The Army yesterday announced a partnership with TV personality and money expert Suze Orman. You probably recognize her from her longtime MSNBC show, books or other products. The Army's partnership puts Orman's financial course -- usually priced $54 -- in the hands of troops for free through her website (using "USA" as a "gift" or "activation code" at sign-up).
But that online course is designed for everyone -- not just military members -- and doesn't contain information about the military-specific financial issues we all face, such as our upcoming new military retirement system, the current retirement system, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), the Service Members Group Life Insurance (SGLI), the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) or any other number of military-only financial perks and gotchas.
Although the original announcement didn't include a lot of specifics, we've since learned that she will soon develop a Suze Orman military video course series that specifically addresses those sticky military-specific money issues. The series, officials said, will help the military services meet their congressional mandate to provide better financial education to troops.
"We don’t exactly know what that looks like," said Erin Thede, director of the Army Reserve's Private Public which pushed the active duty Army to develop a similar program. "Do we want her to do frequently asked questions? Do we want crowd sources answered? Once we better understand what that video looks like we can get that in production."
Right now the Army's new financial education offerings focus on their own web-based program. But Thede said she sees a special value in the more personal training Suze Orman military specific guidance can provide.
"The website is amazing. It does a really good job of training," she said. "I think there’s something to be said to having a face-to-face with someone who brings so much credibility, to sit down with them, even through a video."
Thede hopes that Orman can also travel to host in-person trainings and events on military bases worldwide, something Orman said she would like to do. But getting the go-ahead for that is a little more complicated, and requires a complicated clearance process through DoD legal, so it's not clear when or if something like that may actually happen.
Orman is donating all of her time and resources used for this effort to the DoD.