By Staff Sgt. Laura Fitzmorris, 302nd Airlift Wing
/ Published February 02, 2021
The ongoing pandemic provides an opportunity for Airmen to resituate their financial lives, create actionable financial goals and offer options to grow wealth, said Kristy Tubbs, a financial coach with Piece of Heart Financial Counseling, during a virtual Yellow Ribbon event Dec. 18-19.
Tubbs, a military spouse of 32 years who has experienced multiple deployments, government shutdowns, recalls back to active duty and losses of outside income, said money tends to be the number one stressor for military members.
“If we can take away the fear about money or the lack of money and provide hope for a better tomorrow, the service member can leave on deployment knowing there is a plan in place to remove the stress and they will be able to perform the mission without concern for what is happening back on the home front,” Tubbs said.
The pandemic has created more financial hardship for Airmen as they face unexpected life situations, such as lost jobs, ease of access to online shopping and boredom during lockdown situations, she said.
“What we are finding is that more than 80 percent of those seeking our help has been due to extreme credit card debt that was created during the pandemic shut down,” said Tubbs. “On the other hand, there have been clients reaching out because they used the time to resituate their financial lives. Creating budgets, they were able to not only sustain through this difficult time, but they worked with us to negotiate their debts off and now have a nice savings account.”
With finances being a personal issue for many, confidentiality is key to the success of Tubbs’ program and is her teams’ number one priority.
“Fear of being ‘found out’ is the number one reason our service members end up getting into such deep financial troubles. They have the ability to defend our nation, after all, so they feel they must be able to get themselves out of this financial conundrum that they’re in,” she said. “The result to this thinking, however, often times leaves the service member seeking help when they are in dire straits instead of at a time when we can turn things around for them.”
Tubbs said there are many programs available to help Airmen with financial troubles, especially around deployments. A few of the resources include the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act benefits, the Savings Deposit Program and no-interest student loan benefits for members serving in hostile areas.
Airmen struggling with financial concerns are encouraged to reach out to the Air Force Aid Society, their Airman and Family Readiness office, their local leadership and their First Sergeant’s Council for assistance.