November 02, 2011


WASHINGTON – With Veterans Day approaching and in recognition of November being Military Family Month, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) will hold a hearing tomorrow to explore consumer financial protection for servicemembers, veterans, and their families. At 10:00 A.M. in Dirksen 538 the Banking Committee will hear from witnesses including Holly Petraeus, head of the new Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Committee will discuss financial challenges facing servicemembers, veterans, and their families, the importance of financial education for these consumers, and enforcement of existing consumer protection laws.

“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the nearly 1.5 million active-duty servicemembers protecting America at home and abroad, as well as to the 22 million veterans who have served in the armed forces,” said Chairman Johnson. “Servicemembers have been hit hard by the financial crisis, caused by reckless behavior on Wall Street and a lack of consumer protections. I am proud and thankful for the work being done by tomorrow’s panelists to help ensure servicemembers and veterans have the tools and information they need to make informed financial decisions for themselves and their families.”

Last year, Congress passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to help prevent future crises and protect consumers from further abuses. A key part of the new law is the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has one mission: to make the market for consumer financial products and services work for American consumers, responsible providers, and the economy as a whole.

In recognition of the challenges faced by the men and women serving in our armed forces, the Wall Street Reform Act called for the creation of an Office of Servicemember Affairs, which is now headed by Mrs. Holly Petraeus, wife of CIA Director and former General David Petraeus.

The hearing will explore the unique challenges faced by military personnel. For instance, if a servicemember is transferred to a different base or called to serve overseas, and is unable to sell their house, it can lead to significant financial hardship. Servicemembers are also disproportionately targeted by predatory lenders. Many predatory lenders locate their businesses near the gates of military bases, and some charge abusive interest rates that are more than the 36% limit established by the Military Lending Act.

The financial crisis and the unfair practices of some financial providers have undermined the mission readiness of our troops: In surveys conducted by the Department of Defense, personal finances ranked second on the list of the causes of stress for servicemembers, behind only work/career concerns. In addition, financial problems are now the top cause of revocation of military security clearances. Tomorrow’s hearing will look into what is being done to address these problems and seek to determine if further congressional action is necessary.