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NewsFlash | Financial Readiness

Financial Readiness

Handshake Making₵ents Smart Money Strategies — Personal Finance Knowledge Center for military life providing step-by-step information and education for navigating auto loans, saving for retirement, paying for college, buying a home and much more. From expert advice to budget calculators, our tools and resources can help you achieve your financial goals. Saving and budgeting work together to help you enjoy a better today and build a more secure tomorrow.

Prudential Pathways Seminars for Veterans — Prudential Financial, Inc. provide Veterans, transitioning Servicemembers and their families with access to financial wellness resources to improve their economic well-being and financial stability at no cost. Financial literacy produces better personal economic outcomes, housing stability, improved mental health and overall well-being. The resources are designed to help individuals manage their money more effectively, improve their financial resiliency, and reach their financial goals. Wellness Wednesday seminars are conducted live, offered free of charge to transitioning service members, Veterans and their families, and offer the opportunity to ask questions of a qualified financial counselor. VA partners with Prudential Financial Services. to provide these classes.

FDIC Money Smart — First released in 2001 and regularly updated since then, Money Smart has a long track record of success in reducing stress and improving financial readiness of Veterans. NW MIRECC started with the FDIC Money Smart program through the 'Helping Veterans #GetBanked and Manage Their Money' training program. The training program provided resources to Veterans Service Organizations, VA special Outreach Program Coordinators, and others who provide direct services to U.S. Veterans and have a direct interest in increasing Veterans’ financial capability. As a member of the Money Smart Alliance, NW MIRECC helps promote financial capability to strengthen the financial education efforts of Veterans, Servicemembers, and their families.

Financial Wellness: Sound Principles For Successful Money Management — Published in collaboration with nonprofit Guideposts, this instructive booklet, Financial Readiness— Sound Principles for Successful Money Management, addresses an important aspect of preparedness. Financial strains of deployments, unforeseen emergencies and “over-the-top” phone bills can burden even the most purposeful among us. Advice from trusted mentors who work to help those with financial difficulties. Providing insight into setting goals, forming budgets, understanding credit, and investing for the future are treated in clear, understandable terms. These principles help obtain a more secure financial future through more careful spending and improved saving and investing habits.

NCUA Financial Well-Being of Servicemembers & Their Families — Servicemembers and military families face unique financial challenges, whether on active duty, returning to civilian life, or living as a veteran. In recent years, servicemembers have joined the ranks of those who are considered most vulnerable to predatory lenders and identity theft. Most military families today are not saving adequately for retirement, and many do not have an emergency fund.

Wounded Warrior holding American flag on snowy mountainsideCost of Living Allowance Watch — Periodically, VA makes cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to VA beneficiaries and surviving spouses. COLA is calculated by CPI-W monthly reports (July, August, September) of the current fiscal year to the average for the same months of the previous fiscal year. COLA is calculated and reported monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics through the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) with final 12-Month Percent Change. The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) publishes monthly updates and inflation figures (COLA Watch) used to set the COLA for payments received by military retirees, disabled veterans, Social Security beneficiaries, and many others receiving federal compensation.

Veterans Life Insurance — As part of the VA mission to serve Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families, VA provides valuable life insurance benefits to give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family is protected. Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI) provides low-cost coverage to eligible service members. The VALife program includes key dates and features impacting the Service Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) program. VALife is guaranteed acceptance whole life insurance. This means that if you meet the eligibility requirements for VALife, VA will automatically approve your application. You won’t need to prove you’re in good health. And you can keep your coverage for the rest of your life. The following persons are automatically insured by law for $400,000 under SGLI:

  • Active duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Space Force, and Coast Guard
  • Commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • U.S. Public Health Service (UPHS)
  • Cadets or midshipmen of the four U.S. military academies (midshipmen/women at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy are not covered by SGLI)
  • Members, cadets, and midshipmen of the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) while engaged in authorized training and practice cruises
  • Members of the Ready Reserves/National Guard who are scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year
  • Service members who volunteer for a mobilization category in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)

American Red Cross Emergency Services — The Department of Defense (DoD) and the American Red Cross have partnered since 1881. The American Red Cross delivers verified messages to deployed service members during emergencies at home. Service members eligible to receive emergency communications regarding an immediate family member include:

  • Active-Duty Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force and Space Force
  • Activated members of the National Guard and Reserves of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • DoD civilians and contractors stationed OCONUS
  • Service Academy Cadet or Midshipman; ROTC Cadet on orders for training
  • A Merchant Marine aboard a U.S. Naval Ship

The American Red Cross Hero Care Center is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The purpose of the American Red Cross is to meet the immediate disaster-caused needs of individuals, families, and communities. Explore how American Red Cross responds to disasters big and small, across the country.

Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, Space Force Emergency ReliefArmy Emergency Relief — Charged with relieving undue financial stress on the force, AER serves the enduring priorities of the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. Company commanders or first sergeants can approve immediate financial assistance.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society — Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provides financial assistance and education, as well as other programs and services, to active duty and retired Sailors, Marines and their families in financial need.

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance — Supporting and offering aid to the entire Coast Guard family; Active-duty and retired military personnel, civilian employees, commissioned officers of the Public Health Service serving with the Coast Guard, Reservists, Auxiliarists, and their families.

Air Force Aid Society — The Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) works to support and enhance the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force missions by providing emergency financial assistance, educational support, and community programs to Air Force and Space Force families.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Unmet Needs Financial Grant — VFW Unmet Needs Financial Grant helps America's military families who have run into unexpected financial difficulties as a result of deployment or other military-related activity or injury. The VFW program provides financial aid grants of up to $1,500 to assist with basic life needs in the form of a grant - not a loan - so no repayment is required. 

American Legion National Emergency Fund (NEF) — The American Legion NEF provides up to $3,000 for qualified Legion Family members and up to $10,000 for posts. Since the early 1920s, The American Legion has been actively involved in meeting the needs of both the community and individual Legion Family members in the wake of disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires. By providing this emergency funding, NEF has prevented damaged posts from closing and enabled American Legion Family members to recover from tragedy. 

The Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA) — Founded in 1959, AMBA is a not-for-profit association of banks operating on military installations, banks not located on military installations but serving military customers, and military banking facilities designated by the U.S. Treasury. The association’s membership includes both community banks and large multinational financial institutions, all of which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Armed Forces Financial Guide — Now all in one place, this guide provides key information on important financial issues like qualifying for and accessing service member and military family benefits, reading your LES, everyday finances, planning for the future and much more. Created in collaboration with DCUC and AMBA, the guide was developed with the input of seasoned military leaders with education and experience in military personal finance.

U.S. Flag flying on Veteran HomeVA Home Loans —  VA offers these three main types of guaranteed home loan benefits:

  • Purchase Loans
  • Cash-Out Refinance Loans
  • Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans

VA home loan programs may be used to obtain homes, condominiums, or manufactured homes; refinance an existing home loan; or install energy-saving improvements. VA’s Native American Direct Loan (NADL) provides loans for purchase, construction, or home improvement on federal Trust Land. Veterans who are not Native American, but who are married to Native American non-Veterans, may be eligible for a direct loan under this program.

VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) — If you have an existing VA-backed home loan and you want to reduce your monthly mortgage payments an IRRRL may be right for you. The VA IRRRL can be used to refinance an existing VA loan to lower the interest rate. Refinancing lets you replace your current loan with a new one under different terms. VA encourages you to contact multiple lenders to determine the best loan option to fit your needs.

VA Home Loan Temporary Financial Hardship — If a VA-guaranteed loan becomes delinquent, VA works with the borrower to avoid foreclosure, including providing financial counseling and, in some cases, direct intervention with a mortgage loan servicer on the borrower’s behalf. If you are a Veteran or Servicemember having difficulty making mortgage payments, call 1-877-827-3702 to speak with a VA Loan Technician. Visit our help to avoid foreclosure webpage for more information about avoiding foreclosure.

State Department of Veterans Affairs located in VA's VISN 20 region provide Veterans assistance including, but not limited to, mortgage financing, emergency financial assistance, and property tax relief:

Man in — The only official site explicitly directed by Federal law to provide free online credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. — The official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to Opt-In or Opt-Out of firm offers of credit or insurance.

Helping a Hero — Helping a Hero provides specially adapted homes for qualifying service members through partnerships made with the builders, developers, communities, and the veteran. Ordinarily, homes are built in master-planned communities where the developer donates the lot and the builder builds at cost.

