Military and Debt – Too Much Debt Can Ruin Your Military Career

Some links below are from our sponsors. Here’s how we make money.

Advertiser Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone. This article may contain links from our advertisers. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

default sharing image
Military and debt don’t mix. Anyone who is serving in the military needs to be aware of how debt can negatively affect their military career. Most people by now should understand that the military will pull a credit report on anyone who is applying for a security clearance and that the security clearance can be…

Military and debt don’t mix. Anyone who is serving in the military needs to be aware of how debt can negatively affect their military career.

Most people by now should understand that the military will pull a credit report on anyone who is applying for a security clearance and that the security clearance can be denied if the person is carrying too high of a debt load.

If your MOS (job) depends on obtaining that clearance and it is denied, you could be involuntarily re-classed into a different job that doesn’t require a clearance… hope you like cooking if that is your situation!

What some people don’t know is that you can actually be discharged from the military for too much debt.

I saw it happen to a Desert Storm vet back when I was a private in 1999. Once the Commander got the letter of indebtedness, and it was determined the soldier couldn’t pay it, they proceeded to revoke his security clearance for it.

Since our MOS required a Secret level clearance, he had the choice of being involuntarily re-classed into a new career field or receive an Article 15 for displaying patterns of misconduct.

He could have also received an Administration Discharge if he continued to show the same patterns of misconduct. He chose separation over becoming a cook.

 

Years later, as a Sergeant, I had to write one of my soldiers up for being in debt that he couldn’t pay. I had to take him to a budgeting class since the bad debt was a repossessed car, and he ended up with extra duty and a repayment plan drafted up by our Commander.

Anyone who has ever served knows that the military pay is less than generous when compared to the civilian equivalent.

So it becomes imperative to operate your household on a budget in light of the negative consequences of debt!

Military and Debt Regulation: Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

Here is the excerpt of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This is the same Article that the specialist was discharged under, and that I wrote up my soldier for:

Article 134 – (Debt, dishonorably failing to pay)

Elements:

(1) That the accused was indebted to a certain person or entity in a certain sum;

(2) That this debt became due and payable on or about a certain date;

(3) That while the debt was still due and payable the accused dishonorably failed to pay this debt; and

(4) That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Explanation: More than negligence in nonpayment is necessary. The failure to pay must be characterized by deceit, evasion, false promises, or other distinctly culpable circumstances indicating a deliberate nonpayment or grossly indifferent attitude to-ward one’s just obligations.

For a debt to form the basis of this offense, the accused must not have had a defense, or an equivalent offset or counterclaim, either in fact or according to the accused’s belief, at the time alleged. The offense should not be charged if there was a genuine dispute between the parties as to the facts or law relating to the debt which would affect the obligation of the accused to pay.

The offense is not committed if the creditor or creditors involved are satisfied with the conduct of the debtor with respect to payment. The length of the period of nonpayment and any denial of indebtedness which the accused may have made may tend to prove that the accused’s conduct was dishonorable, but the court-martial may convict only if it finds from all of the evidence that the conduct was in fact dishonorable.

Lesser included offenses: None.

Maximum punishment: Bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months.

As you can see, excessive debt can have a severe impact on your career. It will also have a negative impact on your personal life. But debt is only part of the total picture when it comes to your security clearance and background check.

Your Security Clearance Background Check Looks at More than Just Debt

Your credit report is often included in your background check when you apply for a security clearance or apply for a new job. Why your credit report a consideration for a security clearance, or in a job search? Here are some reasons your amount of debt and your credit report can impact your background check:

Security Clearance Background Check

Your credit report is a sign if your trustworthiness. If you will be working with sensitive information, or if you are in a position where you are handling money, the government or another employer wants to know whether or not your poor financial situation would make you vulnerable to bribe attempts.

If you have a lot of debt, there is the concern that you would be willing to sell classified or proprietary information, or that you might embezzle funds that you are overseeing.

Reducing Behaviors to Numbers

Your credit report is often considered a direct reflection of the financial risk you represent to an employer, lender, or other entity. Every day, employers, insurers, lenders, cell phone providers, and others make decisions about who they think will be reliable based on information in your credit report. It’s not personal.

These organizations simply crunch the numbers and base their decisions on the law of averages. The way to get that in your favor is to increase your credit score.

Action Steps – How to Control Your Debt and Improve Your Credit Report

The amount of debt you have and your credit report aren’t necessarily directly related. But one can impact the other. When you are applying for a security clearance, your entire background will be reviewed, not just your financial risk.

