Veterans and Finances

by Jovan Johnson

We’re creating this guide to help veterans, as well as their friends and family, find information, programs, and resources of value.

Financial Support for Military Members

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®)
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the nation’s largest & longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization that also offers financial counseling and assistance for military and veterans to help with debt management, bankruptcy, homebuying, credit card debt, student loans, housing decisions and overall money management.

The Military Wallet
The Military Wallet is a personal finance and benefits website for military members, veterans and their families. Each of their weekly podcasts features in-depth discussions on military and veterans benefits on retirement, health care, education benefits, Guard and Reserve topics, and more. The Military Wallet Podcast can be found on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

Military OneSource Financial Counseling
Military OneSource provides free financial counseling and financial management programs covering basic budgeting education, money management help, debt consolidation and debt management, assistance with housing issues, guidance on savings, investing and retirement plans, etc. Military OneSource financial counselors are available in-person, over the phone and video.

Defense Finance and Accounting Services
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service offers military members a three-tiered retirement plan that spans from paying an equal amount of Social Security taxes to assisting military members growing their finances through a long-term savings plan. The three tiers are: Social Security Benefits (you pay Social Security taxes and DFAS pays an equal amount); Basic Benefit Plan (you pay a small contribution to the Basic Benefit Plan and DFAS funds the rest); and Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) (you can choose to make tax-deferred contributions to the TSP and a portion is matched by the Government. DFAS will automatically contribute an amount equal to 1% of your basic pay each pay period to your TSP account, even if you don’t choose to make contributions.)

US Cares
USA Cares provides post-9/11 active duty US military service personnel, veterans and their families with financial and advocacy assistance. The programs include but are not limited to Combat Injured (covers the basic expenses for veterans diagnosed with certain health issues during their treatment), Career Transition (also helps pay an individual’s essential expenses while they train for a new job); The Emergency Assistance program (helps those with financial stress related to military service and pays immediate, essential bills, including food and utility bills).

The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance
The TFA program awards cash grants to minor children of current active duty or American Legion members in need to meet the cost of shelter, food, utilities and health expenses aiming at keeping the child or children in a more stable environment. Children are eligible if they are under 17, or 20 if still enrolled in high school or are physically handicapped. A single one time non-repayable Temporary Financial Assistance grant of up to $1,500 will be permitted for the minor child(ren) of a qualifying veteran.

Operation Family Fund
OFF aims at assisting the members of Military and Civilian personnel who have been severely disabled as a part of Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom both domestically and abroad and their families with financial grants for transitioning to their new circumstances and achieving financial self-sufficiency. Operation Family Fund has set a financial goal over a 20 year period to disburse $5,000,000 for eligible members and families.

Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes
The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes provides disabled American veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn and their families with millions of dollars worth of Emergency Financial Aid and support services. Emergency Financial Aid often covers expenses such as utility bills, car payments and repair costs, mortgage and rent payments, groceries, baby formula, and household supplies, school supplies and clothing, and medical bills.

Operation First Response
For the last 15 years, Operation First Response has successfully served over 19,800 Disabled Veterans and their families with emergency financial aid. Their services include airline flights, lodging, and car transportation to/from airport and hospital, as well as financial support for the basics like groceries, clothing, mortgage, rent, utilities, and vehicle payments. Services are provided from the onset of injury or illness, throughout their recovery period and along their journey from military life to the civilian world.

Operation HomeFront
Operation Homefront is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families. Since 2011, Operation Homefront has provided over $26 million through the Critical Financial Assistance program to active duty, deployed, veteran, wounded, ill or injured service members in need of financial assistance for overdue bills, repairs, or other critical family needs.

SALUTE, INC.
SALUTE, INC. assists the financial, physical and emotional needs of injured military service members, veterans and their families through a variety of fundraising activities. Financial aid is provided for rent/mortgage payments, auto expenses, phone, utility bills, and other everyday living expenses. SALUTE delivers short term financial assistance to bridge the temporary income gaps and meet the basic needs of post 9/11 veterans.

Semper Fi Fund
Semper Fi Fund provides needs-based financial assistance and vital programming for combat wounded, critically ill and catastrophically injured service members and their families during hospitalization and recovery to help with additional travel and lodging expenses, childcare, and out of pocket expenses. Their “LCpl Parsons Welcome Home Fund for Vietnam Veterans” program aims at providing veterans from all US military Service branches who are catastrophically injured from combat operations in Vietnam with transportation, housing, and medical care grants.

