By Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va. (8/05/13) - National and state initiatives can ease the pain of furlough for National Guard civilians and military technicians.
The concern starts at the top.
"I am very concerned about the hardship the furlough could have on you and your families," said Army Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau. "I am committed to the welfare of our most valuable asset - our people - and will continue to do everything in my power to provide you the support and assistance you deserve."
Many states are taking their own initiatives: The Ohio National Guard published financial tips. Ohio's employment support team works with temporary employment agencies to offer day work to furloughed employees. Leader communications and town hall meetings set expectations and encouraged maximum use of existing family readiness and warrior support resources.
South Carolina also used town hall meetings to get information out and answer questions. Among other initiatives, the South Carolina National Guard's service member and family care directorate coordinated with local businesses to help furloughed personnel secure part-time positions. The state also coordinated discounts for movies, golf, bowling and water park admission so furloughed employees can spend quality time with their families on furlough days.
South Carolina works with creditors to request reductions in interest rates and payments during the furlough time period, and the state has tapped non-governmental organizations for money for those experiencing the greatest financial hardships.
On a national level, most dual-status technicians are eligible for Military OneSource financial counseling on issues such as basic budgeting, money management, debt consolidation - including coaching to help people contact their creditors and negotiate late fees, interest rates and affordable payment plans - and assistance with housing issues such as being behind on mortgage payments or facing foreclosure. Call (800) 342-9647.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can also help develop a debt-management plan. Eligibility is at no cost to National Guard members, regardless of activation status, and families located in the continental United States. Call (800) 342-9647.
The National Guard Bureau's office of family programs compiled a list of resources that can provide help, including financial assistance. Each organization has specific criteria to be eligible for their specific program.
American Legion: The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance program awards cash grants to minor children of veterans eligible for American Legion membership, though membership is not required. These grants help families pay for shelter, food, utilities and health expenses.Website: http://bit.ly/1aSFoOJ. To find your local American Legion, visit their Post Locator, http://bit.ly/1aSFoOJ.
American Red Cross: Red Cross support of military members and their families includes linking families during an emergency, connecting families with local community resources, providing resilience training and supporting wounded warriors and military hospitals. Website: http://rdcrss.org/17bht9g.
Armed Forces Foundation: The Family Assistance Program awards financial assistance to service members and their families facing financial hardship through injury and other service-related situations. Website: http://bit.ly/1aSI92n.
Army Emergency Relief: Army Emergency Relief provides emergency financial assistance to active and retired Soldiers and their families. Website: http://bit.ly/13gOh2T.
Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary: Their program assists those who find they are temporarily unable to pay utility bills, mortgage payments or hospital bills. One-time financial assistance up to $1,000 is available. Must be a member for at least one year. Website: http://bit.ly/13gLdno. To find your local DAVA unit, visit http://bit.ly/11pOrUn.
EANGUS: The We Care For America Foundation established by the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States offers a National Guard Soldier and Airmen Emergency Relief Fund. Distribution amounts vary. Must be an EANGUS member. Website: http://bit.ly/13gK92Q. Emergency relief SOP and grant application: http://bit.ly/15r0VvU.
Easter Seals: Easter Seals offers military and veterans systems of care with viable options to support and augment current reintegration efforts. Community OneSource connects veterans with organizations which will meet their needs. Call (866) 423-4981 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Websites: http://bit.ly/19sHYgp and http://bit.ly/13pfkWc.
Fannie Mae: A tool at http://bit.ly/1e61j4N helps you quickly determine if Fannie Mae owns your loan. If Fannie Mae does, you may be eligible for programs to make your mortgage more affordable. A housing counselor can help you decide what mortgage options are best for you, whether you are concerned about falling behind on your mortgage or are preparing to buy a home. Website:http://bit.ly/15Zrvv0.Goodwill: Job assistance specialists work with you to understand your prior experience as well as your job and career goals. You can meet with a specialist face-to-face at a Goodwill or visit the virtual community online - GoodProspects at http://bit.ly/12XK2FO. They also can connect you with other community resources, such as childcare, reliable transportation, counseling and financial planning. Website: http://bit.ly/17ORdU7.
Homeowner's HOPE Hotline: If you think you may be in danger of foreclosure, call the Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline at 888-995-HOPE, a counseling service provided by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. Since 2002, the HPF network of counselors has provided advice and education to more than 500,000 homeowners. Website: http://bit.ly/qiNXk
National Foundation for Credit Counseling: The NFCC Member Agency Network includes more than 700 community-based offices in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. NFCC Member Agencies provide financial counseling and education to millions of consumers each year in person, over the phone, or online. To find a local NFCC Member Agency call (800) 388-2227. Website: http://bit.ly/18IMGDM.
Operation Homefront: Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.Eligibility: DEERS dependents of service members who are active duty, wounded/ill/injured or deployed and experiencing a financial hardship. Website: http://bit.ly/14dFodd.
Salvation Army: Family service programs help families and needy individuals with emergency food, housing, utility assistance and other needs. Programs vary with local needs. For information on specific programs and locations, contact your local Salvation Army Corps Community Center by doing a zip code search on their website: http://bit.ly/14dFy4k.
SNAP: SNAP offers nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families. Website: http://1.usa.gov/15Zrpng.
TSP: The TSP Loan program allows you to borrow money from your account while you are employed by the federal government or a member of the uniformed services. Website:http://1.usa.gov/1cgG1Dg.
USAA: The USAA Educational Foundation provides consumer information to the general public. Publications are free. Website: http://bit.ly/1cgG5D0.
USA Cares: USA Cares provides post-9/11 military families with financial and advocacy support. Assistance includes removing financial barriers that prevent veterans from receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury; removing financial barriers that prevent veterans from securing employment; and providing emergency financial assistance to veterans and active duty service members who sustain a significant reduction in pay because of their service. Website: http://bit.ly/13rPwaW.
US Soldier Foundation: The foundation can provide grants or interest-free loans to help Soldiers and family members with unexpected events. Website: http://bit.ly/13rOITB.
Utility companies: Federal funds can help pay heating and cooling bills. To determine eligibility, get an application for assistance or receive more information, contact your utility company.
VFW: The VFW can help with expenses related to food and incidentals, housing, vehicle, utilities and primary phone; children's clothing, diapers, formula, necessary school or childcare expenses; and medical bills, prescriptions and eyeglasses. Must be a VFW member for one year. Applicant must be the service member or eligible dependent listed under DEERS. Website: http://bit.ly/1aSIPov.
WIC: WIC provides supplemental foods, healthcare referrals, nutrition education and breastfeeding promotion and support to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women and to infants and children up to age 5 found to be at nutritional risk. To apply, make an appointment at your WIC local agency. A WIC Prescreening Tool can help determine eligibility: http://1.usa.gov/18MRA6b. Website: http://1.usa.gov/152r4U1.