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Current as of March 9, 2021
Your military member is trained to stay focused on the mission at hand. But personal and family concerns can make that hard to do. And financial hardship is one common stressor that is on the rise.
If your service member has seen a drop in family income due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, is struggling with managing a paycheck for the first time, or is facing money troubles for other reasons, help is available. This includes service members and their immediate family having access to free resources such as financial counseling and emergency financial assistance.
Emergency relief for service members
When money is already tight, a job loss, costly car repair or other unexpected expense can increase debt quickly. But service members who are struggling to pay the rent or utilities may qualify for short-term help.
Each branch of the service has an emergency relief organization. Depending on the circumstances, these organizations provide interest-free loans, grants or a combination of both:
COVID-19 relief, zero-interest loans for National Guard
National Guard service members and their families are eligible to apply for an interest-free loan in the range of $500 to $2,000 with proof of a COVID-19 hardship.
Apply for the loan through the Enlisted Association National Guard of the United States We Care for America Foundation. Complete the verification form on the website and have your unit commander, a state senior enlisted leader, battalion command sergeant major, command chief master sergeant, first sergeant or a family programs representative sign the form. You must provide proof of a COVID-19-related financial emergency as well as your current or former status as a member of the National Guard.
The USAA Foundation and the American Red Cross are partners with EANGUS in this financial-relief effort. The ARC plans to process all applications within five to eight days of receipt. Once approved, the ARC will distribute the funds as quickly as possible.
Financial counseling can help now and for the future
Free financial counseling is available virtually through Military OneSource, and in person through installation programs. Financial counselors are experts in money management and are familiar with the issues that service members face. They can help your service member:
- Come up with a plan to pay back debt
- Take steps to resolve credit problems through referrals to appropriate military and civilian resources
- Create a budget and control spending
- Save for short- and long-term goals such as buying a car or home, or saving for college
Learn more about free financial management counseling options through Military OneSource.
Your service member can schedule one-on-one financial counseling through:
- Military OneSource. Sessions are available by calling 800-342-9647 or live chat.
- Installation financial readiness management programs. Service members can contact their installation’s Personal Financial Management Services office.
- Military and family life counseling programs. Service members can contact their installation’s Family Center.
Free financial education builds knowledge
Military OneSource and installations offer free financial management classes, seminars, online tools and more. Your service member can check the installation’s Financial Readiness Management Programs to see what’s available. There are virtual options, too, including:
- Money Matters courses. These 45-minute courses were developed by financial experts who understand military life. Topics cover car-buying strategies, consumer credit, developing a spending plan, investing in your future and moving in the military.
- Consumer, business and financial publications are free for your service member through the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library. Publications include Consumer Reports, Business Plan Builder, Entrepreneurship, Morningstar Investment Research Center and Weiss Financial Ratings.
Financial protections for service members
Your service member makes many sacrifices to serve our country. Financial hardships due to the demands of active duty or unethical lenders should not be among them. That’s why the federal government has added a layer of financial protection specifically for military members.
- The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides service members with financial and legal protections for financial hardships brought on by the demands of active duty. These range from interest rate reductions to eviction protection.
- The Military Lending Act protects service members and their families from predatory lenders who charge high interest rates and fees.
Help your service member stay mission ready and financially fit with the help of these free resources. Your service member can find more financial tools, information and resources, including military pay charts and calculators, on Military OneSource’s Personal Finances in the Military page.
Your service member doesn’t have to face financial hardship alone. Free information, resources and counseling are available.