One of the biggest challenges of working at a new organization is getting the word out about what you do and how your product or service makes a difference to the customer. And that’s definitely the case here at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its Office of Servicemember Affairs.
To get the word out since we started up last year, my staff and I have: visited more than two dozen military instillations across the country; met with various members of Congress and testified at hearings; developed working relationships with crucial Department of Defense offices; established a social media presence; and hosted a Financial Fitness Forum for the military and banking industry leaders.
We took another big step forward recently when the Bureau hosted our first Town Hall with Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), and Military Service Organizations (MSOs).
Since the earliest days of the United States military, there have been groups of veterans, community leaders, and concerned citizens who’ve banded together to address issues affecting the lives of American servicemembers. For more than a century, many of the leading VSOs and MSOs have been among the most effective champions for servicemembers, veterans, and their families.
For our town hall we hosted 26 representatives from such organizations as the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the National Military Family Association (NMFA), and others as we talked about how the Bureau works to protect servicemembers, veterans, and military families.
The town hall provided the VSO and MSO representatives an opportunity to ask questions and speak directly to our Bureau’s senior officials about military consumer finance issues.
We got some great questions on topics ranging from for-profit colleges to contract arbitration clauses. We also described what the Bureau is doing to protect servicemembers, highlighted some resources we have to assist military families, and conveyed that we have shared goals and priorities when it comes to protecting the financial future of America’s military community.
Director Richard Cordray told the audience how seriously he takes the job of being a consumer watchdog for military families:
“Active-duty servicemembers, National Guard and Reserve personnel, military spouses, retirees, veterans and their families often face unique financial challenges that can leave them vulnerable to debt, scams, questionable business practices and a wide range of consumer financial protection issues,” he said. “As the Director of our nation’s consumer watchdog, I am honored to have the opportunity to protect the men and women who have sacrificed so greatly for this country.”
What he said really sums up the mission of my office. Everything we do is dedicated to helping servicemembers, veterans and military families build strong financial foundations and receive the consumer financial protections they deserve.
We’ve found allies in the VSOs and MSOs, and we look forward to working together as we pursue our shared mission of helping military families.