Veteran debt can create significant problems for military families. When soldiers are injured or just haven’t been vigilant with their finances, a return home can bring serious financial implications. Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions works with military personnel to help them develop healthy credit habits and improve their financial standing. With all the predatory lending and dangerous business practices that target military personnel, it’s important to have resources that give our soldiers that quality and reliable help they need. In this video, Garry Patterson explains how Clearpoint can help military families with their finances.
A: All right. These next stories, they make you sad. You know, they served
our country, they defended our freedom, but many of our veterans, right
here at home, they’re fighting another battle.
B: Yeah, recent studies show many veterans are falling deeper and deeper in
debt, unable to pay bills despite laws and programs to try and help them.
Fox 13’s Greg Coy has the story of a Mid-South former Marine fighting to
recover both physically and financially.
Greg Coy: Good morning. Gerald Brewer joined the Marines to escape rural
Tennessee. A war injury in Afghanistan put on hold his dream of a military
career, and when he came home, he found himself in thousands of dollars in
Gerald Brewer served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, and during one of
his patrols in September of 2010, the enemy attacked.
Gerald Brewer: Somebody was like 100 yards off and pulled the string, or
set it off, and we were the last vehicle. That’s when we got blown up by an
180 pound IED.
Greg Coy: The blast injured his right knee and shoulder, and this combat
veteran now walks with a cane. Physical therapy to strengthen his leg and
shoulder may take years.
Gerald Brewer: I have chronic pain in my shoulder. They think that caused
the nerve damage in my hand. I have no feeling in my right hand.
Greg Coy: Unable to work, Brewer has another battle to fight. The bills
have piled up to the point that this recipient of the Purple Heart and his
wife are in financial trouble.
Gerald Brewer: We had some savings, and then it just. . . You know, just
trying to keep our head above water, everything was gone.
Kathy Brewer: All throughout the month, we owe more than we take in because
of the debt that we have. We can’t pay on it.
Greg Coy: The Brewers are not alone says Clearpoint Credit Counselor Gary
Gary Patterson: We’ve had a 38 percent increase in active military
personnel seeking assistance with their finances.
Greg Coy: Active?
Gary Patterson: Active, and a 51 percent increase in veterans seeking
Greg Coy: Patterson says military families and new veterans face money
issues similar to retirees. They’re on a fixed income. Any unexpected bill
can throw their budget into chaos.
Gary Patterson: One series of missed payments can cause many, many missed
payments, and then it’s just almost too much for a person to handle.
Greg Coy: And that’s what happened to the Brewers. Car repairs, moving,
Gerald’s decision to go back to school, and Kathy’s inability to find
affordable daycare has put them deeper in debt. The options seem limited.
Kathy Brewer: Just being absolutely, completely broke, that we have to sell
everything that we own that’s of value.
Greg Coy: There is assistance from the VA and other non-profit agencies to
help military families and veterans, but they often come with conditions.
Kathy Brewer: Honestly, there’s not really, I mean, there’s not really any
programs out there that will help you unless you’re severely disabled, like
if he was missing a limb or paralyzed, in a wheelchair.
Greg Coy: It means the Brewers and others who left to fight a war abroad
will now have to fight a financial battle here at home.
Gerald Brewer: I’d like to get away from paycheck-to-paycheck. I think the
only way to do that is to win the lottery.
Greg Coy: I directed the Brewers to a non-profit agency, but the family
told me last night that Gerald had been denied any help because he had been
out of the military for too long. We’ll keep you posted on this story.
For Good Morning Memphis, I’m Greg Coy, Fox 13 News.