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Vets Need Our Help: Now

Military-savingsThroughout history, our returning veterans have always faced challenges. However, recent reports have troubled me, showing that returning vets are facing more challenges than ever before.

According to a March 2013 study published by the Institutes of Medicine at the request of Congress, almost half of the 2.2 million troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan report difficulties on their return home.

For example:
  • Up to one in five suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, while a similar number have mild traumatic brain injury.
  • Some have overlapping health conditions, most commonly PTSD, substance use disorder, depression and symptoms related to mild TBI.
  • The unemployment rate among veterans aged 18-24 is over 30%, compared to 16% for civilians.

That’s sobering news. But what about other returning vets who didn’t report health or psychological difficulties? Most still face significant challenges, and often their challenges are related to finances.

For example, many young men and women who enlist right after high school have likely never thought about emergency funds, retirement savings or even household bills while working on bases or deployed overseas. When they leave the service, they need to find housing, transportation, health care and a job—and financial concerns often become real for the first time.

What You Can Do

As a CPA, you can serve those who have served our country by helping them bridge the gap between service and civilian life. Examples of areas where you can provide important guidance include:

  • How to develop a household budget
  • How to manage their “return” bonus
  • How to stretch money between returning home and employment

As you may already know, the AICPA has joined forces with the Small Business Association’s Service Corps of Retired Executives in the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative to connect veterans with CPAs across the country.  Through this program, you can volunteer and provide up to five hours of free financial advice to veterans on starting or growing a business.  This Veteran Fast Launch Initiative Toolkit, available to AICPA members, includes a customizable guide for veteran clients, sample press release and web sticker for CPAs to promote their volunteerism in their local communities.

Here are some other resources that can help you:

Our military provides a great service to our nation, and I hold each and every individual in the military in the highest regard. I urge you to consider volunteering your time and talents to help a vet make a critical transition from service to civilian life.

Ernest A. Almonte, CPA, MST, CFF, CITP, CGFM, Chief Visionary Officer and CEO, Almonte Group LLC. Ernie is chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. He founded and serves as the Chief Visionary Officer for Almonte Group LLC., a full service accounting and consulting firm providing tax, audit, anti-fraud, expert witness testimony, forensic accounting and consulting services.

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