“Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
On Veterans Day and throughout the year, SageVest Wealth Management proudly salutes those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country. We recognize and honor the many challenges and sacrifices you and your family make to support our freedom. These inevitably include a financial component.
On this Veterans Day, we encourage you to reach out to current and former forces personnel you know to extend a thank you, and to share a few financial insights that might benefit them and their families for the service they have provided.
On The Homefront
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a number of housing assistance options. If you suffer from certain service-related disabilities, free grants are available to help you modify your home. Guaranteed housing loan options include purchase loans, cash-out refinance loans, interest rate reduction refinance loans, and home improvement loans for energy-saving modifications.
Most VA-guaranteed home loans offer lower interest rates than commercially-available loans. They also typically require only a minimal, or sometimes, zero down payment. This can leave more money in your pocket at settlement and can be financially helpful in the short-term. However, it’s important to examine your monthly income versus expenditures to ensure that you can make the necessary repayments in the long run, while also saving for your future.
Veterans Pensions And Disability Income
The military retirement and disability pension system provides expansive pension programs to those who are disabled and those who have served for extended periods of time (typically 20 years or more). Credit toward a pension is also available if you transition from military to civilian government employment status, with appropriate planning and action. SageVest offers dedicated service to those who serve, including advising individuals and families on how to incorporate these robust, yet complex, benefit plans into a comprehensive wealth strategy. To find out more about how we can help, please contact us.
Education, Employment And Job Training
An education is often one of the most valuable assets you can possess. The GI Bill offers extensive training and education benefit programs to members of the Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces and their families. Be sure to explore educational benefits that can help you and those you love.
Thankfully, education assistance extends beyond your term of service, helping to address the sometimes daunting questions that arise when you retire from the armed forces. When should you make the move? How much will your pension be? If you decide to seek civilian employment, how do you start looking for a job? Which careers are you qualified for? How much will you earn? Where’s the best location? Which companies focus on helping Veterans like you? Fortunately, there’s a lot of help out there to help you answer these questions and more. If you’re transitioning into the civilian workforce, you may be more qualified than you think.
Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) is an independent agency within the Labor Department, specifically dedicated to assisting veterans transition from military to civilian life, train for and find good jobs, and to protect the employment and reemployment rights of Veterans.
G.I. Jobs, a national magazine for military jobseekers, creates an annual list of the best fields for Veterans to consider. The listing shows duties, required qualifications, and average salary. They also offer an online calculator, to help you estimate how much you’ll need to earn as a civilian to match your military pay and benefits.
Military Times conducts an extensive survey of national employers each year to determine the most military-friendly employers. Charles Schwab, the custodian of choice for SageVest Wealth Management, ranked number 5 for 2015.
The VA Online Job Bank lists almost 3 million jobs across the country and across many industry sectors. The VA also offers resources to help you brush up your job-seeking skills, and funding through programs like the Montgomery GI Bill, and Post-9/11 GI Bill to improve your educational and professional qualifications.
Veterans with entrepreneurial goals should also explore small business loan opportunities with the Small Business Administration and contract assistance through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated health care system. More than 6 million Veterans choose VA health care and are welcomed at more than 1,700 sites of care. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care, although some must pay modest co-pays. Services offered include prescriptions, preventive care, geriatrics and extended care, medical care, mental health care, and medical equipment, including prosthetics. With the costs of health care expected to rise by well over the rate of inflation, even for Federal workers, and long-term care insurers limiting or removing coverage for new plans, the VA health care system offers a financially advantageous way of satisfying your coverage requirements.
Credit Unions And Banks
Many financial institutions honor those who serve or have served our country.
Credit Unions: The main difference between a bank and a credit union is that the latter is a not-for-profit organization. Members (those that join the credit union) have a democratic say in how the credit union operates, and they receive dividends on surplus income. Some cater specifically to armed services personnel, members of Government agencies, and their families. This means that they better understand your specific needs and objectives when it comes to banking. Generally speaking, credit unions offer lower fee schedules and loan rates, and higher interest rates on deposits, making them a sound financial choice.
Banking Services: Several high street banks address Veteran assistance at the corporate level, by supporting warrior charities, by investing in hiring programs aimed at forces personnel or through other projects. Many also offer personal banking options, specifically tailored to your needs. Eligibility for banking products varies, as do the exact benefits. These can include:
• no overdraft fees
• no monthly service fees
• unlimited fee ATM transactions within the US
• credit cards with reduced variable APR on balances, greater cashback rewards, zero foreign transaction fees and even distinct designs.
The list above is by no means complete, as benefits and services to Veterans are deservingly extensive. A great place to visit to learn more is http://explore.va.gov/. We also welcome the opportunity to provide service and guidance to those who have served on our behalf.