Financial Wellness Resources for Veterans and Their Families
Military Families Appreciation Month is a perfect time to appreciate our veterans and their families who have made sacrifices on our behalf. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the financial wellness services and resources available to them.
I recommend an annual financial checkup for everybody, and LSS Financial Counseling is uniquely positioned to support those who have bravely served our country. Our certified financial counselors are experienced, provide compassionate support and have undergone PsychArmor training to better serve service members and veterans. We work with individuals and families on budgets, debt management, credit improvement, student loans and successful homebuying, along with reaching other financial goals. Counselors can also assist with identifying areas of the budget where money can be saved, plus direct folks to less expensive options to reduce expenses even more!
LSS CORE Services for Military Families
In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, our CORE (Casework, Outreach, Referral and Education) service offers behavioral health counseling, caregiver support and respite, case management, financial counseling, housing and support groups to qualifying veterans and their families. Our financial counseling service assists veterans with meeting requirements for grants by completing a financial review, creating a budget and making recommendations to support them and their families in achieving financial stability and security. We also serve veterans who do not meet CORE requirements. Our website has a complete list of our financial wellness services.
Other Agencies Supporting Military Families
- Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MAC-V), whose mission is to end veteran homelessness.
- Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA). The MDVA runs Minnesota's five state Veterans Homes and assists Minnesota's 308,000 veterans and their dependents to obtain the benefits and services provided by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
- County Veterans Service Officers (CVSO) are available to provide information on all county veterans benefits and services. CVSO's are located in every Minnesota county. Connect with them through macvso.org, or call 888-LinkVet (546.5838).
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV) provides assistance for those with serious, service-related injuries. DAV is a nonprofit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families.
Banking: To help veterans obtain high-quality service, high-reward and low-cost banking, the Veterans Administration (VA) offers Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP). You will find links to veteran- exclusive or veteran-friendly financial services on their website. Some of the institutions on VBBP site are better known, like USAA and Navy Federal. However, there are many more options, including the Armed Forces Bank and others. Check it out!
Insurance: When I review insurance policies and costs with the veterans I support, many are surprised to know that some of the highest-rated companies are connected to veterans like USAA and GEICO. In fact, I recently learned that GEICO, which stands for Government Employees Insurance Company, was originally formed to exclusively serve government and military personnel. For more information on auto insurance options, as well as tips for saving on car insurance and receiving car-buying discounts, read this U.S. News and World Report article.
Homeownership: For veterans looking for a more affordable home, whether through a purchase or refinancing a mortgage, I encourage exploring VA loans. According to a recent New York Times article, “For Military Families, V.A. Loans Are a Lifeline,” about 25 million military members and veterans have used the loan since it was established in 1944. Its benefits include no down payment, competitive interest rates and no requirement for private mortgage insurance. Since active military families move on average every two or three years, these benefits and reduced costs can help keep owning a home affordable. However, VA home loans also come with challenges, such as increased requirements for documents and paperwork and a belief by some sellers that VA loans are risky.
Opportunities for Savings: Finally, I just want to remind veterans and servicemembers to ask for a veterans or military discount where they shop and seek out merchants who offer discounts. The VA has an online listing of businesses and companies providing year-round discounts on automotive products, clothing, computers and other electronics, restaurants, health and beauty, home and garden and many more items. As a veteran or active military member, you might have made many financial sacrifices. You can get started by saving some money now to help create a more secure financial future for both you and your loved ones!
To contact us through our CORE service, call 844.LSS.CORE (844.577.2673). You can also contact LSS Financial Counseling directly at 888.577.2227 or get all your support online. Our appointments are free and confidential.
Author Bryan Brown is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling. He specializes in supporting military members and their families.