I wanted to honor veterans by highlighting resources, financial and otherwise, that might be beneficial to those who have served. I believe the best place to start is with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website. As noted in their Mission Statement, the purpose of the Veterans Administration is to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.
As you might imagine, this website is the most comprehensive site for all matters related to veterans. The three key areas for veterans, and family members, are front and center on the homepage: Health Care (hospitals, clinics and online pharmacy), Benefits (compensation, education and training) and Burials and Memorials. If you are a veteran, or the family member of a veteran, this is a great place to start if you have questions or are looking for veteran related information.
Within the VA website you will find The National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics (NCVAS). The purpose of NCVAS is to support planning, analysis, and decision-making activities through the collection, validation, analysis, and dissemination of key statistics on Veteran population and VA programs. In other words, how veteran services evolve and are administered is based on the surveys, reports, etc. that are maintained here. Some interesting information regarding veterans can be found here. Ever wonder how many VA hospitals exist? It’s 150. Want to know the current number of veterans? Curious to know how veterans are geographically disbursed? As of September 30, 2014, there were 532,206 in my home state of Arizona.
Interested in conducting your insurance, banking, investing and real estate affairs with a financial services company that focuses on active duty members, veterans and their families? You might consider USAA. As noted on the site, USAA membership is open to U.S. military service members, veterans who have honorably served and their eligible family members. In our household, my wife maintains a checking account with USAA while I have a term-life insurance policy through them.
Are you an active duty member or a veteran, like myself, that has gone on to continue service as a federal employee? If so, you should absolutely be familiar with the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) as you conduct your retirement planning. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees and members of the uniformed services, including the Ready Reserve. It was established by Congress in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986 and offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. By participating in the TSP, Federal employees have the opportunity to save part of their income for retirement, receive matching agency contributions, and reduce their current taxes.
In addition to the TSP site itself, a great source for understanding the TSP program and the options available for TSP participants – uniformed and civilian – is the official TSP YouTube site. Various topics covered in multiple videos include understanding why investment expenses matter, understanding the Roth TSP, frequently asked questions and withdrawals along with many more.
The TSP is considered among the best available retirement savings plans. One indication of that fact? The low expense ratio. In 2016, the average expense ratio for each of the available funds was 0.038%. For those that are familiar with the negative impact of fees, that incredibly low rate can be appreciated. If you are a uniformed service or civilian member, I strongly encourage you to visit both sites as they will assist you in fully understanding the TSP and how it can benefit you in your quest for a comfortable retirement. Additionally, if you know someone, perhaps a family member that is a service member or civilian employee, you should encourage them to check out both sites.
As noted on the website, Military.com connects service members, military families and veterans to all the benefits of service — government benefits, scholarships, discounts, lifelong friends, mentors, great stories of military life or missions and more. Some good links on the Benefits page include: GI Bill calculator, military pay, job search, veteran networking, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, be sure to check out their Veterans Day Discount and Freebies page which provides links and information for Veterans Day discounts on restaurants, goods, services and events.
TRICARE is the health care program for almost 9.5 million beneficiaries worldwide. If you are a retiree looking for information related to eligibility, health plans, prescriptions, military hospitals and clinics and filing claims, this is a good place to start.
As an ex-serviceman or woman, it can be difficult to make that transition from the military to civilian life. Getting a job may be one of the hurdles you have to overcome as some find it difficult to find employment after leaving the forces. However, there are a number of charities and organizations that have been established to help you find your next role. For our friends in the UK, RS Components identifies some resources for ex-service personnel searching for a career in a trade.
If you know of a resource or a service that benefits veterans, please feel free to make mention in the comments section and provide a link if applicable.