CAMP DARBY, Italy- Life has a funny way of throwing opportunities your way when you least expect it. For me that opportunity came in the form of a good friend who told me about a financial counselor fellowship for spouses of all branches of the U.S. military. Ironically, I had thought about getting a finance degree, but the university I was graduating from didn\'t offer it. Who knew I would become involved in the world of finance regardless.

I actually had misgivings about applying for the fellowship. I had just committed to yet another volunteer position, and we were about to move to a new duty location. Still, I firmly believe that whatever happens is meant to be, and that we are only given what we can handle. Imagine my surprise when I was notified that I was one of the 195 (out of some 2,200 spouses) who was awarded FINRA's 2009 Military Spouse Fellowship to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) designation.

This program, supported by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) and the National Military Family Association (NMFA) covers the costs associated with completing the AFC training and testing. In addition to passing two exams, a fellow must complete a designated number of practicum hours in the financial field within a two-year period in order to receive the AFC certification. This time frame could not have been more perfect since our upcoming tour was for two years.

Being stationed at Camp Darby, Italy was a blessing. Although the ACS Financial Readiness Program Manager (who I had planned on shadowing) PCS'ed a few months after I arrived, I got to spend some time with her to learn the ropes and get insight into the financial field. As part of my practicum, I certified as a tax preparer and volunteered at the VITA tax center on post along with another spouse fellow.

After I passed the second exam, I completed my practicum hours by filling in the Financial Readiness Program seat for the next four months. I officially received my AFC designation just one year after I was awarded the fellowship, which qualified me to be hired into the Financial Readiness position at Camp Darby's Army Community Service.

So you see, you never know what direction life can take you. You just have to have the courage to answer the opportunities when they come knocking on your door. So if you're interested in becoming a financial counselor, look for the online application on the National Military Family Association website around the beginning of the year. For more information, go to

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16