Spc. Verne Edward, a member of D Company, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, receives a certificate of excellence and an outdoor gas grill from Tina Lanier, AmeriCU financial center manager, and Diane Hupko, Fort Drum Financial Readiness Program specialist. Edward earned the title of 2023 Fort Drum Financial Readiness Ambassador after competing in the Financial Knowledge Bowl on April 27. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
10th Combat Aviation Soldier demonstrates skills during Financial Knowledge Bowl on post
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 5, 2023) – Spc. Verne Edward knows a thing or two about personal finances, and he put that knowledge to the test recently against other 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers during Financial Literacy Month.
Edward, a member of D Company, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, earned the title of 2023 Fort Drum Financial Readiness Ambassador after competing in the Financial Knowledge Bowl on April 27.
“It was a pleasant surprise to win,” he said. “I was confident, and I thought I had a good shot because I felt prepared. It really was a great event, and I had fun.”
Edward said that fiscal responsibility is something he first became cognizant of when he joined the Army.
“For me, financial readiness means having certain things in place – you have your retirement and savings accounts set up, you have an actual budget, and you are tracking your spending,” he said. “I actually had my financial awakening when I joined the Army.”
Edward enlisted in October 2020 and received some financial education while in advanced individual training.
“I went to that class and I was blown away, because at that point in my life I was not thinking about things like investments and savings,” he said. “But that was when I decided I needed to do something about it. I think it’s important for Soldiers to take finances seriously.”
When he arrived at Fort Drum, he met with Diane Hupko, a Financial Readiness Program specialist at the Family Resource Center (FRC).
“We had a talk, and that’s when I started getting all my affairs in order,” Edward said.
Edward recalled that meeting with Hupko when she moderated the Knowledge Bowl.
“He reminded me that, once upon a time, I provided him with financial counseling when he was buying a house,” she said. “Now, he’s schooled me on a few things recently about what Soldiers need and what sort of financial topics concern them the most.”
But the Financial Readiness Program office is not the only place Edward visits at the FRC.
“It’s my second home on post,” he said. “I’ve used their services a lot. When my wife and I first got here, our household goods were not here, and there is a program where they let you borrow kitchen utensils and other things (Relocation Readiness Program’s Lending Closet). They also helped me when I was working to get my citizenship.”
Hupko said she was impressed with Edward’s performance at the Knowledge Bowl.
“He was amazing,” she said. “He could work for us right now, that was how well he did. Truth be told, he answered questions that could challenge financial professionals.”
The competition was in the style of “Jeopardy,” where contestants picked their categories and the level of difficulty. Categories included military pay and entitlements, Thrift Savings Plan, investments, car buying and the Blended Retirement System.
“This was not an easy competition at all,” Hupko said. “The expert-level questions were worth 1,000 points or more, and Spc. Edward ended up with a final score of 18,200.”
This was double the scores of the other three participants combined.
“Soldiers start receiving financial training early in their careers,” Hupko said. “We really hope they get to this level of knowledge, but to see it actually happen is amazing.”
Hupko said that the Financial Readiness Program partnered with AmeriCU for the Knowledge Bowl and other events during Financial Literacy Month, and the staff furnished the unit prize – an outdoor eight-burner gas grill. (Sponsorship does not imply endorsement.)
“We have an organizational day coming up,” he said. “My first sergeant was saying he wants to have a cultural potluck where people could bring food that is unique to their home country. This grill comes right on time for us.”
Edward said he is proud to have earned the title of Fort Drum Financial Readiness Ambassador.
“I’ve never had a title that is five words long before,” he joked. “But it is an honor. I’ve always wanted to be in a position where I can share what I know about finances, and I feel that title affords me that ability.”