Semper Fi & America’s Fund — The Fund can help critically wounded, ill, and injured service members, veterans, and military families with an array of modifications to improve accessibility and mobility throughout their home. Many of our service members, veterans, and military families assisted by Semper Fi & America’s Fund require essential, but expensive, home modifications to improve accessibility. Whether it’s wheelchair ramps, widening doorways, or modifying showers and bathrooms, The Fund ensures that homes are tailored to comfortably accommodate their needs. We ensure that those we serve have a safe place to call ‘home’ by granting assistance for urgently needed rent, mortgage, and utility payments, as well as non-adaptive home.​

Gary Sinise Foundation Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment (R.I.S.E.) — The Gary Sinise Foundation serves our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. Core programs include R.I.S.E. which provides homes and/or home modifications for severely wounded veterans; Relieve & Resiliency which supports families facing hardships before, during or after serving; First Responders Outreach which supports firefighters, police and EMTs who sacrifice daily to ensure our safety, with funding, equipment, PPE and training.

HouseDisability Grants for Veterans — VA provides housing, automobile, and clothing grants for Veterans and service members with certain service-connected disabilities. VA provides a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to assist with the cost of building, buying, adapting existing homes or paying to reduce indebtedness on a currently owned home that is being adapted, up to a maximum benefit amount. VA's SAH grant provides up to $117,014. VA may approve a Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant to assist with the cost of adapting or purchasing a home to live more independently. VA's SHA grant provides up to $23,444Home Improvements and Structural Alterations: VA provides up to $6,800 in lifetime benefits for service-connected Veterans and up to $2,000 in lifetime benefits for nonservice-connected Veterans to make home improvements and/or structural changes necessary for the continuation of treatment or for disability access to the Veterans home and essential lavatory and sanitary facilities. VA's Automobile Allowance and Adaptive Equipment grant changes a vehicle so it has features like power steering, brakes, seats, windows, or lift equipment to help you get into and out of the vehicle. If you have a service-connected disability that prevents you from driving, VA's automobile allowance special benefit grant provides up to $25,603.02 toward a specially equipped vehicle for you. Additionally, VA provides Veterans with a clothing allowance to replace clothes damaged by a medicine or prosthetic or orthopedic device related to your service-connected disability. This allowance is also available to any Veteran whose service-connected skin condition requires prescribed skin medication that irreparably damages their outer garments. If a skin medicine, prosthetic, or orthopedic device related to your service-connected disability damages your clothes, VA's clothing allowance special benefit grant provides $999.51 to replace the damaged clothes. This may be a one-time payment or we may pay this amount once a year.

Money being stretched thinLifeline Support — Opportunities and security of phone service includes being able to connect to jobs, family, and emergency services. Consumers may be eligible for the Lifeline program if they participate in a qualifying program including VA Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit. You may qualify for Lifeline, a government program that offers eligible consumers up to $9.25 off the cost of phone, internet, or bundled services (up to $34.25 if you live on qualifying Tribal lands). Tribal lands include any federally recognized Indian tribe’s reservation, pueblo, or colony, including former reservations in Oklahoma, Alaska Native regions, Hawaiian Home Lands, or Indian Allotments. You can get Lifeline if you (or someone in your household) participate in one of these programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

You can get Lifeline if your child or dependent participates in any of the programs listed above. You are only allowed to get one Lifeline benefit per household, not per person. If you qualify, your household can get one Lifeline benefit for phone or internet service, but not both. Lifeline is a federal benefit that lowers the monthly cost of phone or internet service. Your household cannot get Lifeline from more than one company. Ask your selected phone or internet company for assistance submitting your application. You may be able to apply though the company’s website, if they make that option available.

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Use of these Materials and Finding VA Health Care

Please note that the information provided in these materials is for educational purposes only. It does not replace the role of a financial advisor for advice on savings and investments. Investing in your future means saving for retirement, college or a rainy day fund. If you're working with an investment professional, or someone is trying to sell you an investment, check them out before handing over your hard-earned money. As a Veteran, you have access to information about legal services and financial guidance from reliable sources including, but not limited to; VA, Vet Centers, and accredited Veterans Service Organizations. If you are looking for professional medical care, find your local VA healthcare center by using the VA Facilities Locator & Directory. This page may contain links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

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NW MIRECCThe Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest integrated health care network in the United States, with 1,255 health care facilities serving 9 million enrolled Veterans each year. There are 18 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) in VHA operating as regional systems of care to better meet local health care needs and provides greater access to care. Spanning 23% of the US land mass, VISN 20 is the largest geographic region of VA. In the Pacific Northwest, VISN 20 serves Veterans in 135 counties in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Operating across three time zones over 817,417 square miles, VISN 20 is home to 273 federally recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes. VISN 20 also serves Veterans in Del Norte and Siskiyou counties of California and Lincoln County Montana.