How to get out of debt quickly:

  • Create a list of all your debts (credit cards, car loans, mortgages, student loans, medical bills, and anything else you may have).
  • Organize the information. List the minimum amount due on each payment, along with the interest rate.
  • Create a repayment schedule, starting by paying the minimum on all loans except the one with the highest interest rate. Note: Some people prefer to start with the loan with the lowest balance, to pay that off more quickly, so they can direct that payment toward the next lowest balance. This is called a debt snowball and is another excellent way to pay off debt quickly.
  • Repeat this process until you have paid off most, or all, or your loans.
  • You can find more detail in this guide to getting out of debt quickly.

How to manage your credit score:

  • Start with a copy of your credit report. Here is how to get a free copy of your credit report each year. Credit reports are critical to understanding what your credit score actually means.
  • Next, get copies of your credit scores. Credit reports and scores are different – the report is like a report card, with a list of all open accounts, and any negative actions. The score is a numerical representation of your report. Here is how to get a free credit score. Credit scores change regularly, and with a free credit tool, you can get regular updates any time your score changes, with feedback on your scores.
  • Correct any errors on your credit report. Identity theft is an unfortunate occurrence, one that can hit your credit score hard. Mistakes also happen with reporting, and if you don’t correct them, they’ll seriously hurt your score. Make sure your score is accurate and work to amend any errors you find ASAP.
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service to track your progress. You don’t have to hound the credit bureaus every time you need more information. With a credit monitoring tool, you can get tips and updates. Two free options are Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.

Get Your Score from Credit Karma

How to repair your credit:

Pay all bills on time

Get up to date on all bills. Next, continue making all payments on time, every time. Finally, pay off your loans, and try not to take out new loans, rack up more debt, or open new accounts. All of those actions can have a negative impact on your credit score in the short term.

Pay off your overdue accounts

Every day your overdue accounts remain unpaid, your credit score is affected. Drill down on the past due accounts to improve your overall score.

Pick a budgeting method and stick to it

How you choose to budget isn’t as important as your willingness to stick with the plan. Track every single dollar and be sure to factor in your emergency fund, savings, essentials, and non-essential purchases. Having a plan in place will help you maintain your debt repayment strategy. And if there is ever any excess money, you can apply it to your credit repair goals as well.

Shop with credit cards

When used responsibly, a credit card can be one of the keys to unlocking financial freedom. With rewards, low interest, and debt-transfer options, credit cards can help you prove to the credit bureaus that you can utilize credit sensibly, which will have a major impact on your score.

Tweak your credit card use

There are some practical ways to boost your score with credit cards beyond simply making payments on time. Your credit score considers credit ratios as well as how many lines of credit you have open. With that in mind, you can boost your score by increasing the credit limit on a card or by opening more credit card accounts. Again, use these cards responsibly and make sure you can keep track of your spending with each one.

Hold on to your old cards

Closing out a credit card can lower your score. Again, bureaus want to see your credit card use over time. Even if you aren’t regularly using a card, you might want to keep it open to help your score. If you need to toss one of your cards, make it the most recent card to keep your score where you want it.

Use credit repair services

If you need a little help repaying your debts, there are a host of credit repair companies who will work to consolidate your debts and help you repair your credit score. A few popular companies to consider are:

Consider credit repair software

Much like a robo-advisor manages your investments, this type of software handles your credit repair online. You get the service of a credit repair company without ever leaving home. These services are an affordable tool to help you meet your credit goals.

Following these steps will put you in a better financial position, and also make it easier for you to be approved for a security clearance or other background check.

This is a guest post from Ana, the author of the blog Debt-Free Revolution. Ana is “an Army wife, an Iraq veteran, a college student, a mom, family CFO, and a “Pizza Delivery Expert” a.k.a. a Domino’s pizza delivery driver to get her family out of the chain of debt!”

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

Posted In:

About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave A Comment:

    Comments:

    About the comments on this site:

    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Ryan says

    Lynnae,

    The military takes the actions of its members very seriously, and poor financial health is not only a bad reflection on the military, but it can hinder operational readiness as well.

    Personal financial problems can get in the way of deployments and troop movements, because the military will not usually send someone where they are needed if there is legal action against them.

  2. Ryan says

    Hi Pinyo,

    Punishment and getting kicked out of the military is really a worst case scenario. Most supervisors and military leaders try to work with their troops before disciplinary action is taken. However, sometimes the situation is just too far out of control to be dealt with.

