With the 2018 launch of the Blended Retirement System, more U.S. veterans have found themselves with options for retirement savings. From only 19% of servicemembers having some benefits (under the previous system), now 85% of all service members will receive some sort of retirement benefit.
But having options is not enough if choosing from them is a mystery.
A recent government study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that there is a deficiency in financial literacy among service members. This creates a major obstacle for veterans to actually leverage the resources and tools before them.
In a Stars and Stripes post, veterans studies research fellow Rebecca Burgess of the American Enterprise Institute spoke to this issue. She noted how consulting firms surveying military families consistently encounter financial literacy as an issue.
“Veterans consistently say that they think they have enough mental health resources and know where and how to access those, but I’ve yet to see a survey Q&A that asked that same question about veterans and their awareness of available to them financial planning resources.”
While the military works on incorporating financial literacy programming into its training and support services, veterans need resources now. Fortunately, various public agencies and private companies have put together helpful materials to provide some clarity, not just on retirement but also on debt and taxes (important considerations along the way to retirement). We’ve listed some below in order to serve military veterans and their families.
It’s worth noting that a consultation with a professional financial advisor is always a good idea. But whether someone cannot afford it, or even if someone just wants to enter their appointment from an informed perspective, gaining as much knowledge as possible about financial options will help make the selection process more productive.
- Military Retirement – Compensation: Just in case you haven’t seen it, the DoD has a breakdown of the retirement portion of military compensation.
- Blended Retirement FAQs - Military OneSource, a part of the DoD, has a helpful section with frequently asked questions regarding the Blended Retirement System.
- State Veterans’ Benefits – A state-by-state breakdown of local veterans’ benefits offered, including retirement options and financial resources.
- Kiplinger’s Top Financial Benefits for Vets – Not just limited to retirement, this list features a wide range of different types of financial benefits, including some that are mentioned less often in discussion.
- Veterans’ Benefits for Retirement & Security - Birch Gold Group’s list of veterans’ resources highlights the various problems commonly encountered by service members, and help offer some clarity on solutions that pave the way for retirement and financial security.
- Financial Resources for Veterans in Debt – A list of resources to help with debt management, which can in turn free up more money for investing and other financial plans.
- Veterans’ Financial Coalition – The result of a collaboration among a range of financial organizations that seek to protect the financial and consumer needs of veterans.
- Tax Guide for Veterans – The Simple Dollar has a clear explanation of tax benefits as well as tips for filing, geared towards military veterans and their families.
- IRS Tax Guide for the Armed Forces – Straight from the Internal Revenue Service, here you can find the most up-to-date tax information. If something is unclear, consider searching for that term or phrase via Google, so you can start to find some alternative explanations.