People who choose to serve their country make tremendous sacrifices while putting on the uniform, often along with their families.
Credit unions have a long history of service to military communities, and meeting the unique needs of our military members.
Servicemembers and military families face challenges unfamiliar to many of us, but we all share the same goals: safe and reliable transportation, a roof over our heads, and a chance to plan for our families’ future.
We placed a special focus on military households (active duty, retired, and served-separated) in this year’s National Voter Survey, which measures attitudes around financial health.
Of the military households surveyed, about half were credit union members.
We found that military households are just as financially stressed—if not more so—than the general population.
Stressful relocations, deployments, a larger proportion of young members with less financial experience—all of those factors accompany service to military members and families. In addition to the emotional stress, they face uncertainty in housing costs, limited income, and high health-care expenses.
Military households report higher use of rent-to-own services, payday lenders, pawnshops, and auto title loans than average households.
When asked how they view their financial health, 25% of military households responding to the survey said they were financially unhealthy, compared with 19% of the general population.
The good news is that credit unions stand out as a real difference maker in military households, in addition to people of color, lower-income individuals, women, and other demographic groups we’ve examined closely.
Military credit union member households are 1.5 times more likely than nonmembers to say they’re “very positive” their financial institution has improved their financial well-being.
Credit unions offer personalized financial services, and members take advantage of those resources. That’s the credit union difference at work.
Providing consumer-friendly pricing and thoughtful products and services creates an overall sense of trust among members.
We need to continue to look forward—to take our outstanding legacy and build and improve on it for future generations.
That’s why much of our advocacy work centers around promoting policies that would allow expanded service to military members and families. It’s why we also fight against policies that put members’ data security and access to affordable credit at risk.
Credit unions have always existed to serve their members. This puts us in a prime position to ensure individuals serving their country have their financial needs—whatever they may be—taken care of.
Let’s continue to make the credit union difference a positive force for all of our members.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO at Credit Union National Association.