    The military does try to provide education and financial training, but in my opinion, it is limited at best.

  3. Mario says

    According to the post excessive debt is punishable by UCMJ but what if the debt was caused by entering military service. If the situation is to far out of control and you make every effort to pay is it still considered dishonorable and subject to discharge?

  4. Ryan says

    Mario, Yes, excessive debt is still punishable by the UCMJ, even if it was caused by your entering into military service. The best recommendation I can give you is to try to get on top of things as soon as possible. If you aren’t able to cover your debts, I would begin talking with your supervisor and First Sergeant ASAP. The sooner you get them involved, the more willing they will be to work with your situation. Good luck, and thanks for serving.

  5. Nick says

    I work at a bank in the loan dept.,and I have a customer who took out a loan to purchase a vehicle. He stopped paying for the vehicle and it was reposessed. I tried to explain to him the remaining balance after the vehicle was sold. At first he pretended to have interest in the repayment to make good with the bank. Now he flat out refuses to repay the loan saying that he feels he shouldnt have to pay this back. After looking over his file, I found out he was in the U.S Army. He completely refuses to cooperate and now he doesnt even answer his phone, Im guessing he is screening his calls to avoid discussing his bill.
    Is there any way to find out who his supervisor or commanding officer is if they are refusing to put forth efforts in repayment of funds borrowed. What would be the best way to report this kind of negative behavior? to whom would this be of concern?
    Thank you
    Nick

  6. Ryan says

    Nick,

    I would start by sending a certified letter to him to have that on file and inform him he is legally responsible for the remaining balance of the loan and this is negatively affecting his credit (though I’m sure this has been done). You may also let him know that if he doesn’t comply you will bring this to the attention of base authorities. Keep in mind, his commander can order him to pay it, but I’m not sure he can legally force him to pay it. But the commander can enforce military punishment, which may concince the soldier to pay.

    On his loan paperwork, check to see it he listed his unit, brigade, or any other information regarding which organization he is in. If he did, go on the internet and find the number to that unit’s First Sergeant or commanding officer and give them a call (start with the First Sergeant).

    As I mentioned, this won’t guarantee results, but it will get you in the right direction. Good luck.

  7. Jarhead says

    Unfortunately I am faced with Marines unable to pay debt on if not a daily at least a monthly basis. In my 13 years I have had 2 Marines both grossly in debt. One consistently used multiple check cashing (pay day advance) places and would be overdrawn on his account 2 days after payday and the other constantly just overdrafts his account in excess of $400 dollars between paychecks. I did all I could for these guys to include taking care of their finances for them. Hopefully they have gotten better and can become productive citizens once they are out.

  8. Jagdog says

    Just correcting one fact in your narrative…

    There is no such thing as being “separated under Article 134 (UCMJ)”. Article 134 is the general punitive article in the MCM, Manual for Courts-Martial. It is used in Article 15s.

    You’re thinking of when a Soldier is chaptered out of the military, or Administratively Separated. If the Soldier has enough misconduct, i.e. they have failed to repay SEVERAL debts and have established a pattern of doing so no matter what the unit did to help them, then they could be chaptered under Chapter 14-12(b): Pattern of Misconduct. This is out of AR 635-200, Administrative Separations.

  9. Matt says

    Im looking to join the military and i an still paying my car loan off. i still owe around 5 grand. would that be ok if i joined and just continued to pay or would i have to pay that off first?

    • Ryan says

      Matt, you don’t have to be debt free when you join the military, but you may not be able to join if you are in the process of a bankruptcy or other legal proceeding. The main issues the military has with debt come when the military members either choose not to pay their debts, or are simply not able to because they have too much debt. There shouldn’t be a problem joining the military when you have a car loan that is almost paid off.

  10. anon says

    Hi,

    My husband is a CPO and is currently in NRD San Francisco as a recruiter. He pretty much abandoned me 6 mths ago, left with no avail. He left all debts, house, responsibilities. His main reason was that I never got along with his daughter. I was dumb founded after he left me so I searche for reasons why would he leave his life in LA. So I found out he has been lying to me. He has a mistress, I discovered emails. Then I saw pix on facebook with another woman. Then I found out he has an escort service accounts, browsing through adult websites. So he has not contacted me or anything about our debts. He felt kinda guilty and started giving me 500/mth..But we are in so much debt that it was not even enough. I lost our home, car, and now I’m being sued for our debts. I just want to know if I can take legal action against him? Who should I contact?

