Veterans Day in America. American flag with dog tags

This Veteran's Day, Let's Recognize How Vets Fare Financially

Each November 11, we recognize the many accomplishments and sacrifices made by our 22 million U.S. military veterans. We pay tribute to their bravery and service to our country, and hear many personal stories of what it means to be a veteran in America today.

Veterans are faring slightly
better financially than civilians,
even as they struggle under
the weight of credit card debt
and underwater mortgages.

One story worth telling is how America's veterans fare financially. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) recently released the nation's first comprehensive comparative analysis of the financial health of American veterans relative to non-veterans. The research was authored by William Skimmyhorn, Ph.D., a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and a professor at West Point.

There was good news in the data. Veterans are faring slightly better financially than civilians the analysis found, even as they struggle under the weight of credit card debt and underwater mortgages. On a positive note, relative to non-veterans, veterans are:

  • 5 percent more likely to be satisfied with their financial condition;
  • 4 percent more likely to have an emergency savings fund; and
  • 4 percent less likely to have difficulty covering their monthly expenses.

Furthermore, veterans are 22 percent less likely to be unemployed than are civilians and slightly (2 percent) more likely to be covered by health insurance.

That said, the study found veterans are 40 percent more likely to be underwater on their homes and 28 percent more likely to have made a late mortgage payment in the past year. In addition, veterans are 9 percent more likely to engage in problematic credit card behavior, like carrying a balance or making late payments.

There are critical differences within the veteran population in financial attitudes and behaviors. For instance, the analysis revealed:

  • Air Force veterans are 19 percent less likely to report having difficulty covering their expenses than Army veterans.
  • Veterans who left the military 10 or more years ago are 43 percent less likely to report an unexpected drop in income than those who left the military in the last year.
  • Veterans who retired from the military are 14 percent less likely to report difficulty covering their expenses than those who did not retire from the military.

The analysis is based on the FINRA Foundation's 2015 National Financial Capability Study (NFCS), which includes data on more than 3,000 veterans and 23,000 non-veterans. The NFCS is a large-scale, ongoing study aimed at monitoring and better understanding financial capability in the U.S.

You can find additional information about the National Financial Capability Study, including detailed methodology documents, at www.USFinancialCapability.org.

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