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Photo Caption: A representative from Fort Meade's Army Community Service explains the organization's mission and provides an overview of services offered to a Defense Information Systems Agency employee at the agency's Financial Wellness Expo held Jan. 16. The exhibitors included banks, credit unions, financial planners, credit counselors and insurance agents to help DISA employees secure their financial well-being.

January 30, 2014
DISA Strategic Communications

The Defense Information Systems Agency hosted a Financial Wellness Expo on Jan. 16.

The event, open to all military and civilian employees of the agency, featured a variety of financial services exhibitors ranging from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland and Delaware.

The theme was "Exercises to Shape Up Your Spending." The focus was on financial wellness through education.

"Maintaining a balance in your financial wellness leads to an overall decrease in stress levels, which is beneficial to your health," said Helena Jenkins, who manned a table for Federal Occupational Health that featured a free blood pressure check.

Exhibitors included banks, credit unions, financial planners, credit counselors and insurance agents.

"The expo was extremely well laid out, logistically and aesthetically speaking," said Jennifer Augustine, deputy director of the DISA Manpower, Personnel, and Security Directorate.

Employees received a variety of information including how to balance a budget, get out of debt, prevent identity theft, and avoid bankruptcy. Many exhibitors provided brochures and other collateral materials to take home.

Exhibits such as the Thrift Savings Program and National Association of Retired Federal Employees provided information to help employees work proactively to secure their future financial well-being.

Federal Trade Commission representatives shared information such as what to do if you are a victim of identity theft, how to receive a free credit report, and how to deal with debt.

Other exhibits highlighted ways that individuals with financial problems can seek help.

"The aim of the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling is to offer counseling and help for anyone with a gambling addiction, which can lead to financial ruin," said Carl Robertson, who represented the organization at the expo and handed out literature featuring its 24-hour help hotline.

The expo also featured charitable and nonprofit organizations, providing information for those who need assistance as well as those interested in giving.

They included the National Military Family Association, which advocates for military benefits and manages programs that include scholarships; summer camps for children whose parents are deployed; and support for the caregivers of wounded warriors and the Manna Food Center, a nonprofit organization working to eliminate hunger in Montgomery County through food distribution, education and advocacy.

"Ten Thousand Villages is the gift that gives twice" said Melba Leopardi, pointing out that the hand-made textiles, jewelry and art featured in her exhibit were made from sustainable natural resources and recycled materials.

Leopardi said the nonprofit organization works to improve the livelihood of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries.

Michele Rackey, executive director of Government Employees' Benefits Association, praised event organizers.

"I've been a vendor at many of these events over the years, and this was by far the most well-organized expo I've ever had the pleasure of attending," she said.