CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan— --
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan— “If you really want to have a true change in your life that will be impactful, understanding finances is huge,” said Anthony Green, a personal financial management specialist on Camp Foster and instructor of the Command Financial Specialist course. “It takes everything you work for and it pulls it in one direction, and in return your success rate increases.”
Sailors and Marines graduated from the 40 hour command financial specialist training course on June 9 aboard Camp Foster.
CFS training is a week long course designated for E-6 and above. The purpose of this course is to train, counsel and educate senior leadership so they can bring that knowledge back to their junior Marines and Sailors.
“Once they acquire basic financial skills it literally changes their lifestyle,” said Green. “The course is so effective because the three personal financial management specialists on island will not be the only ones teaching, they’ll have the support of Marines working with them.”
The Marine Corps continues to see the value in this course. It started in 2015 with one CFS for every 300 Marines. Now, in 2017, the goal is one CFS for every 75 Marines.
“The billet is increasing because there is such a demand for financial understanding,” said Green. “You have these young Marines, some fresh out of high school. One day they were at home kicking the bricks, throwing rocks, going fishing and the next day their whole life changed, especially financially. The CFS was put in place to help educate them.”
The ultimate goal of the CFS training is for informed senior leadership to go back and train their Marines to be financially stable, according to Tara Gould, personal financial management specialist for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Kinser, and an instructor for the CFS course.
“What we know is that a financially stable Marine is a mission ready Marine,” said Gould. “A Marine who is distressed will not perform at the same level. Their mind won’t be focused on the mission. We exist to help Marines and Sailors and get where they need to be financially. We give them an opportunity to sit in the seat of their junior service member, and look at things from their perspective.”
When the students first enrolled, Gould asked the Marines and Sailors to bring a personal list of their finances, bank statements and debts.
You can’t handle bad finances the same way that you handle a Marine drinking in the barracks, according to Gould. PFM and CFS try to breach the wall built around different forms of communication, making it easier for the Marines and Sailors to open up. Personal finances are an intimate subject for most people.
“At first, I was hesitant to have someone peer into my personal files,” said Master Sgt. Terrence C. York, the radio chief of 7th Communications Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Before the course even began, we got a feeling for how our junior Marines will feel when we ask to see all of their financial records. It makes you feel vulnerable at first, but the exercises we do during training with our peers help us relate to our future clients.”
The PFMs utilized multiple tools to help the Sailors and Marines effectively absorb all of the information.
“We have them wear civilian attire and go by first names here,” said Green. “When you are in a class and everyone is in uniform with their heavy collars, your whole disposition will change. You have a real conversation about money on a completely different level. Money doesn’t know or care about ranks, and when you are talking about finances you shouldn’t either. My favorite part of any class is when I see the light bulb. You physically see them grow.”
The newly graduated Marines and Sailors will go back to their command and serve as a liaison. Their knowledge of basic finances will provide invaluable help to their junior Marines and Sailors.
“I can’t wait to take everything I learned in this class to go back to my command,” said York. “I’d like to start a program that Marines don’t just need, but one they also want. Hopefully, I will give the rough and tough love that I wish I had as a junior Marine. Looking back now, I wish I had this information and I can’t wait to provide it to my unit. I will send any Marines who are eligible for this course, no questions asked.”