November is National Veterans and Military Families Month. It’s a time when the federal government, and the nation at-large, honor servicemembers and veterans who bravely served this country in uniform and the military families that selflessly supported them.
Since we opened our doors in July 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has handled approximately 207,600 consumer complaints from servicemembers, veterans and military family members. Consumer complaints give us insights into the problems members of the military community are experiencing and play a central role in our work of identifying and prioritizing issues for potential action. For example, complaints we received about companies that were allegedly targeting servicemembers and veterans with deceptive mortgage loan advertisements prompted a sweep by the Bureau that has resulted in multiple consent orders whereby the companies have to change their practices and pay penalties. However, our commitment to servicemembers and their families goes far beyond just addressing financial harm. We are committed to providing military members, and the practitioners who assist them, with tools and resources that empower them in the consumer marketplace and enable them to live on more sound financial footing.
To mark this month, the CFPB will be releasing a series of new consumer resources for servicemembers and collaborating with other federal agencies on projects aimed at better assessing the financial challenges and opportunities faced by members of the military community.
One of the priorities for the Bureau is providing servicemembers, veterans and military families with tools and resources that can help them become better-educated consumers and create pathways to greater financial well-being.
As part of National Veterans and Military Families Month, the Bureau will be releasing a new learning module for the program specifically designed to address real-life financial scenarios experienced by military families. MiMM is the CFPB’s premier financial education program for young servicemembers designed to immerse them in training scenarios that mimic real-world financial challenges. The new module expands the current training program to include more financial education specific to military families.
The Bureau also is releasing a new report, entitled Debt and delinquency after military service: A study of the credit records of young veterans in the first year after separation, which shows that a number of young enlisted servicemembers go delinquent on debt payments or have severe derogatory entries (for example, defaults) appear on their credit record around the time they leave active duty. The report’s findings will help guide the Bureau’s financial education efforts for servicemembers transitioning out of the military back to civilian life.
Collaborating with our federal partners and key stakeholder groups is one of the methods the Bureau uses to keep a focus on the experiences of servicemembers, veterans, and military families in the consumer marketplace. This month, the CFPB continues that effort with several collaborations that spotlight trending active duty servicemember and veteran consumer issues.
In collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education, we will be releasing a blog highlighting federal tools to help maximize GI Bill ® education benefits. Moreover, the CFPB will delve deeper into the topic this month when we release a new episode of the Financial inTuition podcast that will explore various repayment options for veterans and servicemembers dealing with student loan debt. We also are working with the National Credit Union Administration to conduct an informational webinar to its membership on CFPB resources available to its servicemembers, veterans, and military families.
Finally, in keeping with CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs mandate to work with federal, state, and local partners to address the financial concerns of servicemembers and their families, the office will host a military consumer virtual event. The goal of the event will be to share recent marketplace research insights and financial readiness resources designed to help military consumers make better informed decisions when navigating the financial marketplace.
Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to servicemembers, veterans, and military families for the service and sacrifices they have made on our behalf. Although that debt can never be fully repaid, the CFPB will continue working to ensure that anyone who has served this nation will have the resources, tools, and protections they need to achieve their financial dreams during and long after their military service.