By Halle Thornton
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Airman and Family Readiness Center encourages Schriever Airmen learn how to get the most bang for their buck.
John Willcockson, new A&FRC personal financial counselor, arrived at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Sept. 17 after working on Fort Carson as a financial counselor for two years.
As a contractor, Willcockson can meet with people within 50 miles of Schriever AFB.
“If a person’s duty schedule is not letting them get over to the center when we’re open, that’s OK,” he said. “I will schedule a time to meet that works for them.”
Willcockson’s services are free and confidential, and anyone with a Department of Defense identification card can take advantage.
“I will even talk to people’s teenagers for free,” he laughed.
Willcockson retired from the Air Force after 24 years, and said he tried a couple jobs, but did not have a passion for them.
“My wife said you need to get a job you really like,” he said. “There was a program that provided all resources and fees to get certified as a financial counselor. It synchronized with what I was really interested in doing, which was working in finance to help people and not necessarily just sell them insurance or stocks.”
Willcockson praised Liz Archuleta, A&FRC personal financial readiness lead and Air Force Aid Society Officer, and Andrea Hernandez, A&FRC flight chief, for their hard work building and maintaining the financial programs at Schriever AFB.
“Liz has done a great job with the programs and briefings for newcomers and people transitioning,” he said. “She is very experienced and knows the community well. Between her and myself, we can probably cover most of what comes up.”
Hernandez said she is thankful there is another certified financial counselor to assist the Schriever AFB community.
“I hope he will bring financial knowledge and flexibility to assist customers off the base, catering to the customer’s schedules,” Hernandez said.
Archuleta has been at Schriever AFB since 2001, hosting classes and one-on-one sessions regarding anything money related, including emergency assistance.
“I really like the First Term Airman Course,” she said. “A lot of them are just out of high school and while they may have done some money things prior to the Air Force, it’s just fun getting the different perspectives and knowing we are hopefully helping them get a good start into their military career.”
Archuleta is encouraged by Airmen who seek help.
“They’re being proactive,” she said. “They’ve made a money mistake and they’re not sure where their money is going. It’s a good way to get them on track and help them focus a little better.”
Archuleta is looking forward to having a new perspective in the financial office.
“Sometimes, you feel overwhelmed with a lot of people coming in,” she said. “John is willing to step in and help with the classes and take a little bit of the proactive budgets off my hands, and I’m really looking forward to having him here. He is going to be a great asset to Schriever with his knowledge and experience.”
Willcockson is excited to work with Archuleta because of the wide knowledge base they both bring when it comes to finances.
“Both of us can cover a wide range of things, from basic budgeting to credit, saving up to transition, and investing for goals down the road,” he said. “We already seem to be synchronized.”
Willcockson approaches counseling sessions the same: he starts with what brought Airmen into the office.
“After they come in, I try and figure out what is bothering them. If there is something negative going on with them financially,” he said. “If they’re not sure where to start, we figure out what they want to sort out with their money, often called goal setting.”
Willcockson said he looks forward to helping as many Airmen as possible.
“Service members at Schriever are already asking intelligent and informed questions about their finances,” he said. “There is already a good level of education, and Airmen are coming in with a lot of the basics covered. They are just looking to improve so they are as successful as possible, and I really like those kinds of conversations.”
Willcockson explained the program has been going quite well because of Hernandez and Archuleta.
“Anything I add is just going to be little extra layers of the onion,” he said. “My favorite areas seem to mesh well with what Archuleta has already been doing, in that I like talking about investing and saving for the future. She has done a great job of covering some of the more critical things like how to clear debt and how to budget.”
With the winter season fast approaching, Willcockson reminded Airmen to stay up-to-date with their insurance coverage plans.
“Coming into migration season and slippery weather, it can be handy to check on what you have for insurance coverage,” he said. “We’re here to figure out what’s best for you and at the right cost.”
Willcockson added having a good savings account for emergencies can be handy, and Archuleta and he can assist in budgeting for said emergencies.
“They have that sense of satisfaction that they have a direction and a plan,” he added.
Willcockson hopes to help more Schriever Airmen figure out their finances.
“It’s gratifying when people who have a problem are able to let me help them find a solution,” he said. “I love talking about money. I will talk until your ears bleed.”
“We don’t bite, so come on over,” he laughed.
For more information about financial planning, contact the A&FRC at 567-7347.