Navigating Through the Red Tape: Disabled Veterans and Financial Wellness

Easterseals Veteran Services. Photos of military members in fatigues with their families

Earlier this month, Easterseals visited Washington D.C. to meet with representatives and share ways to break down barriers for our communities. We also had important conversations about supporting veterans and military families. We owe so much to our veterans and yet, according to our recent study about disabled veterans and employment, only about 1/3 of disabled veterans have enough money to handle their own emergency expenses. What do veterans experience when faced with financial challenges and what can they do to overcome them?

We chatted with Caleb Saxby, who was enlisted in the U.S. Army from 2002-2006, and deployed to Iraq from 2003-2004. Both Caleb and his wife, Amanda, who is also a veteran, are part of Easterseals Greater Houston’s Train your Own Service Dog program and attended Camp Coleman, a family retreat focused on integrating new service dogs into veteran and military families. Additionally, they have been guest speakers for Easterseals Greater Houston’s Youth Action Council.

Navigating Through the Red Tape: Disabled Veterans and Financial Wellness

Caleb and his family

How has Easterseals impacted your life?

My wife and I became connected with Easterseals when we moved to the Houston area a few years ago through the service dog program. At first, I was not sure about the service dog program, but honestly can’t imagine life without my service dog now.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for military veterans and families when it comes to money management and financial literacy?

I know just from my own experience and from some of my close friends that leaving the military is a hard transition to make, even if it you weren’t injured or anything. Leaving the way that I did, after an injury, you aren’t necessarily super prepared for that change. Many did not plan on leaving and already have families to take care of and college is not always the best option. So, when you factor in not previously planning for it and work options being limited, many times veterans feel like it is an uphill battle immediately and they just can’t catch up.

How can having a disability impact a veteran’s financial options in your experience?

You have to take into consideration that we may or may not be able to physically do the same types of jobs you have training on or have previously done, so a lot of us go in the workforce again at the bottom rung when leaving the military. You also have to think about the missed wages due to multiple doctor appointments and various things that are now a regular thing for many veterans when coming home.

What do you wish more people knew about the process of reintegrating into civilian life and financial stability after service?

Well, if I could speak to the people who are currently in the military, I would advise them to start preparing now because it really does make a difference. If you are like me and many others though who left the military unprepared fully, there are options for help out there for you. There are people to even help with navigating your way through all the different programs you may be qualified for, so check into it and do your homework to find out what is out there.

What advice might you give a fellow veteran or military family members who are feeling overwhelmed about their financial situation?

I would just let them know that there is help available if you need it. Yes, there is red tape a lot of the time, and it can be a headache. It is worth it though for not just the veteran but their entire family. When you do get the help you need, use it for the intended purpose. Use it so you aren’t going paycheck to paycheck and wondering if there is enough in the bank to make it to the next payday.

Through our partnerships and referrals, Easterseals is dedicated to supporting the well-being of veterans in our communities. That’s why we have collaborated with Freddie Mac to share free and accessible money management tools for veterans and military families. Through CreditSmart Military, you can learn about building credit, working through debt and more. If homeownership is a goal, this program can set you up for success.

As Caleb pointed out, it can be overwhelming to navigate the help that is available. Easterseals is available to help shift through the red tape so that you are connected with the right support. Contact an Easterseals near you to learn more about services offered in your area.


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