Veterans Inc.
The Veterans Inc. Supportive Services for Veterans and Veteran Families Program provides direct services and financial assistance to help search for housing, assist with initial rent costs, and pay for certain bills related to back rent or utilities. SSVF Services Include Healthcare Referrals, Daily Living Service Referrals, Budgeting and Money Management, Benefits Assistance and Advocacy, Case Management, Housing Counseling and Assistance, as well as financial assistance for rent, utilities, moving expenses, security deposit, etc.

Loans for Service Members

Omni Financial
Omni Financial® is a leader in the military lending market that has offices at most military installations across the United States. Omni also makes military loans available to service members worldwide via their website 24/7. They offer military loans to active duty U.S. service members, as well as career retired members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. The amount provided ranges from $500 to $10,000. The loans have federal APRs that range from competitively low digits percentages to a maximum of 35.95%. Repayment terms range from 6 to 36 months.

USAA – Personal Loans
United Services Automobile Association works offers current military members, veterans, eligible family members and cadets and midshipmen a variety of financial products and services, such as banking, investment and insurance services and personal loans. USAA personal loans range from $2,500 to more than $20,000 with terms ranging from 12 to 84 months. This type of loan is flexible to meet your needs and get you money quickly. It can also be used to pay off various bills and possibly save on interest charges.

VA-backed Veterans home loans
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers VA direct and VA-backed Veterans home loans to help Veterans, service members, and their survivors to buy, build, improve, or refinance a home. The applicants still need to have the required credit and income for the loan amount they want to borrow, but this loan offers better terms than a traditional loan from a private lender. Different types of loans include Purchase Loan, Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program, Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), Cash-Out Refinance Loan.

Military Homeownership Program
CHFA (Connecticut Housing Finance Authority) offers several financing options to help current members and veterans of any branch of Military Services, the Army National Guard, or the Air National Guard purchase their first home. The interest rates are below-market, and there is an additional 0.125% off for veterans or Military Service members loans. Other benefits are sales and income limit exceptions in certain areas and down payment assistance. This program is open to unmarried, surviving spouses or civil union partners of a veteran who died as a result of Military Service or service-connected disabilities.

Homeownership for the Brave program
Homeownership for the Brave is a home loan offered by Tennessee Housing Development Agency as financial assistance to active duty service members, including the National Guard Veterans (unless dishonorably discharged), reservists with at least 180 days of active duty service, and spouses of qualified service members, reservists, and veterans (including surviving spouses). The benefits include reduced interest rate by half percentage point (0.5%), waive requirements to be a first-time homeowner in all areas of Tennessee, borrow up to 100% of the house’s purchase price with a VA-backed loan or 96.5% with FHA or USDA-RD loans.

Army Emergency Relief
AER provides zero interest loans to active duty soldiers and their families, as well as military retirees, widows and orphans of soldiers who died on active duty or after retirement, medical retirees and their families and members of the Guard and reserve who have been activated for more than 30 days.

Military Heroes Fund Foundation interest-free loan
Military Heroes Fund Foundation provides service members, veterans, their families interest-free loans, known as Asset Recovery Kit Loans, as a no-interest alternative to predatory lending for active duty, reserve, and National Guard military. Through Interest-Free Loans, one can borrow up to $500 with a flat fee of $5 and no interest for one month.

Education Financial Assistance for Veterans

The Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship Program
The program is offered by Hope For The Warriors to provide aid in continued education at a U.S. reputable, accredited university, college, or trade school for spouses/caregivers. Scholarships include Honorary Scholarship (awarded to those seeking graduate or post-graduate degree), New Beginnings Scholarship (awarded to those pursuing entry level classes or training), Restoring Family Scholarship (awarded to spouses of the Fallen), Restoring Hope Scholarship (awarded to an MSW Student), and Restoring Self Scholarship (awarded to those seeking any undergraduate degree). Caregiver and Military Spouse Scholarships are made payable to the scholarship recipient’s institution for payment of tuition, books and supplies.

