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Advocacy in action blog

By Kevin Mayeux, NAIFA CEO

Leadership, confidence, adaptability, and integrity are traits possessed by veterans of U.S. military service and also skills that help insurance and financial professionals succeed in their careers. So, no one should be surprised that veterans very often make great agents and advisors.

Steven Saladino, LUTCF, of Principal Financial Group of Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., is just one example. Steve was a sergeant in the United States Army and a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, serving from 1986-1990. He is a NAIFA member and has been elected to serve on NAIFA’s Board of Trustees beginning in January 2020.

I recently asked Steve how his military service helped him with his current professional success.

During his service, Steve worked in the 82nd Airborne’s Finance and Accounting Department at Fort Bragg, N.C. This assignment, he said, provided on-the-job training and expertise and “allowed me to enter the financial services industry without a college degree.”But veterans have advantages even if their military training is not as neatly aligned with the financial profession as Steve’s. 

“There is tremendous opportunity in this industry no matter what job you had in the military,” Steve said. “All military personnel have skill sets that are transferable and very attractive to most employers I speak with. This is a great choice for a second career!”

And NAIFA is working to encourage and support veterans in that choice.

NAIFA Advocacy Boosts Veterans in the Industry

NAIFA is working with state insurance departments and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to promote a program under the GI Bill that compensates veterans in participating states up to $2,000 for the cost of taking insurance producer licensing exams. So, far, at least 36 states and the District of Columbia participate in the program. Five states – Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Tennessee, and Texas – are in the process of implementing veteran-reimbursement programs. NAIFA state affiliates and members have been instrumental in many of those states, encouraging insurance departments to participate. We have testified before the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in support of the VA program.

NAIFA is also working on behalf of Gold Star families as a strong advocate for the SECURE Act, bipartisan legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a 417-3 vote but has stalled in the Senate due to procedural matters and minor objections by three senators. The primary focus of the act is to expand opportunities for small businesses to provide retirement plans for their employees and encourage hundreds of thousands of workers to prepare for retirement.

But another provision in the SECURE Act is just as important. It would fix an unintended consequence of the 2017 federal tax reform law that raised taxes on survivor benefits paid by the U.S. government to the children of U.S. troops who died while on duty. This tax increase that penalizes Gold Star families was inadvertent. NAIFA strongly encourages the Senate to pas the SECURE Act and fix this legislative mistake.

Thank You to All of Our Veterans

Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to our men and women in uniform, and helping them transition to successful careers after they leave the service is just one way we can show our appreciation and help repay that debt.

NAIFA is very proud of the many veterans we have among our membership. On behalf of our staff, our Board of Trustees, and myself, I would like to wish you a very happy Veterans Day.