How to Save a Life: Help Veterans with Financial Planning

Journalist Ann Marsh said many of us might be confused about what superheroes actually look like.

“We love superheroes,” Marsh said during Saturday’s General Session, but unlike the spandex-clad, caped creatures of comic books and movies, “in real life they drive around in cars, get stuck in traffic jams, and look like normal people.”

They’re veterans, and they’ve fought for our country only to come home and face multiple problems such as financial strife, which is one of the leading reasons veterans commit suicide.

Marsh said there is a suicide epidemic going on among veterans. The numbers are “staggering,” Marsh said, and she has shed some light on this topic with her extensive reporting.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Dick Power, who is also a financial planner, said it was previously thought that this epidemic was linked to the high number of deployments service men and women faced after September 11, but then got to wondering whether it could be about financial hardship.

Though service men and women in various branches of the military have access to military financial planning professionals, Marsh said, policies dictate that they provide financial education only, versus financial planning advice.

Marsh would like to see more academic research focusing on the link between financial hardship and suicide among veterans, which is why she was happy to know Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) revived the bipartisan effort to study this very subject.

“The epidemic of suicides among our veterans is measureable in very grim numbers,” Holt said in a news release. “Before this day is out, if it is like every other day, 18 more veterans will have taken their own lives. Congress has begun to take this crisis seriously over the past few years, but we must continue providing the funding and support necessary to help keep our soldiers and veterans alive.”

The good news, Marsh said, is financial planning professionals can step up and help by providing free financial planning services to veterans in need. Recently the Financial Planning Association and Foundation for Financial Planning forged a partnership to help address this issue and encourage members to lobby Congress to pass the measure.

But if that isn’t doable, there are a few other things professionals can do to help:

  1. Call the Foundation for Financial Planning to see what you can do
  2. Call your senators and urge them to pass the funding for a military suicide prevention study
  3. Think creatively about how to address the issue

“Suicide is a preventable mental health problem,” Marsh said. “You are part of the community that can make a difference.”

Join in the Peer-to Peer Conversation Sunday morning about this topic.

What: Peer-to-Peer Conversations: Military Suicides and How Financial Planning Can Help
When: 8:45 a.m., Sunday September 21, 2014
Presented by: Ann Marsh
Where: Community Building Rooms, 615-617


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