resources available to them and thus aren’t taking advantage of opportunities, like job training events, that could drastically improve their financial situations. Many also overlook the financial implications of the location they choose to live in. For instance, they return to their hometowns where job prospects may be slim. For these veterans, and even for veterans who do find employment, it’s important to have an understanding of financial concepts such as budgeting, using credit wisely, and avoiding predatory lending. But unfortunately, many don’t get these lessons until some damage has been done.
Financial Resources for Veterans
Thankfully, there are resources available. In fact, Clearpoint has played a vital role in helping vets get back on their feet through credit counseling and debt management services. In the last year alone, Clearpoint has seen a 38% increase in clients who are active-duty service members and a 51% increase in clients who are veterans. Other programs have proved useful too. Loans like the Asset Recovery Kit (ARK) from the PenFed Foundation have provided alternatives to predatory services like payday loans. And, many military-focused credit unions have rolled out loan services to help those affected by the recent sequester. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Better Business Bureau have also demonstrated a commitment to financial education for the military by providing another edition of the Financial Field Manual. These are all reliable and helpful resources for military members and their families.
The Veteran’s Money Book
There is a new resource available that can help members of our military develop healthy financial habits. Veteran and financial expert, Mechel Glass, along with colleague Scott Scredon, has developed “The Veteran’s Money Book.” Using this book, veterans returning home can learn how to:
- Build a personal financial action plan that meets their individual needs
- Understand credit and insurance, avoid scams, and develop life-long budgeting habits
- Learn how other veterans are paying down debt and building wealth
Glass served as a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Turkey during the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. Now, she speaks regularly with service members and veterans at military bases, VA hospitals and elsewhere, providing them with guidance and counseling on a variety of financial matters. She knows the financial hardships veterans face and gives them the information to overcome them.
Again, we want to give a warm thank you to our veterans. And remember, Clearpoint is here to provide counseling and budgeting services and promote needed financial education and resources for our troops.