Financial Help for US Armed Services Veterans: 10 Essential Tips and Resources
We all know how quickly the chips can stack against us in the case of an emergency. In these situations, every veteran should try to answer these questions:
- How do I save for retirement?
- What are my resources as a veteran?
- How can I improve the financial situation my family is in?
- Who can help?
- What if this is an emergency and I need funds now?
If you’re having trouble answering any of these questions, you’ll want to use our research to make the most informed decision— we’re here to help.
In 2016, friends and family helped raise over $190,000 for Richard Overton. Richard is 111 years old, making him the oldest living United States veteran. He served during World War II, and he currently lives in his home in Austin, Texas. When the Overton family really needed help with Richard’s living costs, they started a crowdfunding campaign.
A Budget Planning Checklist for Veterans
There’s plenty of advice out there on how to deal with long-term financial plans, but what about dealing with costs in the short term? This checklist can help you take the right steps for your financial situation right now. Here are our top five:
Starting is the hardest part. Here are 7 resources to help veterans with financial planning, managing costs, and getting help.
7 Essential Financial Resources for Veterans
- The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) offers financial aid of up to $5,000. The Unmet Needs grant helps with basic life needs and debts for veterans. Since this is a grant – which is not a loan – no repayment is required. To further ease stress, the VFW will help connect with your creditors and pay them directly.
- The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) established the Lifeline program. The Lifeline program focuses on making communications products reasonable for low-income customers. Their goal is to help consumers afford 21st-century broadband services and access all the opportunities that provides.
- USA Cares Organization offers a fast 48-hour turnaround on all applications received for financial assistance. This organization provides financial advocacy and support to post-9/11 veterans and their families. USA Cares removes financial barriers, facilitates career transition, provides housing counseling, and has emergency assistance programs focusing on financial stress.
- The Thrift Savings Plan can quickly help you set up a retirement plan or fund. Congress established the TSP in 1986. Their main goal is to support veterans by offering retirement and investment planning. Through the TSP, veterans will find a wide variety of tools in order to compare monthly retirement plans. Veterans can find the best return on their retirement investment through using the tools the TSP has to offer.
- The Beneficiary Financial Counseling Service (BFCS) offers the FinancialPoint Plus program. The FPP is an independent company sponsored by the VA. They have assembled a team of financial professionals and experts. To get started, veterans just need to set up an account and request a financial plan from the FPP webportal.
- The American Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program makes funds available for veterans who are eligible for an American Legion membership. The legion’s main goal is to help with day-to-day living expenses, like food costs, utilities, and rent; but the grant can also be used for healthcare bills or expenses. The American Legion hopes to help these families by providing a more stable financial situation.
- OFF has a goal of delivering over 5 million dollars to veterans; see if you can apply. Operation Family Fund is committed to ensuring that all available resources are used to assist eligible members, caregivers and families that served in Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom both domestically and abroad.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). The WWP is a VA-accredited organization. They have experts in place who focus on helping veterans with their VA claims. In 2016, they were able to help secure 81 million dollars for veterans benefits and file over 16,035 disability claims.
Veterans Community Assistance: Three Valuable Resources
If you’re a veteran, there are community resources available to you, and these three community based organizations are where you should start.
- We Honor Veterans (WHV) helps connect volunteers with veteran organizations in their local area. They offer a wide range of services for veterans. Through WHV, you can find resources for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), homelessness, substance abuse, and sexual trauma. The programs and services they offer can lead to a more stable financial situation.
- Veterans Inc. can help you locate services in your community. Housing, employment training or placement, and health & wellness — all of these services are available in your area and Veterans Inc. can help you find them. Visit their site for success stories.
- Veterans Community Services helps service members and Veterans transition into community life. You’ll find a large number of locally based solutions at VCS. From substance abuse solutions to long term success plans, VCS wants to help manage a smooth return to civilian life for all veterans.
How GoFundMe Helps Veterans
Millions of people have turned to GoFundMe to help fundraise for financial needs and potentially change their life. Crowdfunding allows you to reconnect with old friends that you may not have seen since your days in the service. It can be nerve-racking to ask for help from your friends and community, but there’s a great chance they’d want to support a veteran.
Britainy knew her dad, a 20-year veteran of the United States Air Force, needed help.
“He was first admitted into the hospital in November after falling and not being able to get up all day,” said Britainy Schmid, the campaign organizer for Jeff’s Angels. “What he thought was a ‘thrown out back’ turned out to be a full blown staph infection that spread through his bloodstream. It broke off in different areas leading him to have foot surgery, and spinal cord surgery.”
So Britainy started a GoFundMe campaign and raised over $5,000 in just three days. By reaching out to her network, she changed her father’s financial situation. Sadly, Jeff passed away due to his injuries. The fund is being used to help his wife with medical expenses and memorial costs.
Bob and Sandy Sneller’s home was scheduled for foreclosure. Bob, a retired and disabled Vietnam veteran, knew he needed help. That’s when his friend Pat stepped in and helped Bob and Sandy raise over $12,000 in one month. With the help of their local community, these retirees were able to save their home.
As one donor said, “I am so proud of our community for stepping up to the plate to help the Snellers. I wish Bob and Sandy prosperity and good health in the coming years. God Bless and Keep you all!”
We hope you feel more prepared for the next financial curveball life may throw at you. Financial hardships can happen very quickly, and the key is to act fast. Just know that your financial situation is worthy of help and attention from an extended veteran network.
As a veteran, you have a built in community of friends, family, and fellow veterans who can come to your aid. Create a veteran crowdfunding campaign for yourself, or for a veteran you know; the process is easy and you can start today.