Post-holiday financial help is out there

by Kim Suchek
Stripes Korea

Hello military community,

In the wake of the holidays, many families acquire more debt. I am sure many of you can relate to the using credit cards to purchase gifts, hoping to use your tax returns to pay off that debt, which never happens because they go toward other debts or emergencies (I know I can).

In this economy it can be very hard to budget. For military families who live overseas and PCS frequently it can be even more frustrating. But for a family with a special needs dependent, trying to stay on budget while being proactive can be a hardship.

Costs associated with special equipment, health services, purchases of supplies and equipment not covered by benefits as well as routine costs such as gas, special food, special teachers, doctors and much more can be overwhelming. Even with the benefits that are available to assist with care and costs, life has a way of interfering with even our best-laid plans.

If you have a family member with special needs, you can receive financial assistance from a variety of sources. Here are a few:

Installation Personal Financial Management Program:
This is available through each service branch to help military members control their finances and successfully plan for their futures. The program provides classes, one-on-one counseling sessions and additional information designed to educate service members and their families about consumer rights and to help them achieve financial stability.

TRICARE Debt Collection Assistance Officers (DCAO):
According to, these officers are located at military treatment facilities and TRICARE regional offices to assist in resolving health care collection-related issues. Contact a DCAO if you have received a negative credit rating or are dealing with a collection agency due to an issue related to TRICARE services.

Military Aid Societies:
These are private, non-profit organizations that support each of the services. They provide emergency financial assistance in the form of interest-free loans and grants to active and retired service members and their families. These include, but are not limited to, Army Emergency Relief, Navy-Marine Corps relief society, Air Force Society and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance.

Social Security Administration:
This resource may provide disability and Supplemental Security benefits. Use its Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool to answer specific questions. The tool will list benefits you might qualify for and provide more information about how and where to apply.

Military OneSource:  This resource offers a wide variety of assistance from educational to financial to health related and much more at no cost. To contact Military OneSource by phone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call 800-342-9647.

If you would like further information regarding non-profits to help facilitate assistance for your family feel free to email me. Best wishes for the holiday season and the New Year.

Blessings from my family to yours,
Kim Suchek

If you have any questions or concerns or would like to share a story or situation, contact me at and visit my website at for updated information and other resources not listed in my book.

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