WASHINGTON—To drive greater focus on the needs of the military community in Washington, the Defense Credit Union Council has formed the Military Advocacy Committee.
DCUC CEO Anthony Hernandez said the move is getting the Council “back to its roots.”
“It gets us back to doing what we should be doing best—advocacy,” he told CUToday.info, noting the committee held the first of its quarterly meetings in January.
The committee consists of member CEOs from around the country, and now numbers more than 20. The group recommends legislative and regulatory goals for the Defense Council to champion, Hernandez said.
“In the past we have relied a lot on the larger trade associations to do advocacy for us. And if they remembered to call us we provided them with information and input,” explained Hernandez. “But I have always felt a need for DCUC to be more independent, stand on our own feet in terms of advocating for our member credit unions and servicemembers across the country.”
Citing the “unique mission” of all defense credit unions, Hernandez expects the committee will benefit military members within all U.S. credit unions.
“I believe all credit unions have military connected members within their field of membership. So how do we advocate for things that affect military members industry-wide—like the Military Lending Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, two major pieces of legislation that cut across all credit unions throughout the United States. DCUC should be front and center on all of those pieces of legislation.”
Hernandez said the Military Advocacy Committee allows DCUC to gain greater understanding of the needs of defense credit unions and their members, as well as being a strong sounding board for the Council.
“The committee is a great cross-section of large and small credit unions, federally chartered and state-chartered, community and SEG based,” explained Hernandez. “The point is that our military advocacy cuts across different types of credit unions, with the main thing being we're focused on the servicemember and their families.”
Hernandez emphasized the need for strong advocacy for U.S. military members and their families due to the unique situations they face in life.
“They face a lot of challenges that Washington needs to be clearly aware of,” said Hernandez. “They face issues like being deployed on very short notice, tragic events like someone being injured or killed, and transitioning out of the military to civilian life. The military family faces a unique set of challenges and credit unions, I believe, are uniquely suited to meet those needs.”
Where Committee is Focused
The Military Advocacy Committee is focused on the following priorities in 2019:
- Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (H.R. 1595)
- Improving Credit Reporting for All Consumers Act (H.R. 3642)
- Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) Section 610
- CFPB oversight on Military Lending Act (MLA) compliance
- The CFPB payday lending rules
- Banker interests in reforming the Community Reinvestment Act
- Merchant data security issues
- Credit Union operations at U.S. Postal Service locations
The Military Advocacy Committee simply gives the Defense Credit Union Council a stronger voice, said Hernandez.
A ‘Sounding Board’
“It helps me, too, being a good sounding board. I served 25 years in the Air Force. I've been aware of credit union activities from afar, but not really inside the industry,” he said. “It’s great to hear from CEOs who are actually doing the day-to-day with their members, helping servicemembers cope with their unique situations and improve their financial lives.”
Hernandez said the committee openly invites credit unions from across the country not specifically serving the defense community to participate in council meetings by dialing in.
“As I said, we know all credit unions have military members, and if a credit union wants to participate in a council meeting, we welcome that,” he said. “The information discussed and ensuing dialogue is a great way to educate credit unions on how to better serve military members and their families.”
Hernandez said that in the two committee meetings that have taken place, pot banking is an issue that has been raised. Hernandez said he is concerned when credit unions on a base accept marijuana business deposits.
‘Duffel Bags of Cash’
“The committee is not taking a stance for or against marijuana banking,” explained Hernandez. “Our concern is for the military members on base that might be affected. Having been a colonel-level commander in charge of a base, I'm a little concerned about people with large duffel bags of cash walking around on a base. I put my commander hat on and I don’t want to have that potential for criminal activity on the base—I'm not talking about cannabis itself, I'm talking about the cash being carried around. Someone walks around with $50,000 in a duffel bag and it won't take long for people to figure out what car this member is driving and what he looks like. The committee is concerned for how cannabis banking might play out on a military installation.”
The Defense Credit Union Council is holding its annual conference next week in Chicago (Aug. 18-21).