Separation from military service can be one of the most difficult transitions in a person’s life. Leaving the structure and comradeship of the military can lead to difficulties adapting to civilian life. Civilian life is much less structured than military life, and depending on your role in the military, you may be used to constantly having instructions to follow. Many veterans find they face financial hardship at some point in their transition or unexpectedly due to the uncertainty of civilian life.
If you are within 180 days of your military separation, you can still access services through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Each TAP office should have a resident financial advisor who can help you budget and connect you with national and local resources. However, you lose your TAP eligibility after 180 days. Fortunately, there is a plethora of options available to help veterans who are struggling financially.
If in doubt, go to Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has formal medical facilities and community resource and referral centers in the United States and abroad. These locations are designed to assist veterans, regardless of length of service or characterization of separation.
Contact your local Veterans Services Organization (VSO) for assistance. There are different types of VSO. Some VSOs are accredited by Congress and recognized by the VA, others are not. The VA maintains a directory of VSOs that includes:
- American Legion
- Disabled American Veterans
- Veterans of foreign wars
- American Red Cross
- Former American prisoners of war
- Fleet Reserve Association
Other organizations are also available to help struggling veterans, such as the Armed Forces Foundation. Other organizations that offer support to struggling veterans include:
- The PenFed Foundation
- Operation First Response
- The United States cares
- The Coalition to Salute American Heroes
- Armed Forces Families Foundation
In addition to national organizations, there are local and state organizations available. Check with your local VSO for options.
The VSO can also help you identify benefits through VA that you may be entitled to that remain unused. It is important to make sure that you are maximizing the benefits that you have gained with your service.
Some VSOs (including those listed above) can help you complete your VA disability application if you did not complete your application while you were still on duty. They can also help you with appeals and any changes to your disability since your separation. In addition, they are aware of changes to the disability claims process and new eligibility that could increase your disability rate.
Employment / Unemployment
Once you’ve exhausted your resources and TAP training, assistance is available from your local American Job Centers (AJCs) to help you with resumes, job search, and other resources. Veterans often receive early access to training, and in addition, many US employment centers have resources such as financial counseling that are only available to veterans. Work with your local VSO and AJC to maximize your resources and tools.
In addition to coordinating with your local VSO and AJC, you may want to consider one of the many organizations that deal specifically with helping veterans find quality employment that matches your skills and background. expertise that you have acquired through your military experience.
- Hire Heroes United States
- Veterans Employment and Training Service
- Operation Paver
- Hire our heroes
Currently, veterans who have experienced unemployment associated with COVID-19 may be eligible for the Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program.
Education and formation
Your VA benefits include education and / or training. The Post 9/11 and Montgomery GI bills are often the primary focus when it comes to education and training benefits. However, there are a host of other benefits and resources available through the VA. The Veterans Readiness and Employment Allowance is often less well known and can provide refresher training and a host of other resources, regardless of your employment situation. Check your eligibility.
If you are a seasoned homeowner and have paid off your mortgage for at least 6 months, you qualify for a Low Rate Loan (IRRL). Veterans can benefit from lower than market interest rates. Right now, market rates are already at record highs, and refinancing your home could lower your mortgage payments, as well as save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
If you are at risk of becoming homeless, the VA has resources available. Call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838). You can also visit your local VA medical facility or community resource and referral center for help.
Credit Score Information
If you didn’t know it already, your credit rating has a major impact on your financial situation. Your credit score is calculated based on a number of different factors, including:
- Debt-to-income ratio
- Age of credit history
- Punctuality of payments
Your actual score can fluctuate dramatically based on seemingly minor things. And you have different scores. There are three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each can report a slightly different number. However, if you have drastic differences between these scores, you may want to request your full credit report. The higher your score, the better your options. A higher score will give you better interest rates because it means you run less risk for the investor.
Another option is to consider credit card debt refinancing or debt relief programs. Understanding the differences is essential. Consolidation may require guarantees. Personal loans that do not require collateral are often high interest rates. Don’t consolidate your credit card debt if the interest rate on your loan is equal to or greater than the interest rate on your credit cards.
Debt forgiveness programs consolidate your debt, settle it with businesses, and charge you a fraction of your total debt, usually over a period of one year. Debt cancellation will usually have a negative impact on your Credit Score API in the short term, but increase it in the long term. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of debt consolidation and forgiveness to determine what is right for you.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the best organization to use to assess your debt situation and attempt to repair your credit score.
Budgeting and financial literacy
As mentioned, budgeting and financial literacy resources are available through TAP and local AJCs. However, there are a host of other organizations that focus specifically on financial literacy for veterans. Check out the following resources:
Mental problems and suicide
Many veterans may be struggling with PTSD or other mental health issues that go untreated. If you are having difficulty, contact one of the resources provided above. If you are going through a mental health crisis, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. The Crisis Line is also available via live chat and SMS to 838255. Remember not that we have your six.
No matter how serious your financial situation, help is available. There are resources. No one wants to see those who served our country fight. We want our veterans to thrive. Use this information to access all the opportunities available to you. And remember, no one can help you unless you ask.
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