As a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana, I can’t help but notice that, all too often, serving our country can lead to a fight for one’s financial life back at home. In Pentagon Sees Risk In Soldiers’ Debts, I talked about a Pentagon report on the severe debt loads that actually prevent many soldiers from obtaining their security clearance to go overseas. In a later blog, I shared word of the Moneywise education program funded by the Foundation for Financial Planning especially for soldiers (see Moneywise Program Reaches Out To Military). My work as a Board-certified consumer bankruptcy specialist, dealing with thousands of people each year, including some veterans, has convinced me how crucial it is for soldiers and guardsmen to avoid the traps of payday loans and car title loans that have gotten so many military families into spiraling debt.
I was very happy to find out about programs that our own Lilly Endowment here in Indianapolis put into place just a year ago to help returning Indiana veterans. Several aspects of those program are especially relevant to my work as a financial counselor to debtors. First, grants of up to $10,000 are available to Indiana National Guard families who “have suffered significant financial hardship as a result of active duty service.” Job retraining for veterans is offered through Crane Learning and Employment Center for Veterans in southwest Indiana, and a multi-million dollar grant was made to the Roudebush VA Medical Center to help pay for sophisticated medical and rehabilitation treatment for veterans. In addition to these benefits through the Lilly Endowment, the State of Indiana offers veterans’ housing programs, property tax deductions, education and job placement benefits.
Handling medical costs, finding well-paid employment, finding good housing, and managing debt repayment – these are issues for all individuals. All of these play a role in the rebuilding process after bankruptcy, and, when these needs are not satisfied, all are leading causes of bankruptcy. Veterans often need – and deserve – extra assistance getting back on their financial feet. I’m proud of the efforts being made in the state of Indiana to provide this special help to these special people who’ve served us so loyally.