Financial Readiness is Mission Critical
Congress, the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Military Services consider the financial readiness of service members to be mission critical.
A service member who must focus a significant amount of attention on addressing personal finance concerns has that much less attention to focus on other areas of life, including being a good service member.
Financial Literacy will also impact member retention rates and remove one of the major triggers for suicide in the military.
Congress considered financial readiness to be so critical that it mandated financial education at many points in the military life cycle. That’s why service members are required to complete a series of financial education and training activities at various points in their career.
Unique Financial Challenges
Military Members Face
Government Mandates for Increasing Financial Readiness
The U.S. Government has shown its dedication to promoting financial literacy among the military services by mandating financial services training and counseling for all armed forces personnel. By passing USC 992 in July 2016, the U.S. Government demonstrated its commitment to promoting military financial readiness. This legislation mandates that the Department of Defense provide all members of the nation’s armed forces with comprehensive financial literacy training.
To fulfill the requirements of this mandate, the Office of Financial Readiness (OFR) was created. This office was set up to provide the required military personal finance training at each touchpoint indicated in the mandate; the OFR also makes Personal Financial Managers/ Counselors available through Family Centers developed to serve armed forces members.
10 U.S. Code § 992. Financial literacy training: financial services
(a)Requirement for Financial Literacy Training Program for Members.—
(1)The Secretary concerned shall carry out a program to provide comprehensive financial literacy training to members of the armed forces under the jurisdiction of the Secretary on—
(A)financial services that are available under law to members;
(B)financial services that are routinely offered by private sector sources to members;
(C)practices relating to the marketing of private sector financial services to members;
(E)such other financial practices as the Secretary considers appropriate.
(2)Training under this subsection shall be provided to a member of the armed forces—
(A)as a component of the initial entry training of the member;
(B)upon arrival at the first duty station of the member;
(C)upon arrival at each subsequent duty station, in the case of a member in pay grade E–4 or below or in pay grade O–3 or below;
(D)on the date of promotion of the member, in the case of a member in pay grade E–5 or below or in pay grade O–4 or below;
(E)when the member vests in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) under section 8432(g)(2)(C) of title 5;
(F)when the member becomes entitled to receive continuation pay under section 356 of title 37, at which time the training shall include, at a minimum, information on options available to the member regarding the use of continuation pay;
(G)at each major life event during the service of the member, such as—
(iii)birth of first child; or
(iv)disabling sickness or condition;
(H)during leadership training;
(I)during pre-deployment training and during post-deployment training;
(J)at transition points in the service of the member, such as—
(i)transition from a regular component to a reserve component;
(ii)separation from service; or
(K)as a component of periodically recurring required training that is provided to the member at a military installation.
(3)The training provided at a military installation under paragraph (2)(J) shall include information on any financial services marketing practices that are particularly prevalent at that military installation and in the vicinity.
(4)The Secretary concerned shall prescribe regulations setting forth any other events and circumstances (in addition to the events and circumstances described in paragraph (2)) upon which the training required by this subsection shall be provided.
(b)Counseling for Members and Spouses.—
(1)The Secretary concerned shall, upon request, provide counseling on financial services to each member of the armed forces, and such member’s spouse, under the jurisdiction of the Secretary.
(A)In the case of a military installation at which at least 2,000 members of the armed forces on active duty are assigned, the Secretary concerned—
(ii)may provide such counseling at such installation by any means elected by the Secretary from among the following:
(I)Through members of the armed forces in pay grade E–7 or above, or civilians, who provide such counseling as part of their other duties for the armed forces or the Department of Defense.
(II)By contract, including contract for services by telephone and by the Internet.
(III)Through qualified representatives of nonprofit organizations and agencies under formal agreements with the Department of Defense to provide such counseling.
(B)In the case of any military installation not described in subparagraph (A), the Secretary concerned shall provide counseling on financial services under this subsection at such installation by any of the means set forth in subparagraph (A)(ii), as elected by the Secretary concerned.
(3)Each financial services counselor under paragraph (2)(A)(i), and any other individual providing counseling on financial services under paragraph (2), shall be an individual who, by reason of education, training, or experience, is qualified to provide helpful counseling to members of the armed forces and their spouses on financial services and marketing practices described in subsection (a)(1). Such individual may be a member of the armed forces or an employee of the Federal Government.
(4)The Secretary concerned shall take such action as is necessary to ensure that each financial services counselor under paragraph (2)(A)(i), and any other individual providing counseling on financial services under paragraphs (2), is free from conflicts of interest relevant to the performance of duty under this section and, in the performance of that duty, is dedicated to furnishing members of the armed forces and their spouses with helpful information and counseling on financial services and related marketing practices.
In counseling a member of the armed forces, or spouse of a member of the armed forces, under this section regarding life insurance offered by a private sector source, a financial services counselor under subsection (b)(2)(A)(i), or another individual providing counseling on financial services under subsection (b)(2), shall furnish the member or spouse, as the case may be, with information on the availability of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance under subchapter III of chapter 19 of title 38, including information on the amounts of coverage available and the procedures for electing coverage and the amount of coverage.
(d)Financial Literacy and Preparedness Survey.—
(1)The Director of the Defense Manpower Data Center shall annually include in the status of forces survey a survey of the status of the financial literacy and preparedness of members of the armed forces.
(2)The results of the annual financial literacy and preparedness survey—
(A)shall be used by each of the Secretaries concerned as a benchmark to evaluate and update training provided under this section; and
(B)shall be submitted to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
(e)Financial Services Defined.—In this section, the term “financial services” includes the following:
(1)Life insurance, casualty insurance, and other insurance.
(2)Investments in securities or financial instruments.
(3)Banking, credit, loans, deferred payment plans, and mortgages.
(4)Health insurance, budget management, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), retirement lump sum payments (including rollover options and tax consequences), and Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).