CFP René Bruer was an active duty member of the Marine Corps for four years in the late 1990s and suffered a spinal injury during training for infantry operations in Camp Lejeune, N.C. He also endured other minor injuries that eventually required surgery. That made him eligible for VA disability.

“Going through that process I learned a lot about VA benefits—what’s out there—navigating it myself and frankly how disjointed and cumbersome the system really is for veterans,” says Bruer, who also has many service members in his family. It doesn’t help, he says, that many people keep their service to their country to themselves. “They don’t realize that they actually have something that they are entitled to.”

Sometimes they even feel they are taking the benefit away from someone else, but that’s not the case. “If it doesn’t get used, it doesn’t get used,” says Bruer, a co-CEO at Smith Bruer Advisors in Tallahassee, Fla. “If you don’t apply, you won’t get it and the next person won’t get it.”

And there are some really good benefits out there, he says. He was surprised at how much there was to know—and how much many vets don’t know about it.

Advisors who know what those benefits are, in retirement, college education or health care, can become a great help to military clients. Those include obvious benefits like the GI Bill for college, especially the post-9/11 GI Bill. But there are also property tax breaks, mortgage breaks, medical benefits, college benefits for the children of veterans and job programs that allow veterans to move to the head of the application line. There are also long-term-care benefits for those with more serious injuries. “They can apply for more specific vocational programs or even graduate school,” Bruer says. “Anything above and beyond what their 9/11 GI Bill would cover.”

CFP René Bruer was an active duty member of the Marine Corps for four years in the late 1990s and suffered a spinal injury during training for infantry operations in Camp Lejeune, N.C. He also endured other minor injuries that eventually required surgery. That made him eligible for VA disability.

“Going through that process I learned a lot about VA benefits—what’s out there—navigating it myself and frankly how disjointed and cumbersome the system really is for veterans,” says Bruer, who also has many service members in his family. It doesn’t help, he says, that many people keep their service to their country to themselves. “They don’t realize that they actually have something that they are entitled to.”

Sometimes they even feel they are taking the benefit away from someone else, but that’s not the case. “If it doesn’t get used, it doesn’t get used,” says Bruer, a co-CEO at Smith Bruer Advisors in Tallahassee, Fla. “If you don’t apply, you won’t get it and the next person won’t get it.”

And there are some really good benefits out there, he says. He was surprised at how much there was to know—and how much many vets don’t know about it.

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