Advancing military communities

Our job is to make sure access to affordable financial services is the least of servicemembers’ worries.

November 1, 2022

Our servicemembers and their families make tremendous sacrifices every day for this country. Moves across the country and the world, and weeks and months without contact with loved ones are part of their day-to-day reality.

Credit unions work hard to make sure our military members and families don’t have to worry about getting their money. We excel at meeting members’ needs by offering personalized solutions that help their communities, and military members are no exception.

Credit unions are proud of their legacy to military communities, and we fight hard to ensure we can continue to offer safe and affordable products and services to servicemembers.

We’ve kept banks from infringing on the military base cost waivers that credit unions are eligible for. We’ve earned the right to negotiate with base commanders for cost waivers on bases because those commanders see the value we bring to military communities. 

Banks tried to expand that arrangement, but policymakers who put together the military funding bill have said “no” the last few years.

A recent Department of Defense (DOD) study further undercuts the banks’ call to expand this arrangement. The report confirmed that the DOD has not received any complaints from military base commanders—or their respective leaders—that servicemembers are lacking financial services options.

The report didn’t identify a single domestic DOD installation lacking adequate access to financial services. 

‘Credit unions are proud of their legacy to military communities.’

While the DOD confirmed credit unions continue to fulfill their mission to military members and families, credit unions around the country find new ways to reach servicemembers and veterans:

  • Skyward Credit Union in Wichita, Kan., works to ensure servicemembers at nearby Fort Leavenworth and McConnell Air Force Base stay away from the predatory lenders that often cluster around military bases.
  • Minnco Credit Union in Cambridge, Minn., supports and partners with many community organizations, including Havens for Heroes, a homeless shelter dedicated to getting homeless veterans off the street.
  • Pine Bluff (Ark.) Cotton Belt Federal Credit Union educated local veterans about their Department of Veterans Affairs eligibility so they could take advantage of the benefits they earned as first-time homebuyers.

Many of these mortgages were less than $50,000—not high enough for the big banks to take an interest. But that worked perfectly well for a credit union that puts people over profit.

Leagues work on behalf of military members as well. The Michigan Credit Union League recently succeeded in updating the state’s unclaimed property statute for active military members.

CUNA Councils Advancing Communities

The rules now ensure no military member comes home to a closed account.

These are just some of the inspirational stories featured on Advancing Communities, and I’d encourage you to submit your own story to the site.

For all their unique challenges, our servicemembers and their families have the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us: getting a car, buying their first home, saving for their children’s and their own education.

They do all this while facing numerous challenges and sacrifices. 

Our job is to make sure access to safe and affordable financial services is the least of their worries.

JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO at Credit Union National Association.

A Salute to Veterans
This article is part of A Salute to Veterans, CUNA News' special focus on military veterans in the credit union movement, sponsored by FIS. Search for the hashtag #SaluteToVeterans to follow the conversation on Twitter.