U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) wants to offer veterans help with housing, health care, finances and other benefits.
Accompanied by members of New Jersey Citizen Action and representatives from Citi, Menendez met with veterans at the American Legion building in Belleville to announce the launch of a new financial education program for veterans.
“This program is going to save lives,” said Vietnam Veteran Greg Payton. “Trust me.”
Payton, who said he was one of thousands of homeless veterans upon returning from Vietnam, praised NJCA and Citi for their efforts to make sure veterans are equipped for civilian life.
“The return of thousands of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan has called attention to the huge need for comprehensive financial education and counseling services for veterans and their families,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director for NJCA.
The Financial Resource Education and Empowerment (FREE) program was designed by NJCA and initially funded in large part by Citi to help veterans get control of their money.
The program seeks to educate NJ veterans on housing, tax preparation, healthcare, finances and make sure they are aware of what benefits they are entitled to as veterans.
“Veterans are deservedly among the most respected and revered members of this nation,” said Menendez, “but we need to do more than salute them for their duty. Even after the physical and mental wounds of war heal, many veterans find themselves struggling to survive… Many return to find a complicated financial system which they have to navigate alone. This program makes sure they are not alone.”
Menendez, who is up for re-election in November, commended NJCA for finding a solution to the “often overlooked” problem. He said he is proud of his work in Washington as an advocate for veterans, and someone who has opposed cutting entitlements and pensions for those who have served in the military.
“Today is about getting out the word that this program is there and it is available,” said Helen Steblecki, Citi Community Development State Director for New Jersey. “Empowering veterans and military families to manage their money is the driving force of this partnership.”
Citi has hired thousands of veterans and has plans to hire at least 1,100 more this year, according to Robert Annibale, Global Director for Citi Microfinance and Community Development. “We have enhanced our recruiting process to translate veteran experience into how it would benefit our [company].”
“We are proud to have served those who have served,” said Salowe-Kaye.
More information is available at njcitizenaction.org.