Financial counselors assist Airmen with mission readiness

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Airmen train year-round to ensure they have the technical, physical, and mental skills to ensure they are combat ready.

Being mission ready though deals with more than just the capacity to do one’s job; an Airman’s finances can have a huge impact on their ability to serve.

Just like a failing fitness score, a low credit score can also have a negative impact on an Airman’s career. If the situation is dire enough, it can impact their security clearance.

In 2022, 69% of appeals dealing with security clearance denials heard by the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals board dealt with financial considerations, according to Military Money.

“Financial readiness is mission readiness,” said Jennifer R. Belden, a contracted Personal Financial Counselor with the Keesler Air Force Base Military and Family Readiness program. “Financial literacy and financial planning are important. The security clearance program is the main reason this program exists.”

PFCs, such as Belden, are a free resource for all active, Guard and Reserve service members and their families. They can assist with financial basics, debt coaching, college saving, retirement planning, and budget and tax planning. 

“I love working with Airmen,” she said. “Some received financial education from their parents, others may not have, but they want to learn.”

Belden said many of her clients come to see her when their financial situation seems overwhelming and they need to reduce their debt. The issues she frequently deals with are due to the “swipe.”

“We go over the last 30 days of their swipes and add up each category so they can see where their money is going,” she said. “I try to help them regain control of their money because having control of your money gives a person a lot more freedom. Then they can make their choices versus letting a debit card make their choice.”

If a member has a lot of debt, she assists them with a spending plan to help reduce that debt, she said. However, she cautions servicemembers to be warry of debt consolidation loans, which are not always what they seem and can increase a person’s debt, decimate their credit and place their career in jeopardy.

“My goal is to help Airmen and their families develop individual strategies to achieve financial goals and maintain their financial well-being,” said Belden.

One way is to ensure they have a realistic budget, which according to Belden, is a 70-20-10 split.

“No more than 70 percent for living expenses, no more than 20 percent to debt, and at least 10 percent for savings, above what goes into Thrift Savings Plan, for emergencies,” she said. “A good goal is to have three to six months of emergency funds, but we start with small goals, taking baby steps so it’s not overwhelming.”

Belden also teaches classes at the Dragon University, Keesler’s Professional Development Council, but she can provide group presentations and workshops on a variety topics to include budgeting, goal setting, saving, credit management, debt management, purchasing a home or car, consumer awareness on investment scams, and TSP. Groups, commanders, service members and dependents can make an appointment by calling 228-213-0172, or emailing

In addition to the PFC, the Defense Department also provides financial information, training and counseling through other programs and services.

The Department of Defense Office of Financial Readiness, which provides financial literacy education to all servicemembers online at and through their free Sen$e app.

The base’s Military and Family Readiness Center at the Sablich Center, Room 110, offers personal financial readiness counseling. For more information call 228-376-8728.   Military OneSource also offers financial counseling assistance by phone or video chat. Airmen and their families can set up a time to meet with a financial counselor by live chatting or calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. For more information, visit:

Also, to assist spouses, there is the MilSpouse Money Mission, a financial education website dedicated to military spouses. For information, visit