The American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) is the oldest continuous nonprofit financial solutions provider in the country. But that distinction alone isn’t important to them — you are.
Chief Operating Officer Jerry Quinn is passionate about educating the military community on the importance of financial health and planning for the future. But it’s more than just his professional purpose. He has spent the last 35 years serving in the Army, including deployments in support of Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and homeland mission defense here in the United States during his time in service. Quinn currently serves as commander of the 316th Quartermaster Battalion in Oklahoma for the Army Reserve.
Despite his current role, he still remembers what it was like to be a 19-year-old enlisted soldier.
“When I was in Army basic training in 1985, the military was allowing various organizations on post in the name of financial education. I was sold a whole-life insurance policy,” Quinn explained, shaking his head. “I was a single soldier with no assets to my name. It was the last thing I needed… It was enriching that life insurance company and insurance salesman himself. AAFMAA would never allow that.”
Since Quinn’s experience, the Department of Defense has made strategic changes to the types of institutions that are allowed on base, to protect its members from practices that may be dishonest.
“I had a great career in banking for 25 years. I was the director of military affairs for a large nationwide bank,” Quinn said. He received a call about a position at AAFMAA one day and was floored by their background and mission. He immediately put his name in the hat for consideration.
“Somehow, someway, I got picked. I am blessed to be here.”
The organization is dedicated to providing a number of financial products including insurance, mortgages, and wealth management.
“It’s an important notion that at AAFMAA, we take care of the military families as soon as they are able to make that commitment to emergency savings, retirement, and appropriate life insurance,” Quinn said. He shared that as soon as military families realize they have extra money to save and are financially able to begin focusing on retirement years, AAFMAA will be there to support their needs.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling completed a survey in 2019 that revealed that 9 out of every 10 active service members and around 84% of their spouses have worries about personal finances. In that same year, the Blue Star Families Survey found that financial issues were the top stressor for military members, veterans, and their spouses.
Although families may not want to talk about it, discussing the possible need for life insurance should also be an important discussion for all military families. While many may plan for retirement, that often is in line with the idea that the member will be receiving their pension. Should there be a premature death, things change rapidly.
“We are here to do that for people, to give them that needs-based analysis to help them make informed decisions about their future,” Quinn said. “At AAFMAA, we have the tools and resources to help guide you in financial preparedness.”
When a military member or veteran purchases a life insurance policy with AAFMAA, they will receive access to all of the benefits associated with the organization. This includes things like talking with the benefits team who will assist with military benefits and entitlements. Their VA claims coordinators will assist with VA disability claims. When the worst happens, their survivor assistance team will walk alongside families to receive the benefits and entitlements they deserve.
Despite his successful career both as a civilian and career and in Army Reserve, Quinn was outspoken about his financial mishaps along the way. Those were the lessons that helped him build empathy for others and the drive to want to help them succeed.
“The evolution for me was longer than it needed to be. I think my advice to military members is to identify a trusted mentor or multiple mentors,” he said. “Allow yourself to evolve. Don’t beat yourself up for your past but get started on your financial future today.”