Military service comes with several benefits that aim to blunt the shortfalls service members encounter. Some lesser known, yet equally impactful, benefits become available for reservists from time to time.
1. Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
Though the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides some financial protection, a 2022 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that activated reserve and National Guard members were not receiving the full benefits of SCRA.
The SCRA allows reservists on active duty and National Guard members on orders for more than 30 days to request that interest rates on financial obligations that were established before being activated be capped at 6%. A mortgage interest rate should not exceed 6% for the duration of military service, and this cap extends to one year after the period of military service ends. Non-mortgage loans such as credit cards, auto loans, home equity loans and student loans are capped at 6% only during the period of military service.
Between 2007 and 2018, fewer than 10% of auto loans and 6% of personal loans received a reduced interest rate. Until more lenders proactively use the Defense Manpower Data Center SCRA website, service members should advocate for an interest rate change on the date their mobilization orders begin to receive significant savings, according to the CFPB.
2. Food insecurity benefits
A 2020 Department of Defense survey found that almost 25% of junior enlisted service members struggled to put food on the table.
The PenFed Foundation recently approved a $10,000 grant to support the Food Insecurity Programs of Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall for junior enlisted service members and their families. The base currently supports 3,503 Army Reserve Component Soldiers and 4,466 Dependents of Army Reserve Component Soldiers, among others. Reserve component and National Guard members can also check eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance to offset food costs.
Feeding America and an anonymous donor recently donated a $110,000 grant to The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to tackle food insecurity among military families and veterans. Through its MilitaryShare program, Central Pennsylvania veterans, active-duty military and their families receive healthy shelf-stable food items, fresh milk, meat, eggs and produce.
3. TRICARE pharmacy
The TRICARE pharmacy contract was renegotiated after several independent pharmacies left the TRICARE network, according to a March 2023 new release. With the recent changes, 4,000 of the roughly 15,000 independent pharmacies rejoined the network. TRICARE’s
participating retail pharmacies network now expands to 42,500 pharmacies. As such, 98% of beneficiaries now live within 15 minutes of a network retail pharmacy, and beneficiaries will have lower out-of-pocket costs.
Beneficiaries can continue to fill generic and name-brand prescriptions for $0 copays at a military pharmacy. At in-network retail pharmacies, a 30-day fill costs no more than $14 for generics and $38 for name-brand drugs. Beneficiaries can also opt to receive a 90-day supply from a mail-order pharmacy.Read comments