One of the highest priorities of this nation must be the passionate and zealous defense of our defenders. With hundreds of thousands of American military personnel stationed around the world, tens of thousands in hot zones where they live from minute-to-minute in harm’s way, we must never waver in our commitment to provide the best armor, most advanced weaponry, cutting-edge equipment, ample supplies, thorough training and sophisticated intelligence so that they have whatever they need to complete their mission. Beyond working to limit their deployment-related vulnerabilities, it must be our mission to anticipate and respond to other exposures they confront which impact their ability to protect themselves – issues that could cause them to lose focus and put them in the crosshairs of another insidious type of harm – financial chaos.
Beyond the shameful subject of inadequate compensation for members of our armed forces, an issue for another day, there is a desperate need for simpler pathways to financial literacy, financial counseling and protection against the scams, identity theft and predatory lending that specifically targets military men and women preying on the fact that they are otherwise engaged.
In the past few days, encouraging news on this front has come from Washington. The Obama Administration has tapped a longtime advocate for military families to work with Elizabeth Warren to establish the Office of Service Member Affairs, within the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
For Holly Petraeus, the protection of military personnel and their families from financial predators is neither a foreign subject nor a new mission. The wife of US General David Petraeus, who formerly commanded US forces in Iraq and now commands international and American forces in Afghanistan, Ms. Petraeus has lived for decades in the military environment and worked for the Better Business Bureau protecting military families from toxic lending and other abusive practices. She has been particularly outspoken on the issue of unscrupulous lenders that prey on American military families. In a November, 2010 interview with USAA Magazine, Petraeus opined that our nation’s fighting men and women are particularly vulnerable to financial scam artists.
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