ATLANTA, GA – CredAbility [now ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions] today announced two important initiatives to address the needs of US service members and their families who may be struggling with credit card debt, possible foreclosure or other financial problems.
First, it has formed a dedicated military counseling unit comprised of employees who are certified credit counselors and have also served honorably in the US military. This counseling team is complemented by veteran employees in customer service and education. The CredAbility military support team provides counseling services at no charge. An appointment can be scheduled 24/7 by calling 888.417.3253.
Second, VeteransPlus, a national nonprofit veterans’ service organization, has chosen CredAbility to provide counseling and education services to its members. VeteransPlus, based in Clearwater, Fla., teaches service members, veterans and their families how to better manage their finances. VeteransPlus members may schedule an appointment with a counselor by calling 888.395.6632 or online at www.VeteransPlus.org.
Studies commissioned by the US Treasury and Department of Defense confirm rising credit card debt and use of payday loan products among military personnel. Financial problems also occur after a person leaves the military service. According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust, 11.5 percent of post-9/11 veterans were unemployed at the end of 2010, and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports that approximately one-third of the nation’s homeless population is made up of military veterans.
CredAbility decided to create a counseling and education team consisting of military veterans after recognizing that few free financial resources exist for veterans and their families, especially from organizations with professional counselors who have served honorably in the armed forces. These counselors have personal experience with unique situations that cause financial strain for military personnel and their families, before, during and after their tour of duty. Each transition – from enlistment to deployment to discharge – creates an opportunity for change in the financial needs and circumstances of service members.
“Our team of veteran counselors is uniquely qualified to help our military service men and women find solutions to their financial problems,” said Phil Baldwin, CredAbility’s chief executive officer. “Many of our country’s military service members and veterans face unique financial challenges. We believe that they will feel more confident discussing their financial concerns with a counselor who is not only an experienced, certified credit counselor, but who has also served in the military.”
“Since 2009, VeteransPlus has participated in over 300 outreach events in 28 states (plus Guam) providing financial education for active military, veterans and family members,” said John Pickens, VeteransPlus’ Executive Director. “We are honored to join forces with CredAbility to provide financial education and counseling to fortify our outreach mission and enable our heroes to enjoy the life they have fought to defend.”
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation survey released in October 2010 revealed that debt affects a number of military families. The study determined that:
Military families are in debt to credit card issuers, with over one in four respondents reporting more than $10,000 in credit card debt.
One in four service members with checking accounts reported overdrawing their accounts, which typically incurs significant fees.
More than one in five (21 percent) service members used high-cost, non-bank borrowing such as payday or auto title loans in the last five years.
Over half of enlisted personnel and junior non-commissioned officers reported that in some months, they made only the minimum payment on their credit cards.
Only 50 percent of military respondents have a “rainy day” fund for unanticipated financial emergencies.
CredAbility was founded in 1964 and is one of the largest nonprofit credit counseling organizations in the US. Between 2008 and 2010, CredAbility provided credit, housing and bankruptcy counseling to more than one million persons. The organization is based in Atlanta, but provides counseling to individuals and families in all 50 states in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.v