Why is it that I always plan to pay my bills and never end up with any money left over and usually don’t even have enough to pay what I owe?

Most of us have asked that question all our lives, yet there seems to be a majority of veterans that are never quite able to make those ends meet. Several reasons for this pop to mind, and one is: when we are in the service, the money we earn is pretty much available for any enjoyment we want to pursue because all our necessities we don’t pay for! So we start forming a habit of not saving for a rainy day and thus live paycheck to paycheck. Of course the military is not in the business of helping us plan on being prudent with our money, nor are they concerned about preparing us to think about all the stuff we need to pay for when we leave the military. As a result, this country has an abundance of not only homeless vets (and for other reasons too) but veterans that are so far in debt that they cannot even pay the interest (and that is usually high double digit interest) on the loans they have entered into and promised to pay. There are so many easy money loan businesses, that even some states outlaw them doing business. There are also many non-profit organizations that offer no-charge financial counseling and financial education. Most of those do not have brick and mortar offices in our area and thus are online services.

We do however, have here in our region, several financial institutions that offer free education on financial management, how to make a budget, how to improve your credit score, and overall long term financial planning. So you might want to ask the folks where you do your banking, if they offer any education on financial planning.

The following listed here I personally know they do offer free education on how to work with your financial matters: Malheur Federal Credit Union, has available online a free Financial Education resource and Credit Score Builder. They are easy to navigate online or you can call Ms. Vonnie Paul at MFCU at (541) 823-4494. Columbia Bank also has free financial education services called Financial Beginnings. You can call Columbia Bank at (541) 889-8606 and ask to speak to one of the ladies that are knowledgeable on the Financial Beginnings program, or call Financial Beginnings direct at 1(800) 406-1876. Also, our local Community In Action on SW 3rd Ave across from Lions Park, offers a Financial Literacy program for Individual Development Accounts which include pre and post purchase, energy assistance, and is flexible in cost depending on your financial health. Their phone contact is (541) 889-9555.

And by the way, the VA’s Veterans Choice Program (VCP) will help you resolve adverse credit reporting and debt collection issues as a result of using the VCP. Other obligations you have outside of the VCP services do not qualify for assistance. The VA Adverse Credit Helpline is (877) 881-7618. For comprehensive information on the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) you can log onto the following site: http://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/veterans/index.asp

If you are a Veteran who has not yet applied for VA Healthcare Benefits, you can apply online at the following site: http://www.va.gov/health-care/apply/application/introduction

Or you can contact your local Veteran Service Officer (VSO) in Malheur County, Mr. Connie Tanaka, 316 Goodfellow, Ontario, OR 97914, phone (541) 889-6649.

In Idaho, Payette County Veteran Service Officer, Marcia Morgensen, 1130 3rd Ave N, Room 106, Payette County Courthouse, Payette, ID 83661, phone (208) 642-6010.

Interesting to note that on this day in 1948, the US Congress passed a law that permanently established the Civil Air Patrol as an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. I found this of interest because as a youngster I was a member of the CAP in New Jersey. Two men who received their early training in the Civil Air Patrol were George Boyd and Wallace Higgins, who later were members of the Tuskegee Airmen.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin, 1706 to 1790, Inventor, Statesman, Author, Scientist, Humanitarian and wise man.

Ronald Verini is a local veterans advocate who writes a weekly column for The Argus Observer. He can be contacted at (541) 889-1978, help@veteranadvocates.org or 180 W. Idaho Ave., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.

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