Military financial security supports mental health and well-being

Rosemary Williams is a special executive at Deloitte Consulting LLP. She previously served as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy at the Department of Defense. Her work with military families and veterans followed a career in broadcast journalism, during which she won several awards, including an Emmy Award for her coverage of 9/11 on MSNBC.

The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of If you want to submit your own opinion, please send your article For consideration.

In the year In 2014, a US Marine Corps sergeant stopped by the Defense Department’s Military OneSource. Contact center He asked for help for his two corporations in Okinawa, Japan, each receiving a $500 loan from a predatory lender. Both had defaulted on their payments, totaling $1,500, and still owed $500 each.

Although it is illegal to charge more than 6% for any loan to a service member, this type of thing is unfortunately common. Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense b Military community and family policy (DASD MC&FP), I know that even after the damage is done, help is available to get corporations out of debacle.

While the various iterations of the SCRA have begun civil wars, many of those it seeks to protect continue to struggle with poor financial health due to a lack of resource awareness, persistent predatory lending and, over the last 10 to 15 years, the so-called “highlight reels” on social media that have relentlessly targeted the personal wealth of peers and others. Peer pressure.

Resources are available

Military OneSource has multiples. Special Consult, as Transfer support For military families who move every two to four years; Strong spouse Employment program Who wants to solve that unemployment rate Military spouses hovering around 24% More than ten years; and financial advice from a Certified Financial Advisor (CFC)

The 24/7 Contact Center is a confidential counseling service — also known as Non-medical advice, one of the largest behavioral health resources in the country, offers 12 confidential counseling sessions to each person, each issue, with a counselor with a Master of Social Work (MSW) or higher, for any problem that prevents a military service member. or their family from living their best life related to relationships, work, general stress or anxiety. All challenges are welcome, especially if the issues are not big, with more negative consequences. Appointments are available by phone, text, email, and in person within 15 miles or 30 minutes of the caller’s location. Military OneSource is equal parts support and defense.

This incredibly generous program offered by DD ensures that seeking and receiving help is as easy as possible for service members and their families. Calls are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in less than 6 seconds, and callers are never put on hold. In addition to CFCs at Military OneSource, personal financial advisors are also available at most installations and are even available through DoD partners, ie. Military banks And Defense credit unions.

This network of so-called “indoor” resources is supplemented by myriad non-federal entities. American Military Bank Associationlegal aid societies and other non-profit organizations.

Financial education and security

Military OneSource Financial Counseling falls under the category of non-medical counseling because financial health is linked to a person’s mental health and well-being. Let me repeat that: financial health is closely related to a person’s mental health and well-being.

In particular, when a service member or their family member calls Military OneSource and talks about insomnia, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem or hopelessness, the average person may view these as poor signs. Mental health. While valid, these feelings are very common signs of poor financial health.

Some outward signs of money Stress It affects mental well-being, including but not limited to: arguments with loved ones about money, trouble sleeping, anger or anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, loss of appetite, or withdrawal from others. Solving financial problems early, in turn, reduces their impact on mental health.

This is what many already know, but it’s not clear to everyone that financial health and mental health go hand in hand. Either can start the cycle, but they feed off each other and if left unchecked, mental and financial health can both spiral out of control. And it’s more complicated. Humiliation Associated with financial difficulties, this makes it very difficult to get help.

If financial stress or anxiety isn’t addressed, it can get worse — experts say Bad coping strategiesincluding binge drinking, domestic violence, infidelity or suicidal thoughts. We know that there are many reasons why people commit suicide relationships And Financial matters They generally fall into two main categories when it comes to suicide. Early resolution of financial problems can reduce their negative impact on mental health and their military readiness in the army.

Financial insecurity and the need for financial education is not a military issue – it cuts across military and civilian populations. For the military, we call it “financial readiness,” but it’s the same thing out of the gate. We avoid the term financial “literacy,” as it connotes an uninformed person as “illiterate” and may exacerbate the stigma associated with already help-seeking behaviors.

The civilian population is also important because it is where today’s military families live. Specifically, 72% of military families and 68% of single service members live outside of installation gates. Additionally, we see that more and more military spouses are primarily military spouses, rather than mothers, bankers, teachers, or church volunteers, to name a few examples.

Financial preparedness is military preparedness.

There’s science behind the shopworn saying that No. 1 is a low-distance family affair for a service member. Financial stress could be at the same level if we had a way to accurately measure it. Simply put, the survival and well-being of service members depends on being free from the general stress that comes with personal financial matters.

There are some studies out there that shed light on its prevalence. Financial security risk In all peoples including recent times survey From the Military Family Counseling Network. We can’t really measure the problem in the military community, because in some extreme cases, doing so can pose a serious risk to members of the community, such as the loss of promotion or security clearance – or punishments such as being kicked out of the military. This means losing potential long-term benefits, retirement options, and/or free health care. These potential consequences and the significant stigma associated with financial hardship may make a service member or military family member less likely to turn to DoD sources for help, such as Military OneSource, even if they are safe and encouraged to do so.

Community-based and timely financial preparedness support

Enter Non-federal entities (NFE) — Relevant non-profit organizations and associations and charities. These are critical partners in the health and readiness of the entire military-connected community: service members, veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. Many soldiers and their families do not risk the DOD knowing they have financial problems because they must have independent — and DOD-approved — resources.

All entities must cooperate and coordinate to meet financial readiness requirements for the entire military community. And influential NFAs must be included under the DoD tent to be part of the solution. Agencies like the VA are thriving with public-private partnerships to serve veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors — including a major financial security program for veterans. Veterans Benefits Bank Program.

According to modern approaches fintech Since then, financial education is an important tool 85% Enlisted service members are under the age of 35, so they have a thumbs up where they live and thrive on social and digital media. Additionally, paid digital advertising promoting the devices online and other resources is now a must to break through the noise of the 24/7 news cycle.

It’s important to note that social and digital channels can work against our efforts. Social media is a so-called constant highlight reel that bombards service members and their families by looking at pictures of their friends and close friends without understanding the underlying context of the individual’s true financial picture or how one’s financial life is better. Private and private.

Some of the best work on this is aimed at children, starting them early with the basics to build a solid foundation of financial security. DoDEA offers courses such as: Financial Algebra And Business and personal finance. There are some NFAs that are amazing. Finred Programs for children in preschool. Consider this: What would happen if we modeled it? Financial education for children As with seat belt safety and the dangers of smoking decades ago. The children owned it and took it home, their parents who were faced with a change of attitude and experience.

Mental health and financial problems should not always be linked to each other. We all have the power to change the financial situation of a service member and their family by letting them know they don’t have to do it alone. Helping you make small changes, rely on resources for support, and appreciate every step of the journey the way only true professionals can — as you work to become financially and mentally healthy.

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