‘Equal treatment’ of banks on base should focus on service, not profits

by Jim Nussle, Anthony Hernandez, and Dan Berger, Military Times

For almost a century, defense credit unions have served service members and their families well.

As member-owned, not-for-profits, defense credit unions’ focus is providing quality financial services to our men and women in uniform. This credit union ethos is evident whether it involves opening a checking account, obtaining low-interest credit, or learning how to properly save for retirement-defense credit unions proudly serve their communities while protecting against financial predators outside the gate.

In addition to member support, defense credit unions also manage the Department of Defense’s (DoD) substantial cash requirements without charge, enabling immediate expeditionary support. Defense credit unions are also asked to assume responsibilities for the government’s daily deposits into the Treasury General Account, such as commissary, post exchange and MWR activities. Unlike other financial institutions, defense credit unions do this on a not-for-profit basis — with their bottom line being service, not their shareholders.

This focus on service to their members and their base, over profits, has led Congress to give the DoD discretionary authority to allow credit unions to use land and space on military bases at a nominal rate. Historically, defense credit unions have been asked to remain on base to alleviate the high transactional costs coupled with poor service by other financial institutions. It is no secret, being member-owned and not-for-profit is how defense credit unions keep interest rates low and responsive to member needs (e.g., deployment), which improves the financial readiness of our military. Other financial institutions simply cannot match the credit union difference.


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