TEMPLE, Texas — Life Skills for Soldiers is not just a passion project, it's a way of life for a group of Army veterans who too often saw the best soldiers fall through the cracks and were ill-equipped with valuable skills to survive, not only in the Army but in the civilian world.
"I think the real low hanging fruit is the personal finance piece, how to make a budget, how to buy a car, how to invest, how to choose and use a credit card, all these types of things," said Brendan Duebner, the founder and CEO of the company.
For many soldiers setting a budget, sticking to it and financial responsibility are things they've never been taught.
An article posted on Military.com says the Department of Defense is hunting down predatory lenders, according to annual percentage rates that can top 400%.
"We want to be able to help troops be proactive and leaders be proactive about having their troops learn these vital life skills that will help them find success," Duebner said.
That's where Life Skills for Soldiers comes in. They do it through an approach called "Train the trainer methodology." A chance to train leaders who can teach and help their soldiers to become financially responsible.
"I think a lot of it is (they) just aren't taught in our public school systems and therefore, a lot of these troops come from poor education systems and if the knowledge isn't already in their family, where would they gain these skills," Duebner said.
The program currently offers courses on budgeting, investing, choosing a credit card and buying a car. Duebner said Life Skills for Soldiers has been around for about a year and a half now and while they are making a difference, he knows more can be done.
"Accountability is the secret, which is why we think the train to trainer methodology is so superior," Duebner said when asked his number one tip for successful budgeting. "If you're a soldier out there and you sit down with your NCO or leader and go through what your budget is looking like now, and where your money is going now and where you want it to go, now they know about it and they can help you stay accountable. They can tell you when you're messing up and when you're doing well."
For more information on the program or how you can sign up or volunteer, you can visit the Life Skills for Soldiers website.
If you are a soldier or know of one that needs financial help, Brendan is available to reach out to via his e-mail address.