According to (Veteran Homelessness Facts), veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless than other Americans due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing (para. 1). Adjusting to civilian life after serving is filled with adjustments and challenges. Therefore, retiring straight out of serving causes many veterans to struggle financially. Those who have sacrificed themselves to protect us and our country deserve a comfortable and financially secure retirement. In honor of Veterans Day, we want to honor those who have served and share our advice to help incoming veterans stay financially sound during their retirement. Here is a little note from one our financial advisors, Silvio, who retired as a Major from the Air Force:
"It has been said that serving in the military is a calling. It is true, I feel humble to be part of the greatest military in the world. In spite the challenges, hardship, and stresses on family life, it was an honor and a privilege to serve and protect this great nation so that others may enjoy the freedoms that this country provides. On this Veteran day I give pause to remember those who came before me and those whose who have come after me that continue the tradition of protecting this great country."
Set financial expectations:
During those last few months of serving, it’s crucial to prepare for your post-military life. For many veterans, it’s shocking to return to normalcy and have more financial responsibilities after serving. Therefore, we suggest allocating a portion of your monthly income towards a savings account six months to a year before your retirement. You should plan to have enough savings to last at least three months of your civilian life in case you are unable to become employed or receive your military benefits right away. Then, determine what your financial obligations will be post-serving and create a comprehensive and realistic budget you can follow once you retire. Doing so will help ensure you stay financially sound during your adjustment period.
Analyze your military benefits:
The Veterans pension program in the US provides monthly payments to veterans who qualify due to age, disability, and other considerations. You can apply for a military pension and find out if you’re eligible on the US Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Additionally, if you’re retiring from the military at a young age, and plan to seek employment opportunities, you may have educational benefits available to you. Obtaining a degree or technical certification will open the doors for more employment opportunities with higher pay. You can check in with your local educational institution to determine you’re eligible for tuition waivers or scholarship opportunities due to your veteran status.
Veteran resources and organizations:
It’s heartbreaking to hear about the many veterans who struggle with mental health, finances, and health conditions. However, our city of Tallahassee has various resources and organizations that assist our veterans. For example, The Leon County Division of Veterans Services helps veterans obtain emergency assistance, medical care, educational benefits, and more. Additionally, The Florida Veterans Foundation offers a variety of emergency help resources for veterans, including mental health treatment and financial assistance.
Please don’t struggle silently. If you’re having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life, we encourage you to reach out to the many organizations and resources available to assist you.
This article is meant to be general in nature and is not intended, and should not be construed as personal financial advice. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal. Please consult your financial advisor prior to making financial decisions. Gary Parsons is a Financial Advisor with U-Vest Financial®, a separate entity from LPL Financial and can be reached at 850.300.7055. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/ SIPC.
Veteran homelessness facts. Veteran Homelessness Facts | Green Doors. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://greendoors.org/facts/veteran-homelessness.php.