Mark Youdell, regional outreach coordinator for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission briefs attendees on investment scams and how to avoid them at Army Community Service’s Workforce Wellness Workshop, June 30. 

Army invests in civilian workforce

Story, photo by Emily Hileman, Fort Jackson Public Affairs


Army Community Service’s Financial Readiness Program hosted the Workforce Wellness Workshop to help the Fort Jackson civilian workforce reset, rebuild, and learn about resources and benefits available to them at the NCO Club, June 30.

“We’re going into Military Consumer Month, which is aimed to educate military members on consumer-type issues,” said Angela Crosland, financial readiness program manager with Army Community Service.

“It’s all about resetting, rebuilding, resilience and looking at your own personal wellness,” she said. Crosland was the main organizer for the Workforce Wellness Workshop, the first of its kind at Fort Jackson. “We are looking at doing it again in the future, but we do have other classes all the time. We’ve just never pulled this combination of classes together before.”

Michael Hightower, health educator at the Fort Jackson Armed Forces Wellness Center (formerly the Army Wellness Center) discussed stressors and effective stress management.

“You can’t help anybody else if you don’t help yourself,” Hightower said. “So, we’re going to make sure everyone takes care of themselves along the way.

Don’t let the name dissuade you from utilizing the wide variety of AFWC resources. AFWC supports all branches of the military as well as family members and Department of Defense civilians.

According to their website, “AFWC provide programs and services that improve and sustain health, performance, and readiness … delivered by highly trained health professionals.”

The Fort Jackson AFWC can be contacted at 751-5256 or visited in person at 4512 Stuart St. Monday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Hightower led all attendees in a deep breathing and relaxation exercise. After a relaxing moment, the workshop dove headfirst into a special presentation from Mark Youdell, regional outreach coordinator, and Craig Beasley, administrative officer, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We have a three-part mission at the SEC,” Youdell said. “First and foremost is to protect investors. Second is to maintain fair and orderly markets in the United States. The last thing is to facilitate capital formation.”

Youdell educated the group on various investment scams such as Ponzi, Pyramid, and pump-and-dump frauds. He also noted the difference between Pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing businesses.

When referring to MLMs, he said, “They make enough revenue selling the actual products that it’s not a pyramid scheme.” He added that if they’re advertising a product but make most of their profit in recruiting and registration, it’s likely a pyramid scheme.

“Big investment firms advertise. You go to them,” Beasley said. “They don’t come to you. Licensed investors also have a fiduciary responsibility, meaning that they have to act in your best interest, not necessarily their company’s best interest.”

A few other pieces of advice were:

• Trust, but verify. If Social Security, Veterans Affairs, or the Internal Revenue Service contacts and requests personal information for verification, don’t give it to them. Hang up, look up their business phone number on their website and call them back to verify it was actually them that called you.

• Before investing, ensure your investment advisor is registered and hasn’t been previously sued by the SEC. Advisors are legally required to register with the SEC and are given a unique, Central Registration Depository number. You can verify this information, see customer complaints, and previous employment for them at

• Do your due diligence and research before you invest. Research the product, individual and the business first.

• Be aware of high-pressure sales tactics and “limited time offers.”

• Research publicly-traded companies on the SEC’s Electronic-Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system also known as EDGAR. EDGAR provides free public access to corporate information such as registration statements, period reports, and overviews that show a company’s business and financial condition.

• Contact Investor Assistance line at (404) 842-7676 for more information

Following the plethora of advice concerning investments and how to avoid scams, Shawn Smith, personal financial readiness specialist with ACS detailed the importance of knowing your investments and retirement options through Thrift Savings Plan and the Government Retirement & Benefits Platform.

Smith elaborated on the role of ACS’s Financial Readiness Program and how they can help you prepare for the future.

“We are financial counselors, not advisors. My job is not to tell you how to invest,” Smith said. “My job is to get you the information.”

Lastly, Dr. Treva Anderson, a master resilience trainer and lead performance expert with Fort Jackson’s Ready & Resilient Performance Center led the group in a team wellness and cohesion activity aimed to bring the group closer together to build an environment based on trust and understanding.

“The more we communicate and work together as a team, the better we can serve the military community,” Anderson said. “Everything that I do is designed to help the community of Fort Jackson to be ready and resilient.”

“We’re six months into the year and a lot goes on as far as taking care of clients, but it’s also important to take care of yourself,” said Crosland. “So, we tried to put together something that touched on different topics such as stress relief, managing your money, avoiding fraud and teamwork. That way, we can all finish out the year strong.”

If you missed this training, have no fear. ACS has several programs and services available to military members, their families, and civilians. For more information, visit, or call 751-5256.