Pathways to Opportunity: What Transitioning Service Members Need to Know About their Finances

A new report released by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and USAA shares insights for financial success before, during and after military life.

SYRACUSE, N.Y., (Dec. 14, 2016) — Today, approximately half of all U.S. veterans are active participants in the civilian labor force and another 1 million service members will join the labor force as they transition to civilian life by 2020. One aspect of leaving military life is being financially prepared to make the move to the civilian workforce. Pathways to Opportunity: Financial Flexibility and Workforce Readiness, the fourth publication from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and USAA Workforce Readiness Series, explores key factors supporting military financial readiness and presents tips on how service members can gain control over their finances before transition, improve their financial situation while in the military and reduce the risk of financial hardship when they enter into civilian life. It also calls for a push to incorporate financial readiness programs into the active duty service member’s life well before the transition process begins.

“The one certainty of military service is that it will come to an end. The earlier financial preparations begin, the smoother the transition to the civilian world,” says JJ Montanaro, Certified Financial Planner and member of USAA’s Military Affairs Advocacy group.

Being financially ready means having a basic understanding of how money works, including how to manage the money you earn. Ensuring active service members are financially ready, gives them the resources and opportunities to be successful and to make sound economic choices about their life prior to transition from the military, during transition and post-service. However, for the transitioning service member, financial readiness is often an overlooked component of a successful transition. Without a basic understanding of how money works, service members may face economic hardships when they enter civilian life which leaves them with fewer choices to maintain or advance their economic situation.

“When service members transition, the goal is to maximize their range of options after the military. Preparing their finances in advance helps them achieve their personal goals.  For example, we know that employment is one of the biggest choices veterans must make after leaving the military and we want them to be in the position to take the best job rather than the first job they are offered,” says Deborah Bradbard, Senior Research Associate at the IVMF.

Providing financial readiness skills to the military community enables economic empowerment vital to financial success. Doing so while service members are still serving, further increases the likelihood of a successful transition into civilian work life. By working together, public, private, and nonprofit sectors can help spread the message that meaningful employment, combined with financial preparation, sets up transitioning service members and their families for financial success.

Papers in the Workforce Readiness series include:

Paper one, Work After Service: Developing Workforce Readiness and Veteran Talent for the Future, marks the first in a series of short papers that will cover several veteran workforce readiness topics to include career preferences, financial readiness, job matching and employer perspectives on retention and workplace performance.

Paper two, Revisiting the Business Case for Hiring a Veteran, responds to a recent focus and debate on measuring companies’ return on investment for their veteran hiring programs and emphasizes how employers can turn veteran talent into a competitive advantage in talent acquisition and talent deployment and development.

Paper three, Workforce Readiness Alignment: The Relationship Between Job Preferences, Retention, and Earnings, addresses the complex and interrelated relationship between veteran job preferences, skills-matching and performance and positive career outcomes such as retention and earnings.

Paper four, Pathways to Opportunity: Financial Flexibility and Workforce Readiness, highlights concepts, key factors, and unique circumstances related to financial flexibility and workforce readiness and shares insights for financial success before, during, and after military life. Read the executive summary and the final report.

The Workforce Readiness Research Series along with information about the IVMF at Syracuse University is found at IVMF.


Media Contact
Linda R. Euto, Ph.D.
IVMF Associate Director of Research and Evaluation
315.443.2937 or for more information or to schedule an interview with the paper’s authors.

About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University
The Institute for Veterans and Military Families is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. The Institute is supported by a world-class advisory board and public and private partners committed to advancing the post-service lives of America’s service members, veterans and their families. The IVMF and its professional staff deliver class-leading programs in career, vocational and entrepreneurship education and training. The IVMF also conducts actionable research, provides policy analysis and program evaluations; coordinates comprehensive strategies; and works with communities and non-profits to enhance service. For more information about IVMF, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or IVMF.

About USAA
The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to 11.8 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of Honorable – and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or visit USAA.

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