  11. Pat S. says

    Those scores are indeed important. As a military member, I’ve seen people lose their security clearance and subsequently their jobs because of poor credit.

  12. krantcents says

    As a former CFO, a credit report is important for anyone who handles money, management responsibility, and security. In other words, everyone!

  13. mercy says

    hi i just have a question, my husband is in the army. and he owes money from a relative. now they were trying to contact my husbands unit to get it over with, but for now we are in financial trouble because the army is taking away money from us from an advance pay we owe. now can my husband get in trouble and get kicked out cz we cant pay there relatives in time? and he owes like 4G .. thanks

    • Ryan says

      Mercy, your husband most likely won’t get kicked out of the military for being late on a loan – getting kicked out is usually reserved for the worst cases. but that doesn’t mean he will avoid any repercussions. My recommendation is to contact your husband’s family and work out a payment arrangement that will repay them the money your husband borrowed and still work with your bills. It’s good for his career and more importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

  14. Casey says

    Not completely on topic, but kind of…
    My son’s father owe’s child support to me (he is currently over $20K in arrears due to not paying until it was court ordered when our son was already 2 years old) and it has been taken directly from his military retirement pay…until this month. I just found out from DFAS that his pay is currently suspended, but they won’t tell me why since we are no longer married. Said it could be due to government debt, being unable to locate him (him never informing them of change of address), or many other things. What can I do? I need the money to pay for my son’s incidentals. There is an established court order requiring him to pay and that is how the deduction from pay began. If they have suspended his pay due to paying back other debts, shouldn’t the primary concern for the government be for the welfare of his child? Who should I contact? What should I do? I am so lost at this point…HELP!

  15. Yazy says

    My sister joined the Air Force six months ago and just completed boot camp and now 2 weeks ago she went to her base. She owes $100,000 in student loans. She called Wells Fargo to consolidate and she was told she would need a co-signer.I don’t know what to do, I’m 30 years old and I only make 27,000 a year, I have good credit but I barely get by. The problem is my sister told me if she doesn’t get it consolidated she will get kicked out of the Air force.Is this true?

    • Ryan says

      Yazy, It’s tough to say whether or not you sister would get kicked out of the military for student loan debt. Debt issues must be extreme for a military member to be kicked out of the service and they are handled on a case by case basis. I cannot recommend cosigning on a loan because doing so also makes you responsible for the loan. Should your sister default on the loan, you would be legally liable for the rest of the loan, and $100,000 in debt would be crushing and could potentially damage your finances for decades (student loans cannot be relieved via bankruptcy). Here are some military student loan forgiveness programs which your sister may or may not be eligible for. She should also look into the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act which could potentially help her lower her interest rates on her student loans, and she should also investigate student loan deferment programs which may help ease the burden right now, though it will not eliminate the loans entirely.

  16. SAL says

    Several years ago I went through a divorce and the agreement was that the home would go to my ex wife. I am still on the note but it is required that she make two attempts per year to re-finance. Now that she is moving and is having issues with the home she has stated to me that she is just going to let it go. It is going to greatly ruin my credit. The divorce decree does state that she is responsible for payments on the house and everything associated with it as it was awarded to her. Can her 1st Sgt or Commander enforce a garnishment of wages from her? This happened once before with one of the vehicles she was awarded and she refused to make payments and they enforced the payment. If so does anyone have any air force regulations associated with this?

    • Ryan says

      Hi SAL, I don’t have a solid answer for you. I highly recommend getting a lawyer to work with you on this case, as it could have major implications on your credit and financial future. Best of luck.

  17. shannon says

    My boyfriend , and I have discussed marriage seriously. However this was before now. He just started A school for Nukes, and we weren’t looking into getting married right this moment. We both wanted to finish school first, and every thing, but I’m worried if my debt from doctors bills, might effect his security clearance. I need to pay the debt any way, but should I rush this and ask for help from him and my parents? I mean would this actually kill our chances of getting married? I realize it’s my fault for letting this get as bad as it is, but I don’t want to have him lose out on a good finacialy stable job and life over my mistakes.

