WTB offers new program to help Soldiers fix finances

Chaplain (Capt.) James Choi refers to his materials while facilitating the class on financial management for Soldiers and staff at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. (U.S. Army photo courtesy Capt. James Choi)
February 14, 2020

ARLINGTON, Va. – Financial struggles and hardships can hit anyone from any background, including Soldiers. U.S. Army Chaplain (Maj.) James Choi, who serves as the Chaplain at the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Warrior Transition Battalion, has noticed this issue has impacted Soldiers and staff and is taking steps to help them improve their financial situation.

“This past year, while I’ve been [at the WTB] and with my previous ministry experience in Hawaii, I have noticed during my counseling there are a lot of young families and young Soldiers who are struggling,” Choi said. “Half of them have family issues and in those issues many are having financial struggles. So I talked with our command team to start this program for the Soldiers and staff.”

The financial program is a nine week course that teaches individuals financial principles through a faith-based perspective using scripture references and every day stories to help emphasize financial independence.

Spc. Norvin Gulmayo, a new Soldier at the WTB, began participating in the program after getting the recommendation from his squad leader. “I just came home from deployment and, of course, deployed Soldiers have all this money saved and you’re just staring at it in the bank,” Gulmayo said. “Sometimes you just don’t know what to do with it, so it’s helpful to get pointers and tips from someone that’s been through it.”

Capt. Francis Lee also participates in the program to learn new money managing strategies and help him be more disciplined with his finances. Lee says the class has redefined the culture of finance and helped change his mind set when it comes to using a budget.

“Budgeting seems to be commonly referred to as something that’s controlling, but the course emphasizes it’s not the budget that’s controlling you, it’s you that’s controlling the budget,” Lee explained.

That concept of being in control has also benefited Gulmayo who set up a budget to help him get out of debt while he was deployed. Despite being injured and forced to come home early, he is still using it. He says the lessons from this class have helped him stay on track.

“It’s rewarding in a way and it’s comforting to be in control [of your finances],” Gulmayo said. “Whether or not you’re financially secure or struggling, I would recommend this class.”

Chaplain Choi is happy with the way the class has been received and the financial help that it’s provided to Soldiers so far. He’s also excited about how the class helps couples and families in other ways.

“This program is not just about saving money or managing your budget. It is also about strengthening our families,” Choi explained. “Couples are taught to work together to find concerns or problems that they have in their life and then set common goals and plan, together, to make a difference and enhance their married life. This program also provides a great opportunity to teach children to live smartly, differently, and how to use money at their level.”

Although Choi will be leaving the WTB soon, he plans to “highly recommend” to his replacement they continue the program for those who want to learn more about finances, hopefully, before they find themselves in financial trouble.

“One thing I think is great about the program is everyone that comes, does so because they want to participate. Nobody is pushing them. We have Soldiers, staff and cadre participating and everyone is learning something for their own future to create a better life for them.”

Note: Adaptive Reconditioning Support Specialist, Janalyn Dunn at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii Warrior Transition Battalion contributed to this article.

The Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.