(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- With millions of baby boomers entering their retirement years and millions more still struggling from recent economic shifts, Military Saves Week 2012 will focus on establishing a sound retirement fund.

This year's theme, Retirement Ready, and the Feb. 21 main event with the Army Community Services Financial Readiness Program and Col. Jamie Houston, is intended to guide participants through the thought process of where they are, where they want to be and how to get there.

For those feeling that they are too young, too old or just too busy to get started, even seemingly small steps can establish big payoffs -- especially with early planning and preparation.

Military Saves is a Department of Defense- wide financial readiness campaign to educate, persuade, motivate, and encourage Soldiers and their family members, as well as the wider military community, to reduce debt and save money each month.

Doing so can create doors of opportunity that would otherwise be closed to these individuals. The goal of the campaign is to improve financial readiness and improve savings rates and other wealth building activities to aid in-force readiness.

With the Army having the lowest Thrift Savings Plan contribution rates of the services, there is a huge opportunity for leaders to educate Soldiers. This year's campaign begins Feb. 19 and runs through Feb. 27. It will address:

 Establishing sustainable financial practices prior to and through retirement.

 Reducing debt burdens.

 Building reserves through savings and investment.

 Increasing awareness of the Thrift Savings Plan and other tax advantaged IRA options.

 Basic investing.

 Understanding the marketplace in which we invest.

 Estimating monthly retirement contributions based on age, goals, risk tolerance, current position and long-term historical rates of return.

Part of the Military Saves campaign includes "The Saver Pledge," a commitment to exercise good financial habits and encourage other Americans to do the same.

Savers who enroll online and take the pledge at www.militarysaves.org receive electronic newsletters and e-Wealth Coach advice. (Savers can also scan the QR code above.)

Few things add stress to family life like money problems and it is pretty tough to uncover a part of life which is not impacted by the household finances. Taking the pledge will provide a support group and free advice for moving forward.

Active duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, DoD civilians, retirees, veterans, defense contractors and family members are eligible to participate in this year's events. Leaders are welcome to RSVP their groups for training purposes or arrange an alternate date.

The Feb. 21 main event will be held in two blocks of instruction, 9 to 10:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., at the 81st Regional Support Command, 1525 Marion Ave. Individuals and/or units can RSVP with ACS Financial Readiness at 751-5256.