Call it beginner's luck.
"I never win anything," said Pvt. Jarred Hoskins, 20, who moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord right out of basic training eight months ago. Lucky for him, the first time he won something, he won big. On Jan. 25, Hoskins was presented with a check for $2,500 from the Armed Forces Benefits Network (AFBN) as part of its You are our Heroes sweepstakes.
"I am putting at least half of the money away since we have a baby due in July," said Hoskins, who is part of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. "Then there's a few other things we need, but anything left over is also going to the baby."
Hoskins was entered in the sweepstakes during a newcomers' brief when he first got to base. But in the flurry of paperwork, he completely forgot about it. So when Vanessa Lindsay, an AFBN regional vice president, tried to contact him, he wasn't quick to reply.
"I had to call him almost eight times before he called me back," Lindsay said. "By the third message I was trying to explain that this wasn't a scam ... I don't blame him; there's a lot of that nowadays ... but I am really happy he finally picked up the phone."
In addition to during in processing, Servicemembers are also automatically entered in the sweepstakes if they are an AFBN client or if they just come in to have their taxes done, though entries are limited to once a year. Though the sweepstakes is just entering its third year and is conducted on a national level, Hoskins is the second winner to be randomly selected from JBLM.
The AFBN organization helps military clients with debt consolidation, financing for buying a home and other financial and investment services. Additionally, AFBN offices offer free tax preparation and filing for those in uniform serving on active duty.
So the question is, will Hoskins officially become an AFBN customer?
"Yeah, I think I'll come back and have my taxes done here," he said with a laugh as he looked at the fellow Soldiers who accompanied him to the presentation last week. "We probably all will now."
To register for the next drawing (which will be held April 16) visit www.afbn.us/v2/win.php.
[AFBN, 15206 Union Ave. SW, Lakewood, (253) 581-0141.]