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With the impending implementation of the military’s blended retirement system, Wisconsin’s Service Member Support Division is adding full-time personal financial consultants as liaisons to the new system.

Jay Voigt, a certified financial planner with 18 years of experience, was the first professional hired during this initiative.

Voigt had previously worked with the SMSD from 2008 to 2014. He returns as a subject matter expert about the blended retirement system, however he will still be able to assist service members and their families with other financial matters.

Under the blended retirement system, service members are eligible for retirement benefits after as few as two years of service, and they can take their retirement account with them as they enter the private sector. The blended retirement system also adds an element of contribution matching.

Most current service members will have the choice to remain with the military’s current retirement system or to opt-in to the blended retirement system, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.

In addition to financial planning, Voigt offers help with building credit, budgeting, increasing income, and retirement savings. He will also be hosting a series of three webinars on the SMSD website focusing on financial readiness starting Oct. 23. The SMSD will continue to host other webinars each month on a variety of topics throughout the year.

While this service is provided free of charge to any current service member and their immediate family, Voigt notes that most people who see him are experiencing a change in their life. This includes marriage, divorce, a first or new job, buying a first home, retiring, or other new financial experiences.

“Ninety-five percent of the people that come to me with a financial problem start off the conversation with, ‘Everything was going great until…’ and the untils are always somewhat predictable things,” Voigt said. “You know your water heater is going to go out. You know your furnace is going to go out. You know your transmission is going to go on your car. You just don’t know when it’s going to be.”

Because of this, he recommends having an emergency fund to avoid having a situation turn into a financial crisis. He also strongly recommends people spend less than they earn.

Financial planning is an important tool in ensuring readiness throughout the Guard. Having a sound financial plan can help reduce stress before or during a deployment and can prevent damage to credit that would result in revocation of security clearance.

Service members or their families can make an appointment with Voigt by calling 703-635-9274 or emailing Service members within 50 miles of Madison can usually meet with him within a week, but it usually takes about two or three weeks for service members outside that radius. He is also available for presentations to units on drill weekends.

The first webinar will take place Sunday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m., and Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register here.