Commentary

March 1, 2013

Don’t stay in the dark on your finances, your future

Financial readiness resources readily available

The Army has many resources to assist Soldiers and their Families with the hardships they face every day. Many of these resources are available through Army Community Service and can be very beneficial when properly utilized. These resources include: financial readiness training classes, debt liquidation assistance, Army Emergency Relief, Financial Advisors, and Financial Readiness Officers.

What type of financial readiness training is available through ACS? There are a number of banking and credit union training sessions, which provide overviews of the types of services these institutions offer. Budget development is another great class that teaches proper record-keeping and how to plan for income-based expenses and emergency expenses. The ACS directorate supports unit commanders by offering eight hours of personal financial management readiness training to first term Soldiers within three months of arrival at Fort Irwin. There is also credit training that addresses the use and abuse of credit and how to obtain credit. Other classes include consumer rights, insurance, and a personal financial readiness course. Personal financial readiness covers such things as the military pay system, pay entitlements, and how to read a Leave and Earnings Statement. It also covers wartime pay systems, the sure-pay program using checkbook management, financial counseling resources and procedures, a Soldier’s personal financial responsibilities, financial issues relating to Family members and creditors, extended absence financial planning, and Permanent Change of Station moves. The ACS directorate offers instruction and information materials that assist Soldiers and Families with critical life events that impact personal finances such as marriage, parenthood, college and retirement.

Financial counseling services provide one-on-one sessions for Soldiers and Family members in areas, such as budget development and financial planning, developing a spending plan, managing personal finances, and evaluating assets and liabilities.

The ACS debt liquidation assistance program facilitates resolution of financial crises by helping clients analyze their assets and liabilities, enroll them in a debt liquidation program if appropriate, develop a repayment plan to liquidate debts, contact creditors, and notify creditors by mail that the client is enrolled in the debt liquidation program. The ACS staff continues to follow clients through counseling until either the client’s debts are liquidated and the counselor is assured that the client can manage independently or until the client withdraws from the program. Also, ACS can help Soldiers transfer debt liquidation programs to their next duty station when they PCS.

The most popular ACS program that Soldiers use is the Army Emergency Relief program. The AER program provides interest-free loans or grants during times of emergency. Examples are loans for eviction, vehicle repossession, emergency travel, funeral expenses, and the repair of Soldiers’ only essential vehicle. Soldiers or Family members must see their Command Financial NCO for budget assistance prior to coming to ACS, with exception of an emergency Red Cross message needing an immediate response. On Fort Irwin last year alone, this program was able to successfully handle 975 cases and give out an estimated $1.5 million in AER loans.

With all that the Army offers, don’t stay in the dark on your finances and your future. Take advantage of the classes and services. Visit our local ACS office and take control of your finances in order to set yourself and or your Family on the path to success.

Army Community Service contacts

Tony Casiano – Financial Readiness Officer; 

Phone: 380-9194

Army Emergency Relief
Bob Lucas – Army Emergency Relief officer;
Phone: 380-3513

Soldier and Family Assistance Center
Charletta Zamora-Cruz, MS – Financial Advisor/Army Emergency Relief officer;
Phone: 380-8381

 




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