By Michael Norris, Pentagram Assistant Editor February 15, 2013
Urging military personnel and Family members to save for the future and budget their finances is the goal of Military Saves Week on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Feb. 25-March 2. The theme of the 2013 campaign is "Set a Goal, Make a Plan, Save Automatically."
Representatives from Army Community Service will have information tables set up at various locations across the base during the week, with the primary observance held Feb. 26 at the community center from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The event will be held in conjunction with the kick-off to the base Army Emergency Relief Campaign, with retired Lt. Gen. Robert F. Foley as the guest speaker. Foley is the director of AER Headquarters and the former commander of the Military District of Washington.
The AER portion of the program will take place from 10-10:35 a.m., followed by the Military Saves segment, which includes participation from representatives of military financial institutions who will be available to answer questions.
According to JBM-HH Financial Readiness Program Manager Leonard Toyer, it's important for military personnel to keep their financial house in order. Having bad credit can affect a Soldiers' security clearance or bar them from reenlistment, he said. Learning to budget and handle money is especially important in a high cost of living area like Washington, D.C., he added.
Toyer said he sees two to four people a day for consultation about their financial situation. Jim Murphy, a Marine Corps Personal Financial Management Program counselor on the Henderson Hall portion of JBM-HH, included a Military Saves presentation as part of weekend holiday safety briefing for Marines Feb. 14 at the Joe Rosenthal Theater.
"It's not costs that are at the center of young people's problems," said Murphy, referencing the Washington area's cost of living. "It's understanding the nature of expenses and allocating resources."
With student loans, car loans and credit card debt, he said, "It's stunning how some people will lose sight of a given [balance, calculating] what's taken in and what goes out."
Murphy said he counsels between 20 and 30 individuals a month on financial issues.
Aundra' Owens, vice president of the JBM-HH branch of the Armed Forces Bank, one of the financial institutions participating in the Feb. 26 Military Saves event, said young servicemembers don't have to start off big when starting a savings account. He said some institutions waive minimum balances on an account for the first six months so as to encourage people to save and build a nest egg.
"You can start off small and go from there, that's half the battle," he said.
"Military Saves Week is an opportunity for our military community to come together with federal, state, and local resources, including military banks and credit unions, to focus on the financial readiness of military members and their families to help them reduce debt and save for the future," wrote Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and his Senior Enlisted Advisor, Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia in a memorandum endorsing the campaign. "These efforts are key to maintaining financial fitness and personal readiness."