The December holidays stretch the budgets of the most financially secure families, but they pose special challenges for military personnel, their spouses and kids.
From frequent moves and post-deployment unemployment to disability and post-traumatic stress, many obstacles loom as these families struggle just to make ends meet, let alone have a joyous holiday celebration.
There are approximately 711,000 spouses of active duty members (93 percent are female), and 1.9 million children with a parent in the military, according to “Strengthening Our Military Families,” a 2011 report by the administration of President Barack Obama.
Their needs are acute: The overall wage gap between civilian and military wives is 42 percent, and a 2011 survey by the National Military Family Association found that 39 percent of service families had suffered a recent financial setback.
“With their holiday budgeting and spending, the challenges are compounded,” says J.J. Montanaro, a certified financial planner at USAA, a company that offers financial products primarily to the military community. “They have to move every few years, and many have faced multiple deployments since 9/11.”
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