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Have You Taken the Department of Defense’s Financial Readiness Challenge?

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Posted in Savings Account

financial securityIn response to the current economic downturn facing the nation, the Department of Defense recently spotlighted the innate desire within us for financial security.

We all want it. We all need it. And although many seek it sooner than others, our intrinsic drive for security — be it financial, emotional or literal, can be traced back to the hunter-gatherer societies which roamed the vast African savannahs, thousands of years ago. Early man understood — just as we should — the acquisition of resources in order to sustain a standard of living now and in the foreseeable future, was a very good thing.

Earth dwellers of old would have undoubtedly felt a sense of security with the acquisition of a giant Mastodon. Butchering the beast — a family affair. Children acquiring information regarding the hunt, the preparation and even long-term preservation of meat/hide, in order to stockpile resources for that proverbial “rainy day.” As elders passed down knowledge gleaned from years of experience, the next generation of homo sapiens evolved, creating better lives for their progeny.

Of course, times have changed. But despite being several millenniums removed from our ancestors, we human beings still seek sanctuary. Only now, a solid financial portfolio, low-interest home loan, beefy savings account and an excellent job with far reaching benefits, provide that contemporary sense of security.

Navy Commander David Julian — head of the DOD’s Office of Personal Finance and Transition, developed a fiscal responsibility agenda aimed towards members of the United States Military. The Financial Readiness Campaign, as it came to be known, was actualized in 2003 under Commander Julian’s supervision. According to the DOD’s website, the Campaign “seeks to plan a path to wealth and financial security for members of the US Armed Forces.”

The Financial Readiness Campaign

Essentially a hyper-condensed personal budgeting seminar, the Financial Readiness Campaign covers general information regarding debt, home and college loans, credit ratings and planning for retirement. Bringing financial specialists to military installations worldwide, the DOD provides one-on-one sessions for service members and their families at no cost to them.

Generally taking place at base exhibition halls, the Financial Readiness Campaign conducts so-called “Financial Readiness Challenges.” Service members can participate in several ways: Alongside financial workshops and panel discussions, the DOD gathers first-rate keynote speakers. Many of these orators are well-known financial experts such as Suze Orman and Ben Stein. Proving to be one of the more popular events at said “challenges,” lecturers share wisdom regarding fiscal responsibly.

A key component of the “Financial Readiness Challenge,” lies with what Commander Julian dubs “the pillars of personal financial readiness.” They include:

  • The ability to recognize seeking financial counseling won’t cause a security clearance to be lost or denied (but mounting debt will)
  • Planning for the future through the Savings Deposit Plan (SDP)
  • Establishing and maintaining good credit
  • Taking advantage of military discounts such as reduced movie tickets and theme park prices available through Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR)
  • Investing in Service-Members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
  • Utilizing military aid associations
  • Making use of base banks and credit unions

Whereas each event varies by location, the bulk of activities consist of numerous workshops and panel discussions. Sessions provide information on investing, debt reduction, the Department of Defense’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), home-buying strategies, scholarships/grants for college and trade schools, identity theft, credit reports and a plethora of other economic concerns.

Due to the nature of military operations, special consideration is paid to service persons deployed overseas and their families back home. Workshops examining childcare and youth programs are also provided, as are family activities during the aforementioned campaigns. Panel discussions are aimed at helping service members understand their benefits, hopefully influencing career decisions. Ultimately, the DOD hopes to enlighten participants with cold hard facts, rather than rumor and speculation.

Although manifesting itself differently around the globe and throughout the centuries, financial security and personal wealth grease the gears that make the world go round. As a service member or veteran, economic freedom is available in several ways.

The first step in navigating said avenues lies in education. Recognizing this, the Department of Defense has provided members of the Armed Forces an excellent platform for enlightenment via the Financial Readiness Challenge. For more information regarding DOD financial programs, visit: http://www.defense.gov.