- Associated Press - Sunday, February 23, 2014

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Military veterans have received some personal finance training through a pilot program launched this week by Ohio’s treasurer at the University of Toledo.

About 20 veterans registered for the event, which included speakers and a financial literacy program, The Blade in Toledo (https://bit.ly/1fhuyHh) reported.

Treasurer John Mandel, a Marine veteran, said the Smart Money Choices program is meant to equip participants to pursue jobs or education and to make sure financial stress doesn’t add to the emotional and psychological struggles that returning service members often face.

Veterans Affairs data show nearly one-third of veterans struggle with financial concerns, he said.

“The more we can arm veterans on the front end with good financial education, as opposed to reacting on the back end when they’re in debt or filing for bankruptcy, the stronger we’ll be as a community, state, and country,” Mandel said.

The university’s military liaison said the program could help veterans think about what to do with the payments they receive for overseas service.

“A young person in the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, they go to Afghanistan they make all this tax-free money and ‘Hey, what do I do with all this?’” Navy Reserve Lt. Heraz Ghanbari said. “They’re not really thinking down the road. How can I invest this, how can this carry over to my rainy-day fund? How can this carry over to paying for some extra college?”

Mayor Mike Collins, a Marine veteran, promised to continue the city’s practice of giving “veteran’s points” when hiring for police and fire jobs.

“We are going to give veterans preferences in terms of hiring,” he said. “There’s no debate on this issue.”

Mandel said the program also can give entrepreneurial veterans some guidance on how to start their own businesses.

Mandel said he hopes to take the program to other parts of the state.

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Information from: The Blade, https://www.toledoblade.com/

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