Hello from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the CFPB! On July 21st we officially opened our doors for business. We are here to serve consumers, and that definitely includes military consumers. I’d like to tell you about my particular office within the CFPB, the Office of Servicemember Affairs. We’ve assembled a great team with a whole lot of military experience (almost 100 years, in fact!). It’s our goal to help provide a quality financial education for the military, to see that their complaints about financial products and services are heard and responded to, and to raise awareness of military financial issues not only within the CFPB but also with other government agencies. (And I should add that my definition of military includes active-duty, Reserve, Guard, retired, veterans, and their families.)
One priority for us is to listen to and learn from the military community. We’ve already traveled to a bunch of military installations for town halls and listening tours, and there are more visits ahead. We’ve also met with the Adjutants General and National Guard troops and families in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Illinois, as well as with a number of 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 Advocate Generals (JAGs) of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. This partnership between the CFPB and the JAGs will allow us to hear about military complaints about consumer financial products – and be sure they are addressed.
Besides the JAGs, we’ve also met with senior Department of Defense officials and we will work closely with the Pentagon as we plan our future activities. We’re also in touch with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). I’m excited to report that the VA has offered their Home Loan Assistance Program for any servicemember or veteran who comes to us with difficulty paying their home mortgage. The VA is offering this assistance even if the mortgage is not a VA-guaranteed loan. I’m also proud to serve as a military consumer financial issues “subject-matter expert” when Congress asks. I have already had the opportunity to offer insights on Capitol Hill on a variety of topics, including the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, financial literacy education, and the use of military GI Bill and tuition assistance benefits.
Now that the CFPB is open for business, we’ve made sure that the CFPB’s Consumer Response Division is ready to answer common military-specific questions and to identify complaints that are coming in from military families. Military families, we hope that you will visit www.consumerfinance.gov to tell us about your experiences, good or bad, with consumer financial products. That will help us work to protect you and create a fairer marketplace. We are waiting to hear from you!
Military daughter, wife, and mother – Holly Petraeus is the Director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.