By Titus Ledbetter III, Belvoir EagleOctober 17, 2013
Fort Belvoir's Army Career and Alumni Program sponsored a five-hour financial planning class at Barden Education Center, Oct. 11.
More than a dozen separating servicemembers learned about how their healthcare and housing costs will change once they enter the civilian workplace.
Separating servicemembers should have emergency funds for car replacement and housing expenses, among other considerations, according to Wan McCormick, ACAP financial planner, who taught the class.
"Everybody has to retire at some point," she said. "That is incorporated into their financial plan as well."
The class was part of a five-day workshop under the Defense Department's new Transition Goals, Plans, and Success program, designed to help separating servicemembers transition to civilian life by offering job-search assistance and related services. The five-day workshop also includes various employment seminars. In 2012, Transitions GPS replaced the 20-year-old Transition Assistance Program, which provided similar services.
A recent congressional mandate stipulates that all separating servicemembers have a 12-month post-service spending plan that has been reviewed by a financial planner. Participants in the Oct. 11 class learned how to create their own spending plan, and McCormick reviewed each plan during one-on-one sessions after the class. However, McCormick did not collect the spending plans and keep the personal information of the separating servicemembers.
She taught the separating servicemembers how to figure out how much money they need to earn in the civilian workplace to make up for losing the military's tax-free benefits. Participants also determined their net worth.
McCormick hopes that everyone who attended her class learned everything that they need to know to successfully transition into the civilian job market. The biggest difference is the new tax responsibilities that separating servicemembers pay after leaving the military.
Staff Sgt. George Parker, a human resources specialist for Operational Support Airlift Agency Command, said the Oct. 11 workshop was great. He said he learned how to improve his financial planning. McCormick did a great job answering everyone's questions, Parker said.
"There is so much anxiety that you have leaving the service, and coming to this workshop eases some of that pain," he said.
First Sgt. Brett Guinan, with the Warrior Transition Brigade, said the class brought a lot of attention to how his finances will change when he enters the civilian workplace. He said that his commute will increase from five minutes to 30 minutes when he starts his new job.
"The workshop is excellent," Guinan said. "It is just a lot of information in a short period of time."
First Lt. Anita Akwetey, a registered nurse with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, said the class will help her transition into the civilian workplace. She also learned how she can navigate unemployment benefits if she is not able to find a job. Akwetey was impressed with McCormick's class.
"It was great," Akwetey said. "There are a lot of things that we didn't know that she brought to our attention."