First Command Announces Initiative to Tackle Critical Issues Facing Servicemembers
First Command Financial Services, Inc. announced today the launch of a new initiative designed to extend awareness of and take action to address the critical life issues facing active-duty military, post-911 veterans and military spouses.
Under the mark, Squared Away™, First Command promises to assist past and present servicemembers and their families reeling from a decade of war, defense downsizings and economic turmoil through an unprecedented commitment of its time, personnel and financial resources. As the words themselves imply, the Squared Away initiative will communicate the clear and positive action that is required of corporations and individuals alike to support our men and women in uniform through the career transitions, physical and emotional struggles and financial challenges they face as a direct result of their service to our country.
“Today we are extending our 54-year commitment to serving the financial needs of military families by taking action on a considerably larger scale, one that addresses the unique and varied challenges that confront America's military families,” said Scott Spiker, First Command CEO. “In our daily work as Financial Advisors, we see firsthand how issues ranging from sequestration to the restructuring of military pay and benefits to PTSD are creating insecurity and crisis in the lives of military families. We feel duty bound to step up and give something back by supporting our heroes and their family members through this uncertain time, helping them to get all aspects of their lives squared away.”
The development of Squared Away was driven by a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research encompassing active duty and reserve military members, military spouses, existing clients and current First Command Financial Advisors—more than half of whom have served in the military. The research has revealed three key points:
- Many servicemembers and their spouses are experiencing great anxiety over the need to find employment outside the military due to reductions in force, base realignments and closings and deferred promotions;
- The military family is under assault internally as a result of the lengthy deployments and stresses inherent in the military lifestyle since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom;
- The education and counseling provided on complex military benefits while in-service, in-transition and post-service is woefully short and, therefore, the ability of servicemembers to proactively prepare for a life of financial security is unsatisfactory.
“The issues confronting our military families—future, family, finances—are tightly connected to one another,” Spiker said. “It is important that we all understand how profoundly they affect the lives of those who serve, especially in times as challenging as these. By supporting active duty military members, veterans, and their spouses with the programs and resources critical to putting their professional, personal and financial lives in order, we hope to give them the peace of mind they've earned and the feelings of security they deserve.”
Specific, hands-on activities have been selected to demonstrate First Command's commitment to the promises of Squared Away. These include the following:
- To address the career challenges of transitioning servicemembers: First Command has formed a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes initiative, which is dedicated to finding meaningful employment for 500,000 veterans and military spouses. In 2013, this partnership includes a $100,000 grant in support of Hiring Our Heroes' mission, participation in nearly 100 career fairs, the delivery of a Financial Benefits Transition Workshop through First Command's 501c-3 partner, the First Command Educational Foundation, and a commitment of its own to recruit more than 2,100 First Command Financial Advisors over the next five years.
- To support the stability and strength of military families: First Command has also partnered with Project Sanctuary, which provides therapeutic retreats enabling military families to reconnect and reintegrate into their communities. First Command has made a $100,000 donation to Project Sanctuary and will serve as the organization's exclusive financial planning partner, delivering financial education workshops and individual family financial coaching at all retreats.
- To help military families in their pursuit of financial security: First Command supports financial literacy and education through an ongoing, 30-year partnership with First Command Educational Foundation. For 2013, First Command has made a $400,000 donation to help fund in-person and online financial literacy tools for servicemembers across the globe as well as increased scholarship opportunities for servicemembers and their families. And First Command has announced a global program to make face-to-face financial coaching available to all qualified servicemembers. The company now offers complimentary financial planning services to all first-time military clients in the higher pay grades (promotable E-5 and above).
“America's military families are struggling financially,” Spiker said. “More than a quarter carries $10,000 or more in credit card debt, less than half participate in the military's Thrift Savings Plan and only one in four middle-income servicemembers feels satisfied with their personal financial situation. Many of these families want face-to-face financial coaching, but they don't seek it out because they assume it is out of their reach. We believe that offering free financial planning will help us deliver these services to more families in this time of financial and emotional uncertainty and challenge. With this decision and our new partnerships with Hiring Our Heroes and Project Sanctuary, we seek to help military members and their families get their professional, personal and financial needs squared away today, so they have the opportunity for the future they desire.”
About First Command
First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.
First Command Financial Services, Inc., is the parent of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member SIPC, FINRA), First Command Insurance Services, Inc. and First Command Bank. Financial planning services and investment products, including securities, are offered by First Command Financial Planning, Inc. Insurance products and services are offered by First Command Insurance Services, Inc. in all states except Montana, where as required by law, insurance products and services are offered by First Command Financial Services, Inc. (a separate Montana domestic corporation). Banking products and services are offered by First Command Bank. In certain states, as required by law, First Command Insurance Services, Inc. does business as a separate domestic corporation. Securities products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee and may lose value. A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met. First Command Financial Services, Inc. and its related entities are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. government, the U.S. armed forces, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or Project Sanctuary.