Tripler Army Medical Center strengthens staff’s financial readiness

| April 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
Spc. Cheng Li, (left), admission clerk at Tripler Army Medical Center Patient Administration, Spc. Chen Chen (center), medic at the TAMC Mother Baby Unit, and Sgt. Shawnieka Byrd, (right), orthopedic technician at TAMC Orthopedics, document the financial goals they achieved to the Financial Peace University "Victory Board" while attending the course at Tripler Army Medical Center, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Leanne Thomas, Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs)

Spc. Cheng Li, (left), admission clerk at Tripler Army Medical Center Patient Administration, Spc. Chen Chen (center), medic at the TAMC Mother Baby Unit, and Sgt. Shawnieka Byrd, (right), orthopedic technician at TAMC Orthopedics, document the financial goals they achieved to the Financial Peace University “Victory Board” while attending the course at Tripler Army Medical Center, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Leanne Thomas, Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs)

Story and photo by
Leanne Thomas
Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs

HONOLULU — Tripler Army Medical Center’s Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care (DMPC) and the Alakai Chapter Sergeant Audie Murphy Club partnered to offer Financial Peace University to TAMC’s most valuable asset: its dedicated professional staff.

TAMC offers training, development and promotion opportunities to support its staff to ensure it is equipped with a “ready medical force” that is prepared to care for service members, families and retirees throughout the Pacific.

“As Soldiers, we must be, at a moment’s notice, ready to fight and win the nation’s wars; financial readiness is a key component to that readiness,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Lenny Siems, a chaplain clinician at the TAMC Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care, and the lead facilitator of Financial Peace University training at TAMC.

According to a 2013 news relase by by financial expert and adviser Dave Ramsey, who founded the Financial Peace University program, the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps reviewed Financial Peace University (Military) and found the course appropriate for use in stewardship training because the lessons cover career-building, investing, relationships and money, and eliminating debt.

The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club also supports stewardship training that furthers education, self-development, mentorship and organizational support.

Master Sgt. William Short is the president of the Alakai Chapter Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, a volunteer Financial Peace coordinator and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the TAMC Department of Health, Education & Training.

“As leaders, we have seen financial issues have a negative impact on the overall readiness of organizations,” Short said. “One easy way to combat that is education: ‘Give a man a fish; he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he can eat every day.'”

With this philosophy in mind, Short initiated a partnership between the TAMC DMPC and the Alakai Chapter to offer Financial Peace to TAMC employees and immediate family members. The commonalities shared by the Alakai Chapter and TAMC DMPC strengthened this partnership and created a class rapport as both facilitators shared their journeys toward financial peace and their experiences as leaders.

“Before becoming a financial peace coordinator, I was once a statistic of financial hardships,” Short said. “I thought it was normal to finance everything and have payments. This program helped me turn my entire financial situation around over a period of time.”

During the class, participants learned a number of alarming financial statistics for the military and nationwide. For example, 56 percent of enlisted military personnel report difficulty with family finances; $15,000 is the average credit card debt in the U.S., (not including all debt, just credit card debt); 68 percent of Americans do not save for retirement, but live on social security; the average retirement age in the U.S. is 80 years; and the nation’s average savings rate is 5.8 percent of all earned income, the lowest in the industrialized world.

“The fact is, if your people are struggling with their personal finances, they are not focused on the mission. As a leader, you see this problem all the time,” Short explained. “Garnishments, loss of clearances, divorce, family violence and suicides are common responses to financial stress, and these negatively impact readiness.”

Siems has also observed financial issues across the force through his role as a counselor and a Soldier’s confidant in times of need.

“I have seen many relationships crash due to a lack of communication,” he said. “Lack of communication affects the financial, spiritual and emotional components of a relationship. If one’s finances are always a constant tension in a relationship, this will also affect every other area of life. It is the same if you are single, with no one to be a sounding board. That person will also struggle, and it will affect their job and other areas of life.”

Financial Peace University is a nine-week program that started at TAMC in late January and averages 40 attendees each week. Many TAMC staff members have expressed interest in attending future financial peace training events.

The curriculum provides service members, civilians and their family members with knowledge on budgeting, saving, investing and overcoming debt.

“With the turnout, we have had offering FPU, I have no doubt there will be another course offered,” Short said. “There is so much motivation amongst the people that attend.”

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Category: Education, News

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