GAO: Some troops struggle with financial literacy when it comes to retirement benefits

GAO: Some troops struggle with financial literacy when it comes to retirement benefits

by Steve Beynon
Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON -- The military offers a smorgasbord of benefits aimed at setting up troops for success during service and retirement. However, some service members aren’t financially literate enough for long-term financial planning after the recent transition to the new retirement system, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The study, conducted at the request of Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., found the Department of Defense does a lot to inform troops on the new retirement system -- known as the Blended Retirement System -- but service members across the military aren’t being assessed on their financial literacy.

“According to DOD officials, service members will make more financial decisions that may impact their ability to successfully save for retirement under BRS than under the Legacy Retirement System, which makes providing effective financial literacy training to service members particularly important,” the GAO’s study found.

Among the myriad of potential concerns among troops and their families, financial well-being is a top stressor, even topping mental health, according to Rebecca Burgess, a veterans studies research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

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