The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) monitors all legislation affecting veterans, alerts VFW membership to key legislation under consideration and actively lobbies Congress and the administration on veterans issues. With VFW’s own priority goals in mind, combined with the support of 2 million members of VFW and its auxiliaries, our voice on “the Hill” cannot be ignored!

Friday, February 7, 2014

VFW Joins TMC Briefing on Consumer Finance

On Thursday, your VFW joined its partners in The Military Coalition for a briefing by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CFPB Director of Servicemember Affairs Holly Petraeus took the opportunity to directly explain the financial issues facing today’s military and veterans’ communities, and how these issues can be avoided through proper financial education and assistance programs. As a military wife and mother, Petraeus has aggressively advocated for the financial wellbeing of service members and veterans first through the Better Business Bureau and now in her role at CFPB.

In her remarks, Petraeus said that predatory banks and other financial institutions may target service members who lack proper education on finances. Petraeus discussed some of the specific issues like violations of the Military Lending Act; misinterpretation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act; pay day lending and high interest car loans; the improper administration of mortgages; predatory student lending; and the improper administration of fees for certain financial services.

She said current financial training resources for service members and their families are minimal and often delivered at inopportune times or by the wrong method. For example, Petraeus disagrees with delivering financial education classes during basic training when the troops are mentally and physically tired, and she expressed her dissatisfaction with boring PowerPoint presentations for separating service members. CFPB is working to develop online video financial education modules that would be accessible to service members, veterans and dependents before, during and after military service.

Another CFPB priority is to help separating or retiring service members. The bureau discovered on more than 70 military installations that many service members who have seemingly effective financial plans during the military’s Transition Assistance Program find it difficult to execute those plans once the uniform comes off. CFPB is now advocating for trained financial counselors to assist transitioning service members.

Petraeus highlighted CFPB’s military-specific complaint system, noting its effectiveness in hearing and addressing the issues that service members, veterans, dependents and survivors encounter. In 2012 alone CFPB was able to help 77 percent of its 3,544 military complainants resolve their issues with either an explanation, monetary relief or non-monetary relief. CFPB also learned that many complaints were based on a financial institution’s lack of understanding of laws that are designed to protect military borrowers.

Petraeus also discussed CFPB’s role in consumer protections for student veterans through the new interagency education complaint system and VA’s new GI Bill Comparison Tool. The VFW played a key role in commissioning the new resources, and thanked Petraeus and CFPB for their diligence in working with VA and other federal agencies to ensure the new tools were implemented in a timely manner.

Your VFW is consistently advocating for the financial wellbeing of service members, veterans, and their loved ones, which is why the VFW supports the CFPB’s efforts to weed out financial fraud and abuse against the military community. For more information about CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs and to find consumer resources useful to the military and veterans’ communities, click here.

(Image: CFPB Director of Servicemember Affairs Holly Petraeus briefs The Military Coalition on her bureau's work protecting military consumers. Photo by Ryan Gallucci.)

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