Providing financial education for Wounded Warriors

Jan 02, 2013

Dayton Warfle trained in the U.S. Marine Corps as a fighter pilot. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with an engineering degree and was deployed to Japan, Korea and the Philippines as a naval flight officer. He then returned to pilot training, flying aircraft carrier operations Europe, Libya and the western Mediterranean.

After 23 years of dedicated service, he retired from the military; he then joined Bank of America. Today he’s put his military training to good use as an operational risk executive, charged with helping the bank manage their risks. But his other calling—as head of Bank of America’s Military Support and Assistance Group—is working with veterans and employees in the military.

Warfle recently got involved as a financial coach for the first Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Economic Empowerment session held in Jacksonville, Florida. WWP, which started in 2003, serves over 25,000 wounded warriors and caregivers. The goal of the nonprofit is to help service members make the transition back into civilian life.

With support from Bank of America, WWP developed the financial workshop for wounded warriors and their families. The workshop, delivered by volunteers from the bank, covers topics from Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, to preparing a tax return, to creating a monthly budget. In addition, military members are eligible for one-on-one financial coaching.

At the end of the first workshop, Warfle said, “It was a valuable effort for the veterans and their families. The seven employee volunteers from Merrill Lynch Wealth Management all recognized how valuable the information they provided was. This was especially true when we talked with the participants about the financial stresses of the holiday season. I also think the discussions on debt and credit cards, along with APR fees and credit scores, helped ease their anxiety and gave them the tools they needed to plan ahead.”

Lewis Runnion, the Director of the Military Affairs at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, helps coordinate dozens of programs across the bank that support military service members and their families. Says Runnion, “The bank’s efforts to support the military are wide-ranging, but this program, working with Wounded Warrior, is an important one. A service member who has returned from active duty with an injury has very specific financial considerations, from filing for their government insurance payments to managing their finances for the long haul. The program, including the one-on-one coaching, is focused on addressing their needs very directly. ”

Joshua Kuhbander, a Merrill Lynch financial advisor, was one of seven volunteer financial coaches who presented in Jacksonville. “If I could sum up how I felt after talking to the warriors, it would be humbled. These individuals made huge sacrifices for our country,” he said. “The best part of the day was sitting down and talking to them. We got as much out of meeting them as they got from those of us who gave the workshop.”

After a follow-up session in Jacksonville, The Wounded Warrior financial education workshop program will be held in additional locations in 2013.

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