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If they don’t know about you, they can’t do anything about you
That was my mantra and motivator when fellow debt collector Craig Antico and I co-founded the public 501(c)(3) charity RIP Medical Debt in January ...

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Military Veterans in Journalism to participate in “Operation Debt-Day”

A new yearlong initiative called “Debt-Day” launching today seeks to eliminate $80 million worth of debt, some predatory, some of necessity that military veterans owe to collections agencies and lenders. 

Financial distress is a known predictor of suicide, and it has wreaked havoc on veterans and their families. 

End Veteran Debt (EVD), a 501(c)(3) charitable private foundation founded by Navy veteran Jerry Ashton, plans to purchase this debt from collectors and commercial debt sellers at a fraction of the cost – the same way collections agencies do – but instead set about to “abolish” the debt at no cost to the veteran.

Military Veterans in Journalism will support the effort by connecting MVJ members with paid news writing opportunities. They will be assigned to report on how debt forgiveness affects recipients locally and update the public on the program’s progress. 

“Can you imagine how many fantastic human interest stories will emerge from this initiative?” said Jerry Ashton, himself a former Navy Journalist. “All the people and organizations we’re partnering with are excited to liberate deserving vets from their most toxic debts. “

“But, we can’t build momentum around this unless people know about it,” Ashton continued. “We are counting on MVJ to provide a pipeline of veteran freelance journalists, broadcasters, and bloggers to get the word out to news outlets around the country and publish in our online newspaper Now Hear This.”

Dozens of nonprofits have agreed to participate by co-fundraising with EVD, each partner promising to raise from $25 to $50 thousand over the next 12 months to support the initiative.

If the process of abolishing debt sounds familiar to readers of this blog it may be because Ashton – a long-time MVJ member – has successfully used this strategy to forgive $4 Billion in medical debt for more than two million Americans through his previous initiative “RIP Medical Debt.”

Ashton has spent the last few years working with thought leaders to develop strategies to combat veteran suicide, and he says that eliminating the psycho-social burden caused by debt is a giant leap in the right direction. 

Veterans tend to have a rougher path to financial independence than their civilian counterparts. The difficulty in translating military experience into the civilian workforce can cause painful earnings gaps in their careers. This is why veterans are more likely to fall behind on installment auto loans and credit card payments, according to a 2020 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Answering the nation’s call to serve also exposes service members to insidious forms of financial risk, as predatory lenders love to set up shop as close as they can to military bases. A 2010 study by the Institute of Medicine found veterans were three times more likely than civilians to take out payday loans to make ends meet.

Here’s the symbolism and math in EVD’s $80,000,000 Debt-Day campaign. It intends to partner with 80 service organizations across the country, each committing to abolish $1M in vet debt (that’s where the $25-$50K donation comes in).

Each $1M will stand for the 80 years since June 6, 1944 – enough funds to abolish the $80M goal.

For more information on employing veteran media talent, visit https://www.mvj.network/