At least once a week, I hear a story about a military family, veteran, retiree, or survivor who is in a less-than-ideal situation because either they don’t know about the benefits available to them, or they didn’t understand the long-term implications of a choice that they made. It’s heart-wrenching, but it is also frustrating.
Back in the olden days, it was entirely possible for service members and their families to legitimately not know about stuff. When I was a newlywed, back in the dark ages, the only way I learned about pay and benefit issues was either from other military families or the Navy Times. Thankfully, it’s 2016 and there are a million ways to know about everything pay and benefit-related. Heck, this entire website, Military.com, exists for that sole purpose. I have yet to find a pay and benefits topic that isn’t covered somewhere here at Military.com.
In addition, there are many other resources. Bases have financial management and benefits classes and counselors at their family service centers. Everything published by the Department of Defense is available on the internet, and pretty easy to find with an internet search. If you need moral support or prefer to learn in a group setting, there are Facebook groups like Personal Finance for Military Service Members and Families and Military in Transition.
The top three issues that military families seem to lack knowledge about:
Survivor Benefit Plan
How to transfer the Post 9/11 GI Bill
Benefits for survivors of active duty members who die while serving
These are all incredibly important topics, and there are thousands of pages written about each of them. Please, please, make time to learn about these and other pay and benefits issues. Read, ask questions, attend classes – do whatever you need to do to understand things thoroughly. Your long-term plans and back-up plans can’t be right unless you have all the information. No one wants to discover that their long-term plans don’t actually work when it is too late to fix them.