Program manager helped cut debt by $50k

Program manager helped cut debt by $50k

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Arcelio Alleyne, the financial readiness program manager with Army Community Service, counseled a Soldier and a civilian on eliminating a combined debt of more than $50,000 in June and July.

 Alleyne said he supports the command in making sure the Soldiers are financially ready to tackle matters that might come their way. He also said he assists service members from all branches, their family members, DoD civilians, contractors, retirees and he noted he has helped service members in the D.C. area. 

“One of the things that we actually do is focus on prevention and education because we do not want Soldiers to come when things are bad. We do outreach like Military Saves Week,” Alleyne said.

Military Saves Week is part of the Department of Defense’s Financial Readiness Campaign to motivate, support, and encourage military families to save money every month, reduce debt, and build wealth.

The two success stories are different situations that included a Soldier with a red flag on his credit report about a car debt. The other was a DoD civilian who had not paid on a student loan debt in years. Both of their jobs and their security clearances were threatened because a payment had not been made on the debts in a while.

Dan Furlano, the director of Army Community Service, spoke about his initial thoughts for when Alleyne aided the two with their situations. 

I was thrilled because it made an immediate impact in someone’s quality of life,” Furlano said. “Second, it also serves a long-term effect because it salvaged their security clearances. They were able to keep their jobs, and now a Soldier does not have to be replaced.”

Security Clearances

Alleyne said there is a continuous evaluation of security clearances in the form of an automated system check of commercial and government data sources on enrolled DoD members. The check is performed  regardless of renewal status.  If there is an occurrence of an unpaid debt, a person’s security officer contacts them to say that they must contact their creditor about the debt, and discuss if a payment plan is needed or if all debts can be paid in full. He said usually the creditor allows 30 days for the Soldier to send the information.

If time goes on and the individual has not made any payments on their debts, they will receive a statement of reason. According to Alleyne, the statement of reason is a deeper level. When this letter is sent, it usually tells the individual if they do not address the items about the debts and how they will pay them off, their security clearance can be taken, denied or not renewed.  At that point, the Soldier is given a certain amount of time to show that he or she paid their creditor or set up a payment plan.

Alleyne said in some cases, service members and Soldiers feel as though they can handle all of their debts. In other cases, their security officers will refer that civilian or Soldier to Alleyne.

“In the initial sit down, I listen first and ask a lot of questions,” Alleyne said. “It may seem intrusive in the beginning, but in order for me to provide you with the proper answer and the correct information, I need information.”

He said he asks clients for documentation to get a complete picture of the situation.

His next step–– go over the individual’s budget with them while providing budget counseling.

He said he inquires about their monthly income: whether there are two incomes in the home and what the spending plan is.   He often tells them to bring their Leave and Earnings Statement, the last three months of their banking statement and any financial statements of debt they have for the initial sit-down.

Fixing the Problem

Alleyne said the answers to those questions bring him closer to how to chip away at the debt.

From this point, he said he gets a visual representation of where unnecessary spending is–additions to cellphone bills or eating out  frequently.

Next, the client and Alleyne look to see if if there is a surplus or a deficit. For example, a surplus is when, after all bills and debts are paid, how much money is left. A deficit happens when no money is left over. It means one is spending more than they have coming in, Alleyne said. If there is a surplus, it is sufficient enough to pay off debts.

“This is where strategy comes in,” he said. “If there is a surplus, attack the debt. If there is a deficit, create a surplus. This is when people tell me they are up for promotion or take on a part-time job like Uber.”

 He said of clients who are not able to get an extra job or receive a promotion, “This is when the client says, “Maybe I can cut back.”’

At this stage, with the surplus of money, they create a plan to pay off each debt, contact the creditor and address all items that will be paid off either in full or in payments, he said.  Alleyne said he provides information to the client’s security officer on all that they discussed during the counseling session.

“The final step is the monthly checkups I do with the client to see if they are on the right path,” he said.

Alleyne said it is important to reach out to a financial advisor before debts threaten security clearances and the job. He said he is there for debt prevention and financial education, as well as financial workshops, financial counseling and other budgeting services.

Financial readiness providers outside the gate provide the same services for a fee,” Alleyne said. “My service to the military community is free.”

For more information, contact Alleyne at (703) 696-3177. He is located in the Army Community Services building.

Pentagram Staff Writer Katrina Wilson can be reached at kmoses@dcmilitary.com.