  18. king says

    when i was younger i got my first bank card when i ran out of money i gave the card to my mother to hold for me until i got another job and could continue to put money in the account. She used my card mistakenly and ran up a few hundred dollars in overdraft fees. My account was subsequently closed out and I never got the oppotunity to pay the bank off before this happened. In total i would say i owe less then a 500 dollars and no collection agencies have ever been in contact with me. The only reason i even found out about this is because when i tryed to add money to the account the atm told my my account had been closed. I then proceeded to talk with the teller who told me i couldn’t reopen my account with there bank even if i were to pay them back for the full amount. Im worried that this will keep me from getting my security clearance for my mos in the army can you please give me your thoughts on the matter. thank you

    • Ryan says

      Joseph, The military does a thorough background check, and one mark against your credit won’t necessarily prevent you from receiving a security clearance. The military is concerned with people whose finances are in such a poor condition that it is a red flag. For example, people who cannot afford to pay their bills each month might be more likely to sell state secrets so they can meet their bills. Just be truthful when filling out the questionnaire and in any interviews and see where it leads. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  19. amber says

    my husband is in the air force he has been in for 3 years now we were two months behind on are 07 dodge charger srt8 due to family illness and death. we contacted the bank to inform them we would pay them back with our tax return on feb 10.the bank came and picked it up on feb 25 , we had not yet received our taxes but made one full payment to them feb1.since they picked it up they plan to auction it in 10 days. of course we will have to pay the remaining balance we owe 25,150. my husband informed his first shirt of the issue, due to the bank not informing first shirt its not taken official yet. We are waiting for the auction to see what the remaining balance is. We plan to pay it and have 1000 saved to due so. we are very concerned though that with all the role backs that he will now be in hot water and may not pass his security clearance and wont be able to re-enlist. we are looking for advice

    • Ryan Guina says

      Amber, the best advice I can give you right now is to have your husband visit with his First Sergeant and try to set up some financial counseling for the two of you. Most bases offer something via the family center or MWR. Just having some debt isn’t always enough to deny a security clearance, even with a repossessed car or other bad mark on your credit. If your family is able to meet your remaining financial obligations and you are working on improving your finances, then those actions will go a long way toward being able to remain in the military. Right now the best thing you and your husband can do is begin working on ways to improve your finances.

  20. Damarise says

    How is it that a soldier can get away with not paying the full amount of child support, in which the court determined as fair based on the income of both parties? Are there any reprocussions that a soldier faces when he is over $10,000 behind in child support payments?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Damarise, if there is a court order, then the soldier is legally required to pay the amount. I recommend contacting the attorney who represented you in the initial proceedings. If the soldier is found to be in arrears, then it may be possible to have wages garnished or have an allotment set up which will automatically send the correct amount of money from the paycheck each month before it is sent to the military member. But in most cases you will need the soldier to either set this up voluntarily, or get a court order for it to happen.

  21. Dre says

    I am on Navy DEP and will leave soon on July i filed bankruptcy this April due to failed business venture and bills/credit catch on us we basically living on paycheck to paycheck . I informed this to my recruiter my court date is on May an will wait to get discharged of all my debt. If i go to bootcamp will i be discharged eventjought i told my recruiter and put it in our records? My rating or job doesnt need security clearance. I am trying to fix this before i ship out.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Dre, having a bankruptcy doesn’t automatically preclude you from military service. If it is in your record, then you have done everything you can to make the military aware of your situation. Hopefully you will be able to start a fresh way of life in the military. Best of luck in your military career!

  22. Candice says

    I have a friend who is a PFC combat engineer for the marines and has recently gotten in trouble for trying to help his mom pay some of her rent, his higher ups keep telling him that he and his mom are greedy and that they will punish him if he gets into debt for helping her. I just wanted to know what kind of punishment would they do if he would go into debt?

    • Ryan Guina says

      I don’t see how it makes him greedy to try and help someone, but that is neither here, nor there. To answer your question, debt in and of itself is not generally a problem if you are in the military. The problem happens when it interferes with what the military refers to as “readiness” or the ability to be ready to meet all military obligations at a moment’s notice. Debt becomes a problem if it interferes with his ability to make his normal payments on everything else, if he is constantly borrowing money to make ends meet (payday loans, or credit cards), starts bouncing checks, or if it causes undue stress or other problems (such as not being able to get to work because of a vehicle repossession, getting kicked out of an apartment for non-payment, etc.).

  23. Deborah says

    hi, I’m in the army and right now I’m in AIT and I’m in debt about $800.00 and I wanted to know what could I do to get out of that, like who could I go and see and talk to, and will I get punished for this debit because it was an accident?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Deborah, you shouldn’t get in trouble for having $800 in debt unless you neglect to make your payments and it interferes with your ability to perform your job. In general, it’s not bad to have debt while in the military. The problem comes when you owe too much money and are unable to meet your monthly obligations, or you stop making payments. As long as you make your payments on time, there shouldn’t be any problems with your current loan situation.