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Veterans may be eligible to receive care from a community provider when VA cannot provide the care needed. Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP) provides health care for Veterans from providers in the local community. VCCP includes General Community Care, Urgent Care, Emergency Care, Foreign Medical Care, Home Health and Hospice Care, Indian and Tribal Health Services, In Vitro Fertilization, State Veterans Home, and Flu Shots.

VA Regional Offices

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) helps service members transition out of military service, and assists with Veterans with education, home loans, life insurance and much more. Service members, Veterans, their families, and Survivors are invited to request information on VA Benefits including disability compensation, pension, fiduciary, education, Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E), Home Loans, and Insurance. In addition to information on VA Benefits Veterans may initiate an intent to file and request assistance with filing compensation and pension claims. Visit regional office websites to learn about the services the regional office provides, directions to the facility, hours of operation, and the leadership team that serves the regional office.

Find out if you can get VA health care as a Veteran

The following four categories of Veterans are not required to enroll but are urged to do so to permit better planning of health resources:

  1. Veterans with a service-connected (SC) disability rated at 50% or more.
  2. Veterans seeking care for a disability the military determined was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, but which VA has not yet rated, within 12 months of discharge.
  3. Veterans seeking care for a SC disability only or under a special treatment authority.
  4. Veterans seeking registry examinations (ionizing radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War/Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) depleted uranium, airborne hazards, and Open Burn Pit Registry).

Find out how to apply for VA health care benefits as a Veteran or service member. For other mental health services, contact a VA medical center for information on eligibility and treatment options.

Vet Centers in VISN 20

VA Vet Center LogoVet Centers in the VISN 20 Health Care Network are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active-duty Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families. 1-877-WAR-VETS is an around the clock confidential call center where Veterans, service members and their families can talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in transitioning after military service or trauma and get connected to their nearest Vet Center.

Anchorage Vet Center (Anchorage, AK)
Bellingham Vet Center (Bellingham, WA)
Boise Vet Center (Boise, ID)
Central Oregon Vet Center (Bend, OR)
Eugene Vet Center (Eugene, OR)
Everett Vet Center (Everett, WA)
Fairbanks Vet Center (Fairbanks, AK)
Federal Way Vet Center (Federal Way, WA)
Grants Pass Vet Center (Grants Pass, OR)
Kenai Vet Center Outstation (Soldotna, AK)
Lacey Vet Center Outstation (Lacey, WA)
Portland, OR Vet Center (Portland, OR)
Salem Vet Center (Salem, OR)
Seattle Vet Center (Seattle, WA)
Spokane Vet Center (Spokane, WA)
Tacoma Vet Center (Tacoma, WA)
Walla Walla Vet Center (Walla Walla, WA)
Wasilla Vet Center (Wasilla, AK)
Yakima Valley Vet Center (Yakima, WA)

Plan your trip to VA

Veterans Canteen Service (VCS)In 1946, Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) was established by law to provide comfort and well-being to America’s Veterans. With our many retail stores, cafés and coffee shops across the country, we serve those who have served our country. We are a self-sustaining entity providing merchandise and services to Veterans enrolled in VA’s healthcare system, their families, caregivers, VA employees, volunteers and visitors. We are honored to give back to the VA community through many programs established for the health and well-being of our nation’s heroes. Revenues generated from VCS are used to support a variety of programs, such as VA’s Rehabilitation Games, Fisher Houses, Poly-Trauma Centers for OIF/OEF/OND Veterans, disaster relief efforts, Substance Abuse Cessation, VA’s Homelessness initiatives, Women Veterans, Veteran Suicide Prevention and other activities.

VCS operates over 200 Patriot Stores in Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Centers nationwide. Many of our stores have been recently updated and expanded to provide our customers with a modern, clean and comfortable shopping experience. Our stores welcome our customers with wider aisles, wood-like floors, enhanced lighting and directional signage. PatriotStores have expanded hours of operation to provide service for customers on weekends at most locations.

The Patriot Cafe is the best place in the VA Medical Center to enjoy delicious, freshly prepared breakfast or lunch served hot or cold each weekday. Providing Veterans, their families, VA employees, volunteers and visitors a place to relax and enjoy a meal or take-out for their convenience. With a wide variety of food from traditional comfort food, specialized menu selections and a large assortment of healthy choices; there is something for everyone's taste buds.

Hospital Service Directory

To find out whether there is a van near you use the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Hospital Service Coordinator Directory to contact your nearest HSC for information or assistance. Please remember that the DAV Transportation Network is staffed by volunteers; therefore, it is unable to cover every community.

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