ARLINGTON, Va. - The Department of Defense's annual Military Saves campaign kicked off at the Army National Guard Readiness Center here and featured speakers, informational booths and other visitors as a way to raise greater awareness about financial planning and remaining debt free.
"It is a way that we can help servicemembers and their families and bring awareness to financial issues," said Jennifer Armstrong, a personal financial manager at the National Guard Bureau who was instrumental in planning the kick-off event.
The month of February has been designated Military Saves Month and various activities are scheduled to take place throughout the services as a way to encourage saving money and strengthening good financial habits.
"It just so happens that the National Guard is kicking it off for all the sister services," said Armstrong. "This goes on through the entire month of February."
The Military Saves campaign is part of the larger America Saves campaign, which focuses on encouraging ways Americans can save and plan for solid personal finances.
During the event, service members were able to speak with a variety of financial planning advisors and other groups that focus on saving money. Many learned that even making small changes in their personal finances could have lasting long-term effects. And that's one of the larger goals of the campaign.
"Last year we had this same event and we were able save at least five individuals from losing their homes," said Armstrong. "So if we can save somebody's home or bring awareness to financial issues we've done our job."
For those in attendance, the event provided a one-stop location to pick up additional ways to save money or changes they could make in their personal financial plans and habits.
"It's incredibly important to save, but there's a lot of things here today that not too many service members are aware of," said Army Sgt. Joel Giesting, with the operations section at the Army National Guard Readiness Center.
For Giesting, who said he has family members with financial planning backgrounds, he learned early on the importance of saving money and said he regularly makes contributions to his saving account and has made other, more long term financial readiness plans.
But, still, he said the event was beneficial.
"Myself, being on the low side of the enlisted (ranks), just coming down here and seeing what resources are available, it's incredible," he said.
And that's the goal of the event.
"I've always felt a need to take care of people," said Armstrong. "I feel like if (we) can at least give advice or help somebody it's well worth it."