NEW YORK--(Citi joined with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), and the Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN) to announce the launch of CredAbility ReConnect, a free online financial education and counseling program specifically designed to help these communities resolve financial difficulties and build economic security. The program, supported by a grant from Citi Community Development, was developed by CredAbility, a national nonprofit credit counseling organization, in collaboration with each of these established veterans’ service organizations.)--Military service members, veterans, and their families and survivors need unique guidance and support to maintain their long-term financial health. Today,
“A serious need exists for a targeted set of financial assistance services like CredAbility ReConnect”
Recent data shows that members of the armed forces, veterans and their families face particular financial difficulties. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who have served on active duty since September 2001 was 12.1 percent in 2011, compared to the national unemployment rate of 8.9 percent that same year. According to Debt.org, more than 25 percent of military families that have credit card debt carry a balance of more than $10,000, and a third of military families report they have trouble paying monthly bills. Also, 2011 data from CredAbility of veterans who went through credit counseling shows that veterans ages 29 or younger have average monthly expenses that exceed their net income by $880 as well as average credit card debt of $7,234.
CredAbility ReConnect addresses these financial challenges with a set of online tools, education and counseling. Individuals and families served by IAVA, TAPS, and MSCCN will be able to access custom versions of the online program, free of charge, tailored to the unique needs of the veterans, families and survivors they serve. Members of the armed forces, veterans and their families not affiliated with these organizations can access CredAbility ReConnect at www.CredAbility.org/recon.
CredAbility ReConnect covers:
- The Financial Impact of Deployment – Online courses to help military families deal with the financial implications of a deployment, including how to manage money while a spouse is overseas.
- Easing the Transition – Online courses, such as “Understanding Your Military Benefits” and “Reconnecting Financially,” help ease the financial transition for those who have recently left the armed forces or experienced the death of a servicemember.
- Budget and Credit Counseling - Personalized financial “check-ups” help users manage their money better and prioritize spending through easy-to-follow plans. Online courses help with wise use of credit, debt reduction strategies, and setting goals for a healthier financial future.
- Debt Management Plans – Custom affordable repayment plans, often with reduced interest rates, fees and penalties for qualified individuals, help visitors pay down debt, negotiate with creditors and regain their financial footing.
- Foreclosure Prevention and Home Buying Guidance - HUD-certified counselors provide guidance to individuals who are behind on their mortgage payments or face foreclosure, as well as to prospective homebuyers.
Free one-on-one credit counseling with a CredAbility certified counselor is also available by telephone at 888-808-7285.
“A serious need exists for a targeted set of financial assistance services like CredAbility ReConnect,” said Mechel Glass, Vice President of Community Outreach for CredAbility and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. “Young veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan might want to create a plan to make regular deposits to an emergency savings account and pay down debt. And active duty servicemembers might want to create a financial support plan for spouses and children during times of deployment or transfer, or in the event of a loss that leaves them financially vulnerable. CredAbility ReConnect will provide the education and counseling to show them how to accomplish these personal finance goals.”
“Every member of the armed forces has sacrificed a great deal in service to their country, and in addition to the challenges of military service, many face tremendous financial pressures as well,” said Suni Harford, Citi’s Regional Head of Markets for North America. “These brave men and women receive extensive military training, but far too few of them receive any kind of formal financial education. CredAbility ReConnect was developed to help these deserving men and women build financial capability and achieve long-term economic security for themselves and their families.”
Citi is an established leader in the national effort to support veterans and active-duty servicemembers, including those in the Guard and Reserve, and CredAbility ReConnect is the latest initiative in a coordinated, firm-wide effort in this area. In May, Citi launched Citi Salutes, a one-stop resource that consolidates all of Citi’s programs, products and partnerships that support the greater veterans community. Later this month, Citi will be helping to lead the second annual Veterans on Wall Street conference and job fair in New York, an initiative co-founded by Citi to develop career opportunities in the financial services industry for veterans.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
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About Citi Community Development
Citi Community Development (CCD) is leading Citi’s commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships. Our focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit www.citigroup.com/community.
CredAbility is one of the leading nonprofit credit counseling and education agencies in the United States, serving clients in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, in both English and Spanish. In addition, the organization provides in-person counseling through its branch network of more than 25 offices located across the southeast.
Founded in 1964, CredAbility is a family of Consumer Credit Counseling Service agencies that includes CCCS of Greater Atlanta, CCCS of Central Florida and the Florida Gulf Coast, CCCS of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, CCCS of East Tennessee, CCCS of Central Mississippi and CCCS of Upstate South Carolina. The nonprofit agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Governed by a community-based board of directors, CredAbility is funded by creditors, clients, individual donors and grants from foundations, businesses and government agencies. Service is provided 24/7 by phone at 800.251.2227 and online at www.CredAbility.org.
About Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the lives of our newest veterans and their families. Through innovative health, education, employment and community programs, IAVA strives to build an empowered generation of veterans who provide sustainable leadership for our country and their local communities. Learn more, get involved and join IAVA’s over 200,000 Member Veterans and Civilian Supporters. For more information, visit http://iava.org/.
About Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
TAPS provides immediate and long-term emotional help, hope, and healing to all who are grieving the death of a loved one in military service to America. TAPS meets its mission by providing peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, camps for children, seminars for adults, casualty casework assistance, a 24/7 resource and information helpline, and connections to community-based care. For more information, visit http://www.taps.org/.
About Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN)
Corporate America Supports You (CASY) and the Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN) were chartered in 2004 as private sector non-profit organizations that provide no-cost employment readiness, vocational training, and one-on-one job placement services for National Guard, Reserves, transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, homeless female veterans, war wounded and caregivers of war wounded.
CASY-MSCCN operates as an employment partner to all branches of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Coast Guard, through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). In addition, without funding and through its partnership with Kenexa and DirectEmployers Association, CASY-MSCCN created and maintains the National Guard Employment program, which provides training and job placement to returning National Guard personnel and their families. Each of these high-touch programs is supported by solid partnerships with major corporations, mid-size companies and small businesses that provide employment opportunities for our military-affiliated job seekers. Our state-of-the-art technology, built by Kenexa, provides real-time, verifiable tracking numbers and outcome reports to our employment partners, military services, and donors. For more information, visit http://www.msccn.org/.