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Financial protection for Fort Bliss soldiers starts with prevention
By: Gina Benitez
FORT BLISS, Texas -- We've heard it time and time again.
Soldiers turning to payday loan places and having to pay huge percentages in interest, often falling deeper into financial difficulty.
While Fort Bliss has assistance when things like this happen, the post has programs in place to prevent this from happening altogether.
"For our young soldiers, it is critical, because for many, this is their first job," said Ana Hernandez, Financial Readiness Program manager at Fort Bliss.
They are the men and women who serve our country and fight for our freedom. But the soldiers protecting us often need protection themselves.
"We see kind of 50 percent in crisis mode and the other 50 percent that are proactive with their finances," Hernandez said.
The Financial Readiness Program at Fort Bliss encompasses several different programs, preventative classes as well as mandatory ones.
Soldiers whose first duty station is Fort Bliss are required to take a certain class. "That one is really important because it covers a variety of information. Most important: consumer awareness," Hernandez said.
The program encompasses much more, also offering emergency-relief services. "That's basically a zero interest loan for our soldiers, retirees and their dependents in a financial emergency," Hernandez said.
Money that can be used on everything from rent, to gas, to food.
A recently released survey by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said compared to their civilian counterparts, service members are actually better at making ends meet, planning ahead and have a better general knowledge of finances.
But they are more at risk when it comes to managing mortgages and other debts.
Hernandez said it all comes back to education, and the training isn't just when a soldier first comes in.
"We offer classes, preventative classes on a monthly basis, here at Army community services as well as unit trainings," Hernandez said.
She also said she hears time and time again from soldiers that they don't get paid enough.
But is it really the pay, or the fact that managing money is the main challenge?
"For a single soldier, coming into the Army with no dependents, the pay is sufficient," Hernandez said.