Coalition helps communities help vets

Published: Saturday, November 05, 2016

Our Outreach staff educated veterans, and other military families on financial materials.

Consumer Action has been busy traveling to communities across the U.S. to educate those that serve veterans, servicemembers and military families on how to best prepare this population for their financial futures. Consumer Action’s efforts are on behalf of the Veterans Financial Coalition, funded by Visa Inc.

This year the coalition has held “train-the-trainer” veterans roundtables in San Diego, CA, Killeen, TX and Jersey City, NJ. The trainings, which feature our informative Economic Survival Guide for Servicemembers and Veterans, are geared toward community-based organizations in cities with large veteran populations.

“There is a critical need to reach and educate the many veterans residing in areas like Central and South Texas and to provide them with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and prosper financially,” said Ken McEldowney, executive director of Consumer Action. “With proper training, education and access to appropriate resources, we believe this oftentimes vulnerable population can make appropriate, informed decisions about the financial future.”

Scammers and predatory lenders often aggressively market to former and current military members, offering high-interest payday loans, credits cards with abusive terms and other sketchy financial products. This makes it particularly important for military families, that are often low income, to be aware of the legitimate borrowing and banking options available to them and the many laws designed to protect them.

Each training session, led by Consumer Action’s outreach managers, prepares representatives of participating local community-based organizations to conduct one-on-one financial education, counseling, group presentations and workshops in their communities. Participants earned continuing education units from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE), another Veterans Financial Coalition partner. Rosa Gonzalez-Abrego, senior director of housing services programs at Easter Seals Central Texas, attended the Killeen roundtable. The event was particularly timely for the organization’s staff, as the agency recently was awarded a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission to serve disabled veterans. The grant enables the organization to make essential home repairs and modifications for disabled veterans living in unsafe, inaccessible homes. At the same time the group can reach veterans in need of financial counsel. The Easter Seals chapter is a long-time community partner of Consumer Action.

Easter Seals Central Texas intends to incorporate Consumer Action’s Economic Survival Guide into its disabled veterans education efforts. The group’s staff will give veterans the information during their initial assessments and offer an option to receive further counseling on the topics outlined in the training module.

 

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