  24. shaner says

    So during my deployments as a medic in the army I trusted my then still wife with bills etc. To make a long story short, she ran up about 21,000$ in debt and never paid anything. I had no idea what was going on until it was WAY too late. Of course everything was in my name. Calls came to her phone, and she hid mail. I had good credit until then that’s why she was able to go so high. Im paying off debts 1 by 1 but it’s slow going. I still have a couple major accounts in collections, but how will that effect me. Its time to renew my security clearance… As stated, I have been paying off debts 1 by 1 because I simply cannot afford to pay on everything at the same time. I have no equity, so a debt consolidation loan is out of the question.

  25. John says

    Has anyone ever delt with child support issues, where courts base the service members child support so high b/c of including all military benefits where it exceeds 50% of base pay, and due to that, soldier is not able to pay bills.

    • Ryan Guina says

      John, I haven’t dealt with this. My recommendation is to consult with a lawyer or your base legal department to go over the child support ruling to ensure they are correctly calculating your income that can be used for child support purposes.

  26. Chrys says

    I have a question. If you have a car loan and find out before you go into debit can give to the bank. Would that have any affect on your military career

  27. Renee' says

    I have a debt with 1 student loan for $1000 and I owe the bank $194 but I don’t have no credit card, and I owe my phone bill will I still be able to enlist?

    • Ryan Guina says

      A small debt should not be a problem when enlisting or getting a commission. It is a good idea, however, to be current on all payments before trying to enlist. Best of luck.

  28. Kristie says

    I have a retired Navy personnel who wrote me a bad check for $1700.00. She has made two payments towards the bad check and has promised to make other payments that she has not been making. I am tired of giving her chances to take care of this and her not making good on the arrangements. What do I need to do to collect the rest of this money.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Kristie, because this person is no longer serving in the military, the military has no involvement whatsoever. You will need to take the same course of action you would for collecting any debt. I have never had to collect a debt from someone, but I imagine there is some legal course of action you will need to take, such as contacting a lawyer or filing a claim in court. Of course, just sending a certified letter stating the legal basis for the debt and mentioning that you will file a claim in court or report the debt to the credit bureaus may be enough to get the person to make the payment.

  29. Gregory Thomas says

    I am currently in the process of joining the Air Force and I have a closed credit card sent to collections for $944. Will this prevent me from joining the Air Force?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Gregory, one poor mar on your credit may not prevent you from joining the Air Force, but it can hurt you if there are other marks on your application. My recommendation is to get this taken care of ASAP. This will show that you have made mistakes, but also taken actions to correct them. Best of luck in your AF career!

  30. mimi says

    Question: My ex husband is asking for help because he owes 40,000 in arrears and he has a car loan.

    He said his security clearance and work is affecting this arrears. It this true that his career in the military is affecting his debts. Can he get in to trouble in the military about his Credit? And he recently got married. I don’t understand how he will provide financial support for 2 families. He owes Child support 40,000. Plus his other loans that he accumulated. Can they revoke his security clearance and cause problem to reenlist in July 2014?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Mimi, it is possible his debt could cause problems with his security clearance, and if his security clearance is revoked it could cause problems with his ability to reenlist. He should seek help to reorganize his debts. The best place to go is a non-profit credit counseling service. They will help him understand his situation and give him options and a course of action to follow. Best of luck.

  31. Charina Manalo says

    Thank you. What about the child support arrears for 41,000 plus 21,000 for his car loan and other credit cards they could help him pay for it.

    hes a corpsman he said he cant even get a passport for his child support arrears. Can those nonprofit pay the child support arrears too?

    Hes reenlistment is on July.

    • Ryan Guina says

      The military won’t help him pay his loans. He will need to pay his loans from his salary. The non-profit credit counseling services will only help him manage his debt payments and set up a plan to repay his debts. He will need to find a way to pay them on from his salary, or possibly declare bankruptcy if that is an option. However, bankruptcy may not be a good solution and most likely wouldn’t do anything for his child support debts or possibly other debts (depending on the situation). This is a situation that needs some individual attention, and isn’t something someone can give much more information on without speaking to him and determining the extent of his debts, his income, and other factors. If your interest is based on money he owes you, then I suggest you work out a way to meet with him to discuss this situation.

