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Publication #FAR9026

Debt Problems for Military Families1

Josephine Turner2

Figure 1. 
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In a current release from Eglin Air Force Base, base commanders reported that their personnel are addressing the same financial struggles that many Americans are facing. They report that financial problems were one of the top reasons for divorce and the number one cause for male suicides. Additionally, at least two people per week are losing their security clearance because of money problems. According to the survey data, 61% of the Air Force does not put money in a savings account. Adding to the problem, many of their service personnel are turning to payday lenders who charge more than 300% interest—so people are paying $15 per $100, further limiting their chances of getting out of debt.

Colonel Edmond Keith, the Air Base Wing Commander, reported that financial awareness has become a top priority for the base. As another official explained, "Financial awareness helps maintain readiness and retention; personnel cannot maintain readiness if they're stressed out over finances."

To address the issue, several organizations have started offering programs to help personnel learn how to better manage their finances. They're also hosting a money expo to "teach people how to build wealth, not debt." In fact, Eglin is the test base for the "Air Force Saves Campaign," a program the Air Force hopes will ultimately help military personnel not only in the Air Force but throughout the Department of Defense.

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This document is FAR9026, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 159 and published October 2010. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Josephine Turner, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.