"It's hard to say something is free when you've given your service for it," says Katie Savant of the National Military Family Association.
A few earned benefits you might not be aware of:
Private college tuition for kids. The GI Bill generally doesn't fully pay for private college tuition -- the max is $18,078 per academic year for post-9/11 vets -- but through Yellow Ribbon programs, some schools cover the gap. These benefits, like those of the GI Bill, can be passed to spouses and kids. Find info at gibill.va.gov.
Mental health services. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers vets access to counselors via videoconferencing through its Telemental Health Program (go to va.gov for details). Friends and family of soldiers and vets can also get phone help through the VA's new Coaching Into Care program.
Financial planning help. The Financial Planning Association offers pro bono sessions for military families on Yellow Ribbon weekends (yellowribbon.mil for info). Also, H&R Block provides members of the armed services with audit help, tax prep, and other advice.
Money for nursing care. The Department of Veterans Affairs' Aid and Attendance program is often overlooked, says Randy Noller of the VA. Through the program, vets may qualify to receive extra income to cover nursing home care or to pay an aide. Apply via your regional VA office.
Just 10 years of aggressive saving can help you sock away enough money for a comfortable retirement.
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