Financial Freedom: a guide for women veterans

Financial Literacy Month: A Guide for Women Veterans

We have all heard the saying that April showers bring May flowers. But did you know that April also presents us another way to look at this old adage? Also known as Financial Literacy Month, April is a time to cultivate strong financial knowledge and practices, which will yield great rewards later. For Women Veterans like you, this opportunity is important. This is a time in which you are empowered to access tools and earned benefits to help you make sound financial decisions. 

Understanding The Challenges

At WVIF, we know that when you transition from military to civilian life, financial preparations can be a particularly challenging part of your journey. Challenges might include translating military skills to civilian job requirements, adjusting to differences in pay and benefits, navigating complex paperwork for VA benefits, or something different. 

Employment Gaps 

One of the primary hurdles you might face during this transition is navigating employment gaps. In fact, research shows that Women Veterans experience longer employment gaps than their male counterparts. This presents a significant stressor. Women Veterans are often the sole caregiver for their children, so an employment gap adds a significant burden on their ability to provide as they desire.

Preparing early, learning how to craft a civilian-friendly resume, networking, and even practicing your interview skills can help close that gap. 

Income Loss

Transitioning from military service to civilian life can also mean facing potential income loss. The pay and benefits you received in the military may not directly translate into civilian salaries, which can lead to financial strain. Plus, the adjustment period between leaving the military and securing civilian employment can further complicate this issue, making it crucial to plan and prepare for any financial gaps.

According to a 2021 Statista report, Women Veterans often face discrepancies in salaries compared to their male counterparts, exacerbating financial strain during the transition from military to civilian life. These discrepancies underscore the importance of proactive financial planning to bridge any income gaps and ensure a smoother transition into civilian employment.

Awareness of Resources 

Despite the numerous resources available to veterans, many women may not be aware of or have access to them. From VA benefits to community programs, this maze of available resources can be overwhelming, especially without proper guidance. Do not stress, because there are organizations and support systems out there specifically designed to help you access and make the most of these resources.

According to a report by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), a significant percentage of Women Veterans face challenges in navigating the transition process and accessing available resources. Despite these challenges, there are organizations and support systems specifically designed to help Women Veterans access and maximize the benefits and resources they deserve.

Find Financial Empowerment in Your Transition

Take time during Financial Literacy Month to create a comprehensive financial plan and leverage valuable resources. You can navigate the challenges with confidence and pave the way for a secure and prosperous future.

1. Financial Planning

Start by creating a comprehensive financial plan that outlines your short-term and long-term goals. Identify your sources of income, expenses, and assets. Set realistic budgets and savings targets to ensure financial stability during the transition period and beyond.

According to Money Geek, it is recommended to start your comprehensive financial plan when you’re at least 12 months away from your known EAS (end active service) or retirement date. This timeline allows you sufficient time to assess your financial situation, set realistic goals, and implement strategies to achieve them before your transition into civilian life. By starting early, you can effectively address any financial challenges, explore opportunities for savings and investment, and ensure a smoother transition into your post-military career or retirement. 

2. Education and Training

Take advantage of educational and training opportunities to enhance your skills and qualifications for civilian employment. Programs like the GI Bill, vocational training and Skill Bridge, can help bridge the gap between military and civilian careers.

These earned benefits can prepare you for a brand new career, set you on a path to an advanced degree, or specifically train you for in-demand skilled jobs. Often, these programs and education benefits help you build connections to well paying employers. In the process, you build financial security by preventing employment gaps or income loss.

3. Utilize VA Benefits

Explore the full range of VA benefits available to you, including healthcare, education, home loans, and disability compensation. Understanding and accessing these benefits can provide crucial support during the transition process.

A good first step to understand VA benefits is to reach out to the VA call center. This resource can provide personalized guidance and support tailored to your needs, helping you navigate the complexities of the process with clarity and confidence. By connecting with the call center, you can gain valuable insights into the benefits you’re eligible for and how to access them, setting a strong foundation for your transition journey.

4. Build a Professional Network

Networking is key to finding employment opportunities in the civilian sector. Attend job fairs, join professional associations such as WVIF, and connect with fellow veterans and industry professionals. Networking can open doors to job opportunities and mentorship.

Seek out virtual and in-person events in your area, which offer networking events to suit your needs. You might consider joining one of WVIF’s four chapters, or searching VA’s events calendar to explore their outreach opportunities.

5. Seek Financial Counseling

Consider seeking guidance from financial advisors or counselors who specialize in working with veterans. They can provide personalized advice on budgeting, saving, investing, and navigating complex financial situations.

And don’t be scared! Quality financial counseling doesn’t have to empty your wallet. In fact, numerous free financial education resources are available to you, including USAA Educational Foundation, PenFed Foundation, and more.

6. Explore Community Resources

Research local community resources and organizations dedicated to supporting veterans. From career counseling services to financial assistance programs, these resources can offer valuable support during your transition journey.

Check out your local chamber of commerce to see what organizations in your community service this need. Or, connect with your local VFW or community-based organizations to determine what kinds of financial education programs are available to you. You might even find great resources by asking your local librarian!

Navigating Financial Transition with Confidence

Transitioning from military to civilian life is a significant milestone for you as a women veteran, and it comes with its share of financial challenges. However, by understanding these challenges and proactively preparing for them, you can navigate the transition process with confidence and ease. With the support of organizations like Women Veterans Interactive Foundation and access to resources and guidance, you can achieve financial stability and thrive in your post-military life. This Financial Literacy Month, take control of your financial futures and build a secure and prosperous tomorrow.

As you begin to transition, we invite you to take a proactive step towards securing your financial future by becoming a member at WVIF. By joining, you’ll connect with a supportive community, gain access to valuable training, unlock career advancement opportunities, and receive mentorship to guide you through this transition and beyond. Take charge of your financial well-being today and invest in a brighter tomorrow with WVIF.