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More Military Families Struggling With Debt

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These days, a large number of consumers are still struggling to make ends meet every month as the effects of the recession continue to fade from view. But few Americans are likely struggling as much as military families.

While the federal government allows for military members serving in active combat overseas additional pay, housing allowances and tax exemptions, many of their families are still struggling financially for a number of reasons, according to a report from CBS News. For one thing, those families who are being moved around with regularity may have trouble finding employment for the other spouse, and they may incur some moving costs not covered by federal allowances. The unemployment rate among military spouses is roughly 26%.

“The stress factors with the families is just unbelievable,” Roger Mealey, a Vietnam veteran who runs a website to aid struggling military families, told the news service, adding, “It just frustrates me. If we’re asking them to serve their country and put their life on the line, I don’t think their families should be put in the position where they’re sleeping on the floor or don’t have enough food to feed their kids.”

A recent survey found that 27% of service members had more than $10,000 in credit card debt, which can be difficult to deal with, the report said. That’s compared with just 16% of civilians. In addition, more than one-third of military families responded that they struggle to pay the bills every month, and 20% also had to borrow money from entities other than banks.

Problematically, there is help available to service members, but they may not always use it, the report said. For example, the military provides financial counseling services, but many soldiers may not seek it out because they don’t want their peers or commanders to know they’re having money trouble. Further, there are a number of nonprofit organizations like Mealey’s that exist specifically to help military members make ends meet.

Military members who are having financial difficulties should seek out help wherever they can find it. Even if they don’t want to go through official channels, conducting a simple search online might help them to find some form of assistance that they may not have known about.

Image: The U.S. Army, via Flickr

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