A group of banking nonprofits and trade organizations serving the military population is doubling down on their efforts to provide financial guidance tailored to veterans through the launch of a new program.
The Defense Credit Union Council, Association of Military Banks of America and Military Saves, a nonprofit coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America, have formed Veteran Saves. The new campaign will launch in spring 2023.
“Before the [COVID-19] pandemic, we recognized a gap in the amount of practical financial education tools and resources available for the veteran population,” said Krystel Spell, manager of military programs for Military Saves. “This lack of tailored support left our veteran population susceptible to issues that contributed to financial instability or resulted in it.”
According to Blue Star Families 2021 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, a higher proportion of post-9/11 veterans experience adverse financial outcomes than veterans from other eras. The survey revealed that about half of post-9/11 veteran respondents are experiencing financial stress due to excessive credit card debt, spouse underemployment or unemployment, major home repairs, student loans and out-of-pocket medical costs.
Military Saves founders assert that the financial challenges that veterans face are often much different than the ones faced by their active-duty counterparts. The veteran-specific service campaign will target those issues directly.
“Active-duty military personnel continue to have the benefit of stable income and medical coverage until they transition out,” Spell said. “The location of where a veteran moves will determine their access to transitional resources. Suppose they do not live near a military base, a Veterans Affairs Hospital or in a military town. In that case, this could severely impact their access to tools and resources that could help mitigate financial instability.”
Financial instability affected nearly half of the veteran population in the past year. In the 2021 Wounded Warriors Project Annual Survey, 42% of veterans reported they did not have enough money to make ends meet at some point in the past 12 months.
The Military Saves campaign helps service members save money, reduce debt and build wealth through the habit of saving. The new veteran initiative comes when many families across the country have reduced the amount they’re saving each month. According to a Morgan Stanley financial benefits study, 62% of civilian sector employees are scaling back their contributions to savings because of the economic impact of inflation.
“At America Saves, all of our programs share the same core beliefs: saving automatically is the easiest, most successful way to save and that saving is a habit, not a destination,” Spell said.
The Veteran Saves campaign will serve as a one-stop-shop to get tools and strategies for veterans to save. It will also provide resources to help them better understand the current economic climate, best utilize workplace savings programs in the private sector, and get the most out of military benefits to build robust financial health.
Since 2005, more than 400,000 service members have utilized the Military Saves program. While there isn’t a concrete goal for how many veterans the founding team of banking nonprofits hopes the new Veteran Saves initiative can reach, leaders are excited about its potential to help the demographic directly.
“Our immediate goal is to continue partnering with organizations that are mission aligned, speak to the veteran community and ensure our financial tools and resources reach those who need them the most,” Spell said.
The Veteran Saves campaign will officially launch next spring during Military Saves Week, April 24-28. For more information on the campaign, visit the Veteran Saves website.