Folds of Honor
The Folds of Honor provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members. There are two types of scholarship programs; the Children’s Fund Scholarship (serving Kindergarten through 12th grade students) and the Higher Education Scholarship (serving those seeking a first bachelor’s degree or a certification at a post-secondary institution). Both types of the scholarships are based on “unmet need” and can be valued up to $5000.

Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC)
VET TEC is an innovative new pilot program that pairs eligible Veterans with market-leading Training Providers offering the high-tech training and skills development sought by employers. The program provides payment for classes and training by VA and a monthly housing stipend during the training. When accepted into the program, veterans are trained in one of the five areas (computer software, information science, computer programming, media application, or data processing) of high-tech training. Those who have at least one day of unexpired GI Bill entitlement, may be eligible for VET TEC.

Student Veterans of America
SVA is the nation’s premier organization for student veterans supporting them through their transition from the military, educational advancement and career growth. by delivering leadership trainings, scholarships, professional development resources, and other programs that have supported thousands of student veterans.

Troops to Teachers
Troops to Teachers program provides counseling and referral services for transitioning Service members and veterans to help them meet education and licensing requirements to teach and helps them with finding employment as a teacher when eligible. The assistance includes individualized counseling to assist participants in exploring and selecting the best pathway to teaching based on unique needs, goals, and skills; informed guidance on how to meet state teaching certification requirements and how to select a certification program; ongoing support and mentorship to assist participants in successfully transitioning to and thriving in a new career.

Helmets to Hardhats
Helmets to Hardhats is a national, nonprofit program that provides National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with federally-approved apprenticeship training and quality career opportunities in the construction industry. These apprenticeship programs are regulated and approved at both federal and state levels, so veterans can utilize their Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits to supplement their income while they are learning valuable skills and on the job training.

Military Programs – Thomas Edison State University
The programs help members of the US military and veterans prepare for a civilian career, advance their rank, or earn their degree while serving the country or using their GI Bill benefits. The University also offers military spouses and dependents a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs that may be completed entirely through the University’s online and distance learning courses.

Spouse Education and Career Opportunities – The Department of Defense
The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program is offered by the Department of Defense to provide education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections. The Military OneSource Spouse Career Center is a major component of SECO and offers free, comprehensive coaching services to all eligible military spouses.

Service to School
Service to School is a non-profit organization aiming at preparing transitioning military veterans for their next chapter of leadership by helping them gain admission to the best college or graduate school possible.
The services include free application counseling, peer-to-peer guidance, and networking support through their over 500 volunteers, called “Ambassadors,” many of whom received Service to School’s counseling and support throughout the application process.

Pat Tillman Foundation
The Pat Tillman Foundation provides assistance to empower military service members, veterans and spouses who are making a difference in the fields of healthcare, business, public service, STEM, education and the humanities. The Tillman Scholar programs include annual funding for academic expenses, including tuition, books, and living expenses; opportunities to advance knowledge, skills, and experience; and access to a community of high-performing peers, mentors and industry leaders.

Tutor.com for U.S. Military Families
Tutor.com for U.S. Military Families is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance to provide on-demand, online tutoring and homework help at no cost to eligible service members and their dependents. Military-connected students can get academic help on spot with live, expert tutors available 24/7.

Housing Assistance

VA Disability housing grants

Alongside with VA Home Loan Benefits program, VA also offers grants for Veterans with service-connected disabilities who need to adapt their home to live as independently as possible. These grants include Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant, Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant, Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant, or Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH)

This is a collaborative program between HUD and VA. Through public housing authorities, HUD provides rental assistance vouchers for privately owned housing to homeless Veterans who are eligible for VA health care services. VA case managers may connect these Veterans with support services such as health care, mental health treatment and substance use counseling to help them in their recovery process and with maintaining housing in the community.

Enhanced-Use Lease (EUL) Program
Through the Enhanced-Use Lease Program (EUL) the Department of Veterans Affairs provides homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families with safe, affordable living arrangements near health care providers. Other expanded services include but are not limited to job training, financial management assistance, free haircuts, community gardens and playgrounds, computer/technology centers, laundry facilities, community meeting and socializing rooms, fitness centers, support groups, and senior companion programs.

