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Susan’s Story

Susan’s Story

722 722 FFP

Susan Williams’ Story

Susan Williams well remembers an email that changed her life.

The email wasn’t specifically addressed to her. It was from the Foundation for Financial Planning, with a request for help. Having always been interested in pro bono financial planning but not sure where to start, Susan (a CFP® professional) had signed up for the Foundation’s Volunteer Database. She wasn’t sure what would come of it, but on this day, something did.

The request concerned the family of a military veteran, Tony Doyle, who had lost part of a leg while serving in Iraq. The family of five was struggling financially as Tony underwent ongoing therapy. Caring for Tony and their three young children meant that Tony’s wife, Melissa, could no longer work full-time.

The message of the email was straightforward, Susan says: “We need a financial planner. Can anybody help?”

The appeal moved Susan, who lives in East Tennessee. “Like most other planners, I’m very busy,” she says. “But when I get an email like that, I have to stop and say, ‘Here’s someone who has risked his life. He came home injured, and his life is forever changed.’”

Susan volunteered.

After the Foundation’s nonprofit partner, Homes for Our Troops, facilitated an introduction, Susan got in touch with the Doyles. Over the phone, they talked about the financial challenges the family was facing.

Susan helped the Doyles establish a budget that would enable them to manage their monthly expenses and pay down credit card debt. “The budgeting questions we as planners think are basic are actually very easy for us to give guidance on,” Susan says. “And the Foundation makes it very easy to assist with pro bono planning.”

Stabilizing their finances enabled the Doyles to qualify for assistance from Home for Our Troops, which builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans.

“We owe it to them,” Susan says. “They have done so much to defend freedom. If I can have even a small impact, what a good feeling that is.”

Published on May 1, 2017

“Like most other planners, I’m very busy. But when I get an email like that, I have to stop and say, ‘Here’s someone who has risked his life.’”
— Susan Williams, Certified Financial Planner


  • Volunteered to provide pro bono financial planning for wounded military veteran and his family
  • Helped the couple develop a budget to manage monthly expenses and pay down credit card debt
  • Helped family stabilize their financial situation, which enabled them to qualify for a mortgage-free home specially adapted for the needs of wounded veterans