Five Facts About Military Personnel’s Financial Status

Generally speaking, U.S. military veterans fare well financially. Active-duty personnel are more hard-pressed, but the government sometimes helps in various ways.

  1. In general, military veterans fare comparatively well financially.

U.S. military veterans and their families “have consistently had higher standards of living than non-veterans over the past 40 years,” according to a recent Pew Research study. Households headed by veterans have higher incomes and are less likely to be in poverty, the research found, adding: “This is especially the case for veterans in racial or ethnic minority groups and those with less education.”

  1. Finding the first civilian job is often a vet’s biggest challenge.

While vets, on average, eventually do well in the civilian U.S. economy, they often struggle to get started. A University of Washington study concluded that “the U.S. military does an extremely effective job of training veterans to operate within the military and an extremely poor job of preparing them, especially young service members, for post-military jobs.” A 2015 study from the University of Southern California School of Social Work found similar issues for veterans trying to enter the civilian labor market.

  1. Many active-duty families struggle financially.

A recent report in cited a survey showing that 27 percent of active-duty personnel had more than $10,000 in credit card debt, compared with 16 percent of civilians. More than one-third of military families said they struggle to pay their bills each month. And one in five had to borrow money from sources other than banks.

  1. The Pentagon has helped protect military personnel from predatory lenders.

In 2015, the Defense Department took steps to protect armed services members from payday lenders who charge exorbitant fees and interest rates. The action built on earlier legislation and regulations that some payday lenders had managed to circumvent. The new restrictions capped at 36 percent the interest rate on covered loans to active-duty service members; required disclosures of borrowers’ rights; and prohibited creditors from requiring service members to submit to arbitration in disputes.

  1. Some lawmakers seek new employment help for vets amid the pandemic.

A bipartisan group of senators wants to lift the 12-year deadline for disabled vets to begin accessing the Veterans Administration’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefit. The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) says, “ending the unnecessary time-limit for veterans’ job benefits reduces veterans’ unemployment and helps ensure all veterans can use the benefits they’ve earned.”


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