Military families may fall on hard financial times due to factors such as injury or disability, the inability of a spouse to work, or, in the case of reservists, the need to leave a higher-paying job behind when called to active duty. Explore the different public and private sources of financial aid for service members, their spouses, and their children. Also available are educational scholarship programs for service members and their families, and financial assistance programs for injured service members and disabled veterans.
A number of government financial programs are available for active-duty members, veterans, and their families.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides disability housing grants for veterans. These grants are geared for veterans with service-related disabilities to buy a home or adapt their current homes in order to live more independently.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a HUD-VA supportive housing program for homeless veterans. The program combines the HUD's Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance with case management and clinical services. These services are available at VA medical centers, community-based outreach clinics, or through VA contractors or other designated entities.
U.S. Department of Defense
The Department of Defense (DOD) provides emergency financial assistance if a military family is impacted by COVID-19.
The DOD and VA provide a military tuition assistance program to help service members in all four branches and the U.S. Coast Guard to achieve their educational goals.
Burial and Survivor Benefits
When a service member dies during active duty, the surviving family members may be entitled to a burial allowance.
After a military service member retires, they can sign up for a survivor benefit plan to care for their families in the event of their death:
Active-duty retirees can enroll in the military's Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).
Reserve and National Guard retirees can enroll in the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP).
- The VA also provides Service Members Group Life Insurance (SMGLI), an extremely low-cost life insurance program for members of the military. This insurance program also includes protection in the event of traumatic injury.
Many non-profit organizations provide financial help for military families in need. A few of these organizations are:
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) provides the Unmet Needs program. It is a financial grant, not a loan, which means there is no repayment of the financial aid. This VFW program provides up to $1500 to help with basic life needs from unforeseen difficulties such as deployment, or other military-related activities or injuries.
VFW also provides scholarships through their "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program. Qualified applicants can receive up to $5000 to help achieve their educational goals.
USA Cares has a military assistance response program for service members or veterans who are experiencing temporary financial hardships.
American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association
The American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) offers a career assistance program (CAP) loan which is $5,000, at a low 1.5 percent interest rate, for active duty, guard, and reserve in ranks E5 to O4. There are no fees or prepayment penalties, and the funds can be used for whatever the service member or their family needs.
Coalition to Salute America's Heroes
The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes offers emergency financial aid to help pay for things such as utility bills, groceries, school supplies, auto repair, and even car and mortgage payments.
Meditec provides the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) scholarship program that is sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD). It offers up to $4,000 in assistance for eligible military spouses for career training expenses such as textbooks, laptops, and certification exams.
Hope for the Warriors also provides scholarships for military spouses as well as caregiver scholarships.
Children in Military Families
The American Legion provides temporary financial assistance grants for children of qualifying veterans. These grants help veterans with costs of shelter, food, and health expenses.
Folds of Honor provides scholarships for primary and secondary education for children of American heroes. Folds of Honor also provides college scholarships for children and spouses of service members.
The Scholarships for Military Children Program has scholarships available to children and spouses of military members that provide assistance with tuition for college and certification programs.
For Wounded Warriors
Operation First Response has a military family assistance program that provides financial help to wounded veterans and their families of all branches of the military. Assistance is provided from the onset of the illness, throughout the recovery period, and along the journey from military to civilian life. The financial aid for each case is based on needs that range from rent to groceries, to travel expenses to and from medical facilities.
Salute Heroes provides financial aid to American wounded veterans of the war on terror. Assistance can be for anything from paying overdue bills to paying for an online course to continue education.
Semper Fi and America's Fund provides bedside financial assistance during hospitalization or rehabilitation, as well as help with funding home renovations to help disabled service members live more independently.