USO class teaches Marines finance skills

27 Feb 2014 | Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Young service members have many pitfalls to avoid if they want a sound financial future.

For Lance Cpl. Leilani Montanio, a warehouse clerk with 2nd Supply Battalion, and many Marines like her, starting the road to a smart financial future meant learning about money from top finance professionals at the USO of North Carolina in Jacksonville, Feb. 27.

Inexperience with money and a fear of being burdened by debt in the future were among the primary issues that concerned Montanio, who at 21 years old, is still learning about different aspects of financial literacy. 

The workshop, Strong, Safe and Secure – Money Skills for Military Personnel, helped her and her peers learn about cash flow, debt management, savings, credit and financial legal matters.

Montanio worried about providing for a family in the future and buying a home, but the class taught her new things about building credit and fixing credit report issues.

The workshop offered more than classroom instruction for participants. The Marines received books with financial information, two online courses, credit report assistance, as well as, a 15 minute consultation with a financial expert.

Many young Marines have families and other responsibilities, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Childs, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of 2nd Supply’s Supply Management Unit.

“They need these classes,” he added.

The class provided his Marines an opportunity to see where they stood financially and plan to make improvements, he said.

Financial issues such as a forgotten bill, credit problems or poor savings plans can impact a Marine’s career, family and lifestyle, said John Falkenbury, the president of the North Carolina USO.

“If you don’t have financial security, it causes unrest,” said Falkenbury. “Money drives how you live.”

The instructors of the class, Hallie Hawkins, a lawyer with more than 20 years of experience with finance and other related industries, and Shay Prosser, a financial advisor with more than 12 years of experience with financial planning, looked to change the way participants thought about finances.

The instructors wanted to help service members think creatively about finances and lay the groundwork for them to move forward, said Hawkins.

“Your choices today can limit or expand your opportunities,” she added.

The class reinforces the financial help offered on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, such as Marine Corps Community Services’ Taking Control of Your Finances and Navy Marine Corps Relief Society’s financial assistance and counseling. It was the first class of its type hosted by the USO, and it’s one they hope to bring back quarterly for military communities throughout North Carolina.

“It was an amazing class to attend,” said Montanio.

For more information about programs offered at the USO of North Carolina in Jacksonville, call 455-3411. For more information about financial services offered aboard Camp Lejeune, visit


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