A 2020 report shows veterans are leaning on education benefits to set themselves up for success outside the military.
More than 600,000 veterans used VA education and vocational rehabilitation benefits in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, with respondents citing top reasons as improving their quality of life and increasing career opportunities outside of military service. Jerry Quinn, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, knows firsthand the value military benefits offer to those that serve. He says one of the many things the Army gave him is the ability to afford an education.
“I learned at an early age, maybe both in my family and as I was growing up as a young Army soldier, that education was going to be essential for me to pursue the type of lifestyle that I wanted. So, in order to get the college degree, I had to join the Army; I had no other options — the GI Bill was a very beneficial option back then and it’s an even more valuable option today,” Quinn, American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) Chief Operating Officer and Secretary, said.
Quinn initially enlisted in the Army, serving seven years on active duty before switching components to the Colorado National Guard and currently serving in the Army Reserve. In his civilian career, he has more than 25 years of financial services industry experience. He says civilian education benefits both sides of the uniform — and the military as a whole.
“Especially as a reserve soldier, career progression takes on two facets: your military career and your civilian career. And in order to advance — both in the military and the civilian world — education is a key component to that.
“In our all-volunteer force, the reserve component makes up about 40% of the forward deployed force. Given the vital role that the three components play in our national security it is incumbent upon us in the Army Reserve to remain ready and relevant. One of the best ways we can do that is through education, both civilian and military. This diverse set of experience and education integrates dynamic capabilities that contribute to a more ready Total Force.”
Veterans who are working toward their education today are categorized as a non-traditional student demographic because they are older (24-40 years old) and nearly half are married and/or have children, according to VA. For those looking to offset education costs with a smart, trusted solution, AAFMAA offers the Career Assistance Program (CAP) Loan for active duty, National Guard members, and reservists. The CAP Loan is a benefit of AAFMAA membership that provides $5,000 at 1.5% interest paid back over 5 years that you can use for any purpose. In addition, the program does not require a credit check and there are no fees or pre-payment penalties.
“We recognize the need to provide today’s service members with a low-cost option that enables them to supplement costs not covered by military benefits. The CAP Loan meets military families at any stage of their life cycle, whether it be transitioning into a new community, completing off-duty education, or some other need. For example, Members can use this program to pay down debt on student loans or credit cards, which ultimately frees up funds for other expenses. It provides a peace-of-mind solution,” Quinn said.
He added that the CAP Loan is a good fit for those going through any transition, and it can be the difference between going to school, taking the next career leap, or not being able to do it at all.
Trusted by the military community for over 141 years, today AAFMAA serves military families with a range of financial readiness solutions like life insurance, wealth management, investments, and mortgages. As an added benefit of membership, military members in ranks E5-E9, warrant officers, and O1-O4, are eligible to apply for the CAP Loan.