The Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC) recently collaborated with industry partners during the University of California, Irvine, Financial Wellness Webinar to discuss fostering financial stability for those who have served the country. Hosted by Bill Maurer, Dean of University of California, Irvine (UCI), School of Social Sciences, the webinar featured a panel of experts who discussed different ways military and Veterans are targeted by fraud and scams and how their organizations strive to protect and secure Veterans’ financial well-being.
Maurer also shared how UCI’s Veterans Studies Program, only one of three in the country, is designed to give back to those who have served as well as build awareness of Veteran affairs and issues.
Anthony Hernandez, president/CEO, DCUC, began the conversation by emphasizing how important it is to expand our awareness of Veterans’ unique lives and financial needs. While afforded additional protections because of their service, Veterans can experience challenges when transitioning to civilian life.
By understanding these unique opportunities and challenges, credit unions can better serve the veterans within their fields of membership. As the premier defense trade association in the credit union industry, DCUC prides itself on helping credit unions speak military. DCUC does this by providing its members with the educational resources, representation and advocacy, and networking needs to better position their credit union’s effectiveness in serving these important communities.
“There are many great organizations doing this important work,” said Hernandez. “This webinar was a great resource for highlighting the different ways we all can show our commitment to serving those who serve our country.”
Lila Quintiliani, ChFC®, AFC®, Program Director, Financial and Benefits Education/Counseling, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), followed Hernandez. Quintiliani discussed the purpose of the MOAA and how the independent, nonprofit organization advocates specifically on pay and benefit issues for military and Veteran communities.
Quintiliani also highlighted some of the issues Veterans face and highlighting how many are uniquely susceptible to fraud, often from cyberscams and cybercrime. Veterans are always encouraged to use Accredited Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) for claim and appeal services, free of charge, and avoid risking their financial security.
Chip Dykes, VP, Community Development, Chief Warrant Officer, USMC-Ret, Frontwave CU, transitioned the conversation into a credit union perspective.
Dykes shared Frontwave CU’s advocacy efforts that focus on ensuring military and Veterans’ financial wellness. By taking initiative to educate members on the regulations that guide on-base financial institutions, Frontwave CU shows they are looking out for the best interests of the military and Veterans they serve.
“We want a financially-fit military, and financial education is the baseline,” said Dykes. “We teach budgeting; we teach savings; we teach credit, auto-buying, homebuying. That baseline education just grows with their military career as they go on.”
Dykes reiterated that fraud is a very real and present issue often targeting young service members and Veterans. Through a proactive approach in educating these communities our military and Veterans have better opportunities for improved financial well-being and readiness.
Jeanine M. Gilson, Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives, Office of Financial Management, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) added how the VBA is helping Veterans avoid fraud and scams. With a new outreach campaign currently underway, the VBA is educating Veterans of common attempts and forms of fraud that specifically target our military communities.
Aggressive emails, advertisements, and companies using some type of reiteration of VA colors to imply a relation to the VA are just a few examples of attempts often used to scam these vulnerable communities. A list of accredited agents and attorneys can be found on VA.gov. Veterans can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which helps identify financial scams as they emerge.
Hernandez concluded the webinar by touching on the free Veteran Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) available to all credit unions. This benefit offers Veterans the ability to receive their veteran benefits via direct deposit through access to a free checking account. For more information on the VBBP, visit benefits.va.gov/benefits/banking.