Veterans and Financial Literacy

Financial stability is an essential component of being able to live a secure, happy life. One of the biggest factors that can influence an individual’s financial stability is their financial literacy―that is, their ability to manage their finances and make informed financial decisions. However, when it comes to financial literacy, civilians and veterans often have markedly different experiences, and understanding the differences between their situations might provide some key insights on the issue of veteran homelessness.

Veteran Finances: Background and Statistics

The financial situations of veterans vary widely between individuals. However, surveys have revealed some interesting (and concerning) trends across the veteran population. One 2014 poll published by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling reported the following findings:

  • “Servicemembers are more likely to rely on—and perhaps misuse—credit cards than U.S. adults.”
  • “More than half (55%) [of servicemembers] do not feel very prepared, financially speaking, for an emergency.”
  • Despite the fact that servicemembers have generally positive experiences with finding loans, “6 in 10 servicemembers (60%) still say they had to look outside of traditional institutions to find alternative, non-traditional lenders to meet their needs.”
  • “In addition, almost 1 in 5 servicemembers have job-related concerns (17%).”

The Importance of Financial Help for Veterans

In parsing this complex issue, some have pointed to the military’s responsibility to provide education and help for veterans in financial trouble. Particularly for individuals who enlist at a young age, military environments (particularly deployments, where servicemembers’ financial needs are effectively taken care of) may make it difficult for servicemembers to learn crucial financial literacy skills, a circumstance which in turn reduces financial literacy for veterans

These observations are corroborated by research by the National Veterans Technical Assistance Center, which concluded that “military life can amplify and exacerbate financial problems” in unique ways. Frequent moves, difficulty building savings, credit card debt, problems with stable employment, and vulnerability to predatory lenders (such as payday lending businesses) can all lead to unfavorable financial straits for servicemembers and veterans, which in turn may increase their risk of homelessness. 

National Veterans Homeless Support seeks to eliminate homelessness among veterans in Central Florida and nationwide. NVHS takes a proactive, intervention-based approach to homelessness by meeting homeless veterans where they are and helping them from there. Through programs like Search and Rescue Outreach, NVHS helps homeless veterans get the supplies they need to survive, connects them with support and resources, and helps them transition off the streets and into temporary or permanent housing. If you’re able, consider supporting our mission by donating or signing on as a volunteer.