USA — Consumer Advocates Seek Military’s Input

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Lead­ers imple­ment­ing the fed­er­al government’s new con­sumer pro­tec­tion agency met with Joint Base San Anto­nio ser­vice mem­bers here yes­ter­day to dis­cuss the unique finan­cial issues fac­ing mil­i­tary fam­i­lies.

Eliz­a­beth War­ren, assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent and spe­cial advi­sor to the sec­re­tary of the trea­sury on the Con­sumer Finan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau, and Hol­ly Petraeus, who recent­ly joined the imple­men­ta­tion team to help in estab­lish­ing the bureau’s Office of Ser­vice­mem­ber Affairs, will use infor­ma­tion gath­ered from the meet­ing to cre­ate the new sup­port office for mil­i­tary members. 

“We need to get a sense of what’s hap­pen­ing [finan­cial­ly to ser­vice­mem­bers], because ulti­mate­ly, we need to be able to build the right sup­port struc­ture,” War­ren said. Petraeus empha­sized the impor­tance of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between ser­vice mem­bers and the Office of Ser­vice­mem­ber Affairs. 

“We want to make sure your voic­es are heard in the agency,” she said. “I do real­ize some of what you’re going through. It’s very impor­tant to us that we hear from you.” The pro­gram also includ­ed experts who serve the mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ty, as War­ren and Petraeus held a round­table dis­cus­sion with Joint Base San Anto­nio finan­cial readi­ness pro­gram man­agers and coun­selors, legal assis­tance lawyers, chap­lains and oth­er pro­fes­sion­als. Ser­vice providers brought to light the unique per­son­al finan­cial chal­lenges mil­i­tary mem­bers face. 

The size and diver­si­ty of the mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ty here made Joint Base San Anto­nio a good start­ing point to gath­er infor­ma­tion, War­ren said. 

“We thought it was an oppor­tu­ni­ty, in a sin­gle vis­it, to get a very broad per­spec­tive on the nature of the finan­cial prob­lems fac­ing mil­i­tary fam­i­lies,” she said.

Petraeus agreed. “I think it was great to start at a joint base,” she said. “It’s the wave of the future, the ser­vices all work­ing togeth­er. We have a lot of dif­fer­ent uni­forms in the room, and that is very help­ful to us.” 

War­ren cit­ed Petraeus’ exten­sive asso­ci­a­tion with the mil­i­tary, not­ing that she served for the past six years as the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau’s Mil­i­tary Line direc­tor. Her family’s mil­i­tary lin­eage dates to her great-grand­fa­ther, War­ren added, and she has been a mil­i­tary spouse for more than 35 years. Petraeus is the wife of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, com­man­der of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. 

The Con­sumer Finan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau is a prod­uct of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act signed into law last year. Respon­si­ble for enforc­ing all fed­er­al laws in con­sumer cred­it, the new bureau begins oper­a­tions July 21. It also will pro­vide con­sumer finan­cial edu­ca­tion and exam­ine finan­cial rules. 

“[This agency] is about mak­ing sure cur­rent laws are ful­ly observed and that there’s ‘a cop on the beat’ to ensure that’s the case,” War­ren said, adding that this will be the case for all Amer­i­cans, and par­tic­u­lar­ly for mil­i­tary families. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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