  32. Francisco says

    I will join the Navy this summer, and I owe $12,000 in my credit card. I been making my payments on time and everything. My mom is the one that owes all that money really so she will be making the payments. Would there be a problem with me joining the Navy if I owe that much money even though they payments will continue to be made?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Francisco, $12,000 isn’t necessarily too much debt. The military considers how much debt you have and your income, and looks to see if it is manageable or not. It may take awhile to pay it off, but you should be able to do it on a military salary. This shouldn’t be much of a problem.

  33. Cindy says

    I am currently trying to join the navy, and have held back from taking my asvab test due to being unsure if I’m eligible to join.
    I do not have a criminal history, but I did get into a car accident, and currently getting sued for about 14,000.
    I’m unaware if this can disqualify me from joining?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Cindy, you should be able to process your application up to a point. But you will not be able to join the military until all civil actions are resolved. What you can do is speak with a recruiter and get the process started. Then you would be able to join the military once you have resolved this legal issue. Joining the military can take several months, depending on the situation, so it may not be a bad idea to get started now. Then you will be able to join more quickly once your legal situation is resolved. Best of luck!

  34. Gregory says

    Just wanted to update everyone and let you all know that I have officially enlisted and will be shipping out on October 27th into the army. Keep working hard and stay persistent and everything will work out. God bless

  35. Dan says

    Here is a doozy for you. I have 3 children from a prior marriage and 1 bankruptcy also from that marriage. I pay child support. I have since remarried and had another child. This marriage is solid. The only problem is that we are now filing for bankruptcy as well. My wife is military now, soon retiring. I am in the process of joining the Navy. Will two bankruptcies and a child support order potentially keep me out? I don’t know why but I am sweating it. If it was meant to be, it will happen. Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Dan, having a bankruptcy can certainly be a red flag when applying for the military, but it won’t necessarily exclude you from joining. The big issue is how it might affect your ability to obtain a security clearance, which many jobs require. All I can tell you is to contact a recruiter and try to apply. You won’t know until you apply. Just be sure to answer all questions correctly, as lying on the entrance paperwork can get you into trouble. Best of luck!

  36. bre says

    My cousin joined the military (army reserve) and upon doing so got a bonus. She completed only 25 weeks of the contract and decided she didn’t want to drill anymore because she couldn’t complete her pt test. So now she’s in debt with the military bc of the bonus and general discharged. Shes still young and hates she made that bad decision bc she wasn’t aware of the consequences. Is it possible for her to file bankruptcy bc she know she won’t be able to pay it back or make payments bc the balance is big.

  37. Andrea says

    Hi im joining the Navy and I just want to know if I can be denied my financial waiver because I am in 11000 in debt.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Andrea, you will need to speak with your recruiter about this – I can’t answer specific questions about amounts of debt, because each situation is unique. $11,000 of debt doesn’t seem to be excessive, though. So work with your recruiter, and see if you can get a waiver to get in. Best of luck!

  38. Dana says

    Does anyone know if my husband and I entering into a debt settlement program would prevent him from enlisting in the Navy? If not, could it affect him in the long term down the road for any reason?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Dana, each situation is unique. The best thing to do here is speak with a recruiter – the recruiter should have a better idea of how this would affect both short- and long-term prospects for joining the military, and how it might affect his ability to obtain a security clearance (which is the most common thing affected by debt problems). Best of luck!

  39. Arielle says

    I lost my job while 9 months pregnant and then my husband lost his job too. I was able to get back to work after the baby but not for as much pay and have been unable to pay alot of my debt. I am now interested in enlistment. I was trying to figure out if it was better to contact all the companies I individually or to do debt consolidation.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Arielle, I’m sorry to hear about your situation, and I hope things continue to turn around. I’m not certain how a debt consolidation record will look on your record if you try to join the military (the military will do a full background check as part of your security clearance). I would contact a recruiter and ask what he/she recommends. At the minimum, the recruiter will likely recommend that you are current on all your (caught up with everything that was past due, and are making at least the minimum payments on all current debts). So I would start by trying to get caught up, and by asking a recruiter which action is the best to take. Best of luck!

  40. Tj says

    I’ve been in the guard for 8 months now and have been back in the civilian world for about 2. I just took a job that pays ok but not enough to pay my monthly bills. Im trying to get a second full time job or at least a a part time job to make the payments. I’ve put out 5 applications and going to do more. I’m not sure what to do because I feel like having the guard job is preventing me from getting a second job. I’m not sure what to do. I’m going to talk to my training nco but it feels like I’m in a no win situation with the guard if it’s affecting my civilian job this bad. What can I do?

