Some veterans may have better access to banking now, through a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Association of Military Banks of America. It’s especially beneficial for those who haven’t been able to open bank accounts in the past, which hampers their ability to get their VA benefit funds by direct deposit.
The VA delivers about $118 billion each year in benefits and services for veterans and their families. About 250,000 veterans and beneficiaries receive their benefits through a pre-paid debit card or paper check, and may not have a bank account.
An added plus is that these banks are already familiar with the financial needs and challenges of service members, and can also support veterans with financial education and resources tailored to their needs, said Paul Lawrence, under secretary for benefits for the VA. Some of the participating banks have branches on bases, but they also have a large number of branches outside the gate, which will be accessible to veterans, said Andia Dinesen, vice president of communications and operations for AMBA.
There are currently seven banks participating in the Veterans Benefits Banking Program: Armed Forces Bank; Bank of America; First Arkansas Bank and Trust; Fort Hood National Bank; FSNB; Regions; and Wells Fargo. Dinesen said other banks and credit unions are welcome to join the effort, too.
For more information, visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/banking.asp.