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On Our Way

Last time, we talked about the mission of the Office of Servicemember Affairs. Now I’d like to tell you a little about the work the Office of Servicemember Affairs is doing. We’ve assembled a great team of professionals with a whole lot of military experience, and the CFPB is going to hear from us about the financial issues that impact military families. We’re sharing stories from military families within the CFPB and with other government agencies who work with us to address the issues that need to be fixed. We’ve also made sure that the CFPB’s Consumer Response Center is ready for military-specific questions. And they are ready to flag complaints that are coming in from military or veterans’ families.

This internal work at the CFPB is one part of what we do. The other part is getting outside to listen, coordinate, and educate.

Listening and Learning
One of the most important things we do is listen to and learn from you. We’ve already traveled to a bunch of military installations for town halls and listening tours: Lackland AFB, TX (Joint Base San Antonio); Naval Base San Diego, CA; Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, VA; Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, VA; the Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, VA; Fort Bragg, NC; Naval Station Great Lakes, IL ; and Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA. And there are more visits in the pipeline!

We’ve also met with the Adjutants General and their National Guard troops and families in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Illinois. We’ve met with a number of the state Attorneys General who are interested in military issues. And just a few weeks ago we signed a Joint Statement of Principles with the Judge Advocates General (JAG) of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. This partnership between the CFPB and the JAGs will allow us to hear about problems and address unlawful acts and practices happening to military personnel. Establishing and maintaining these channels of communications is extremely important to our forward progress.

Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs
We’ve already met with senior DoD officials, including the JAGs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. We will continue to work closely with the Pentagon as we plan our future activities.

We’ve also met with the Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). I’m excited to report that the VA has offered the assistance of their Loan Guaranty technicians for any servicemember or veteran who comes to us with difficulty paying their home mortgage. The VA will offer this assistance even if the mortgage is not a VA-guaranteed home loan.

On Capitol Hill
I’m proud to serve as a “subject-matter expert” on your behalf when Congress asks. I’ve already had the opportunity to speak to them on five different occasions. I’ve shared insights on a variety of topics:

  • House Veteran Affairs Committee Hearing: “Alleged Violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act”;
  • House Veteran Affairs Committee Seminar: “Educating the Financial Service Industry on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the VA Loan Guaranty Program”;
  • Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia Hearing: “Financial Literacy: Empowering Americans to Make Informed Financial Decisions”;
  • Forum with Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Cummings: “The Growing Problem Of Illegal Foreclosures Against U.S. Servicemembers”; and
  • Senate HELP Committee Roundtable: “Improving For-Profit Higher Education: A Roundtable Discussion of Policy Solutions”

Talk to Us
We hope you’ll tell us your story, good or bad, about your experience with consumer financial products. You can help us learn how we can work to protect you and create a fairer marketplace. Tell us what we can be doing to protect you in the comments section below.

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