Military Personnel are Losing Financial Services Options December 13, 2019 The Credit Union Journal published a story (subscription required) regarding a provision excluded from the final version of the House-approved National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The language would have granted banks the same rent-free access to land on military bases as credit unions currently enjoy. At the same time, “Explore Credit Unions” was Tweeting that “Forty percent of banks on military bases have closed their doors over the past 15 years as credit unions receive special treatment from Department of Defense,” and noting that military and families and DoD civilians were the real losers in the shifting competition among financial services institutions. In a time when servicemembers and their families are increasingly concerned about their financial futures, and are feeling fiscally pressured, they should have access to more financial services options – not fewer – to meet their needs and to address their concerns. The Department of Defense – and by extension Congress – are tasked with giving our military every tool to gain an advantage in the field of battle and in the defense and protection of our nation. That they would place a thumb on the scale to advantage one set of financial institutions over others – and limit the ability of servicemembers and their families to get the financial assistance they may require, is discouraging. It’s not just traditional banks that are disadvantaged. AFSA members who offer a wide variety of consumer credit products – from traditional installment loans to vehicle financing options – also have a difficult time serving servicemembers with products, largely due to short-sighted policy decisions. It’s time for policymakers on Capitol Hill and in the Department of Defense, as well as the financial services industry to come together and identify an approach that gives servicemembers the opportunity to access to more financial-services resources – and not just a select few.