Lincoln Military Housing
Since 2001, Lincoln Property Company has been partnering with the Department of Defense to develop a new approach to military housing – Lincoln Military Housing. It is an affiliate of Lincoln Property Company created to meet the needs of the Armed Services and their constituents. Cost, rental arrangements and military family events are among the key benefits.

Langley Family Housing
Langley Family Housing, managed by Hunt Companies, is a national real estate services leader that offers expertly designed homes, fully developed communities, and exceptional management services to Service Members and their families. There is no up-front rent, deposits, application or background check fees for Active Duty Members, no pet deposits, and some paid utilities for all residents. The residents include Active Duty Members assigned to Langley AFB and other installations, Unaccompanied Service Members, Reservists or Air National Guard on active duty for one or more years, DoD civilians, Retired Service Members, and Retired DoD Civilians.

Fort Lee Family Housing
Hunt Companies also manage Fort Lee Family Housing for Active Duty Military Members and their dependents.
Fort Lee Family Housing includes seven communities encompassing over 1,500 new, renovated, and traditional single family homes. They offer a payment in arrears structure, meaning there’s no up-front rent costs for all residents, no deposits, and paid utilities.

Military Housing Assistance Fund (MHAF)
MHAF provides veterans, active duty military, guard, and reserve personnel and their families with gift funds to assist them with purchasing a home.Their unique approach to the home buying process allows them to receive gift funds in order to cover the closing costs on their home purchase. Currently they are offering this program in all 50 states.

Legal Resources for Military Personnel

StatesideLegal.org
Launched with the support of the Legal Services Corporation, StatesideLegal.org is a non-profit website that provides military members, veterans, their families, and advocates with free online information, self-help tools and referrals. They also provide referrals to free legal services throughout the U.S. They also aim at creating provider networks for lawyers, caseworkers and other advocates who support people with military service and their families.

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project
The ABA Military Pro Bono Project is managed by the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP). The project accepts case referrals from military attorneys on behalf of junior-enlisted, active-duty military personnel who are facing civil legal issues and works to place these cases with pro bono attorneys. Military attorneys and other pro bono attorneys may also contact civilian attorneys registered with Operation Stand-By for attorney-to-attorney advice.

Lawyers Serving Warriors® (LSW) Program
NVLSP’s (National Veterans Legal Services Program) Lawyers Serving Warriors® program provides veterans from all eras with free legal help with disability issues. Current pro bono initiatives include Assistance with Discharge Upgrades for Veterans from All Eras; Applications for Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC); Applications to Boards for Correction of Military Records (BCMRs) for veterans who were wrongfully discharged for personality disorder or adjustment disorder; Applications to Boards for Correction of Military Records (BCMRs) for veterans who wish to obtain disability retirement; Assistance with VA claims for Mental Health and/or Physical Condition(s) including PTSD due to military sexual trauma (MST); Applications to the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) for an increase in the military disability rating to attain a permanent disability retirement, and Representation to service members being processed through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).

The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program (TVC)
TVC Pro Bono Program is the leading national 501(c)(3) charity providing free legal services in federal venues for veterans in need. It operates on behalf of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to represent veterans unjustly denied benefits or compensation earned from military service.

Veterans Legal Institute® (VLI)
VLI provides pro bono legal assistance to homeless, at risk, disabled and low income current and former service members in a number of critical areas such as housing, healthcare, education, and employment. The major practice areas include discharge upgrades, veterans benefits, expungement, landlord-tenant and eviction defense, family law, estate planning, guardianships and conservatorships, bankruptcy, non-profit and small business assistance, as well as regularly hosting a Family Law Clinic, VA Benefits Clinic, and Women Veteran’s Clinic.

Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
The law firm of Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC provides legal assistance for Veterans and their families in all federal veteran benefits matters representing them in appeals of denial of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Representation includes claims appealed to the U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims as well as before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

The LSNYC Veterans Justice Project (VJP)
VJP provides civil legal services to low-income military veterans, service members and their families to protect them from homelessness, resolve barriers to employment, preserve economic stability, and remedy many other problems that derail veterans’ successful reintegration into civilian life.