  41. Gill says

    I am a civilian business owner and a wife of a soldier hired my services and has not payed and refuses to pay, I am prior military and told him I was going to contact his command to maybe spark some initiative to no avail, I gave them more than enough time and resources to pay and I got every excuse known to man and he told me to go F myself, so no more nice guy. He is coming across as invincible, he’s only been in a little over a year. I want my money, can his command lean on him or what will or be consequences?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Gill, it sounds like you have done everything in your power to handle this correctly on your end. You can try contacting the service member’s command. But you mentioned it was the wife that hired you, not the Soldier. So I don’t know how much the Command can or will do under those circumstances. I would start by sending a certified letter stating the amount owed and give a reasonable time frame to respond (that way you have proof of sending the receipt). After that you can contact the command or turn it over to collections. I wish you the best of luck getting this resolved.

  42. Mark says

    Nick:
    I have a question. Can’t find the answer anywhere. Have a Civilian that took out an installment loan on a vehicle, in March of 2016. He lied on his application. As far as income and work . Exactly one month later, April, is is active with the Marine Reserves. Financial institution had no idea, and he made one payment before he got in. Does the government protect the rights of sinners before they enter the service? Under SCRA? Your insight would greatly be appreciated.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Mark, I don’t know much about falsifying records to obtain a loan. That is something you would need to speak with your company lawyer about.

      If the member is making all payments in full and on time, it’s probably not a big deal. And hopefully they will pay the loan in full. If they are not making payments, then you should certainly report this to the credit bureaus. You should also contact the member to try to work out a payment plan or other arrangements, if possible. After all, they still have a legal obligation to fulfill their end of the contract they signed.*

      That said, be careful before initiating a repossession. From what I have read, lenders must obtain a court order before attempting to repossess a vehicle when the loan was made prior to the service member joining the military. So I recommend consulting with your company lawyer or a lawyer experienced with the SCRA before trying to repossess the car. Failure to do so can lead to criminal actions against the lender or other problems. Better to research this and follow the letter of the law.

      *The SCRA does require lenders to decrease interest rates on certain loans entered into before the member joined the military to no more than 6% (no adjustment is necessary if the interest rate is already at or lower than 6%).

  43. Ollie says

    Hello! I am in the process of getting in the Air Force. I had my credit pulled. I had no clue I had so much credit card debt – roughly $16k. Turns out my mother took out a few credit cards in my name and charged them up without my knowledge. Very few payments have been missed. I know I need a waiver and we plan on paying half of it down with income tax refund. Besides that my background is squeaky clean. There a couple of jobs that require Sercret that I am interested in but the majority of my top picks require TS. Do you think I will be ok?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Ollie, you need to have a serious discussion with your mother about what she has done to you and your finances.

      Now that you know about this, you have an obligation to take care of it – that means you can either assume the debt as your own and take responsibility for it, or you can work with your mother to have the debt transferred to her name. If you don’t have a good relationship with your mother, or she refuses to take responsibility, then you may have to resort to legal methods, such as filing a police report for stolen identity and contacting the credit card companies to inform them of the issue. (Filing a police report could have a serious legal impact on your mother, so be aware of this).

      I won’t presume to tell you how to handle this, as I don’t know your situation or your relationship with your mother. But I would assume that once you know about the charges on these credit cards, you are now responsible for them. That means you need to take action – either assuming the debt, or requesting your mother transfer the debts to her name.

      I also recommend freezing your credit to prevent your mother or anyone else from opening new accounts in your name. You can freeze your credit for free with each of the major credit bureaus. You will need to create a PIN to unfreeze your credit each time you need to open a credit account.

      Will this impact your ability to get a security clearance? I don’t know. $16,000 of debt sounds like a lot, but many people take out more than that to buy a car. So it’s not a major amount of debt. The bigger question is how that much debt fits in with your total financial picture. Can you reasonably afford to make the payments on those credit cards based on your income and other expenses? If so, then that amount of debt by itself likely isn’t too large to prevent you from being eligible for a security clearance.

Disclaimer: The content on this site is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not professional financial advice. References to third party products, rates, and offers may change without notice. Please visit the referenced site for current information. We may receive compensation through affiliate or advertising relationships from products mentioned on this site. However, we do not accept compensation for positive reviews; all reviews on this site represent the opinions of the author. Privacy Policy

Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.