Health Resources for Military Personnel

VHA Health Programs for Veterans
Veterans Health Administration, the nation’s largest integrated health care system, provides care at 1,255 health care facilities, including medical centers and outpatient clinics, serving 9 million enrolled Veterans each year. Besides the doctors and nurses, VHA offers tools and information to help veterans reach their optimal health. The health support services include Blind Rehabilitation, Dental Care Benefits, Disease Prevention, Geriatrics & Extended Care, Prosthetics and Sensory Aids, Weight Management, or Women Veterans Health Care.

Trainerspace Foundation
Trainerspace Foundation is a nonprofit that provides low-cost services to the current active duty, reserve, and post service veterans of the US Armed Forces. The services include health coaching, infrared therapy, personal training, physical therapy, and sound therapy.

The HOW Foundation
The HOW Foundation of South Florida, in collaboration with the International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation (IHMF) and the Red Cross, helps the nation’s soldiers by introducing hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a means of treating brain injuries and abnormalities.

Warrior Health and Fitness Program
Home Base’s Warrior Health and Fitness leads Veterans or Active Duty Service Members, in all branches of the military, the National Guard and the Reserves through a FREE 90-day program designed to improve their physical health and well-being through supervised physical training, education about healthy eating, living, sleep hygiene and the benefits of physical health, as well as techniques to help alleviate stress and manage anxiety. All able-bodied Veterans, including amputees, are eligible to participate and discharge status is not a factor.

Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project offers a range of health and wellness programs to help veterans through coaching, skill-building, and physical training. The Coaching Program focuses on weight loss, nutrition, and increased mobility. Though the Physical Activity Sessions they connect warriors from the same area to improve their health and wellness together. Fitness Challenges are designed to motivate warriors, their family members, and caregivers.

Emotional and Mental Health Resources

National Center for PTSD
PTSD treatment in the Department of Veterans Affairs is available throughout the country through nearly 200 specialized PTSD treatment programs. VA services are provided to all Veterans who completed active military service, were not discharged under dishonorable conditions, or were National Guard members or Reservists who have completed a federal deployment to a combat zone. At times, the VA has special agreements to provide care to Active Duty service members and family. PTSD program offers services including one-to-one mental health assessment and testing, medications, one-to-one psychotherapy and family therapy, group therapy (covers topics such as anger and stress, combat support, partners, etc.) or groups for Veterans of specific conflicts or specific traumas.

Combat Injured USA Cares
USA Cares provides financial and advocacy assistance to post-9/11 active duty US military service personnel, veterans and their families. USA Cares’ Combat Injured program pays the basic expenses for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and military sexual trauma (MST) while they receive treatment. post-9/11 active duty US military service personnel, veterans and their families.

TRICARE
Tricare is a health care program of the United States Department of Defense Military Health System for service members, retirees, and their families around the world. Tricare covers mental health problems, links to crisis hotline, MHS Nurse Advice Line, and mental health care treatments, costs, and programs and resources pages.

Mental Health First Aid for Veterans
Mental Health First Aid for Military Members, Veterans and their Families addresses common mental health concerns encountered by veterans and military members, teaches them and their family members how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The Soldiers Project
The Soldiers Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that provides free and confidential psychological services for any active duty service member or veteran involved in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 and for their families. It also educates the general public on how the psychological consequences of war affect not only those who serve, but also their loved ones at home and in their communities.

The Veterans Crisis Line
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential online chat service with qualified responders specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances. Since November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line has been providing a text messaging service, another way for Veterans to connect with confidential, round-the-clock support. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available too.

Coming Home Project
Coming Home Project addresses the emotional, social, moral, and spiritual injuries of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and the family challenges experienced during all stages of deployment, especially reintegration. Areas of expertise include but are not limited to cumulative trauma, traumatic loss, complicated grief, including but not limited to war trauma and its impacts on veterans, service members, and their families, providers and caregivers.

Warriors Heart
Warriors Heart provides private treatment to Veterans and First Responders seeking relief from substance abuse, chemical dependencies, various psychological conditions which might have developed related to job stress. Co-occurring psychological disorders treated by Warriors Heart include PTSD, MTBI and others.

Sites of Interest

This list of websites may be of particular interest for people serving/who have served in the military:

  • veteransfamiliesunited.org personal or family emergencies, short term financial assistance, scholarships
  • ourmilitarykids.org Grants for children of military personnel for participation in sports, fine arts, and tutoring programs.

https://www.jfla.org/