Focus on youth: Building a stronger society

Capt Hernandez and daughter

The Defense Credit Union Council specializes in understanding and communicating defense related issues for all credit unions in the United States. Because virtually every credit union in our country has at least one military-connected or veteran member in their field of membership, it is important to understand this important and ever-growing segment of our society. Knowing what to say, when to say it, and how to say it matters, especially since there are many military/veteran events each month. Here is an example:

April is special because it is the Month of the Military Child. This year’s theme, “Military Children and Youth: A Resilient Force in a Changing World” is very appropriate given all that has happened over the last year—not just for military children, but for all children. Yet, military children struggle with additional burdens. Apart from dealing with their parent’s deployment(s), many are far away from extended families, start all over in a new school every year and must make new friends and find new sources for extra-curricular activities.

COVID-19 restrictions make it even worse! Yet, military children demonstrate a remarkable resilience to our changing world. I see this in my own children. In fact, at the time the picture with my daughter was taken, we had just moved to Washington, DC in February 2001, where I started working “regular” 12-hour days/6.5 days per week at the Pentagon. Plus, we were expecting the arrival of our second daughter.

I still get emotional looking at this picture because it was one of the few times I was home—in this case so I could see my daughter’s new Easter dress. Yet, these were the “less stressful” days as this picture was taken prior to many events following September 11, 2001. I cannot count how many soccer games, Girl Scout events, and school functions I missed over the next two years in addition to helping my wife with a new baby. The stress was off the charts and I know my daughter sensed it even at her young age.

Again, the point is that our daughters grew up in an uncertain world and had to learn how to cope with sudden change in order to deal with life’s challenges. I believe this is why they are both able to adapt and thrive during the current pandemic. All the credit goes to my wife who shouldered the burden of raising our girls to be the strong, resilient women they are today. In fact, I see my oldest daughter duplicating her mother’s methods in raising our new granddaughter. This is how strong societies endure! It is also why Month of the Military Child is important.

Since April is also National Credit Union Youth Month, I can also add that both of our daughters learned to become excellent savers. Both girls literally saved every penny, nickel, dime and quarter they found as young girls. Since my wife and I became members of each defense credit union where we were stationed, our daughters were able to take their unwrapped change, have it counted (usually between $50 and $80), and deposited into their own savings account. The lessons they began learning about saving as children, continued as they got their first jobs and paychecks, diligently putting away at least half of their earnings. Now as young adults, I am proud to see them taking the lessons they learned as children to prepare for their futures.

Focusing on our youth and teaching our kids to save works! 

Think how your credit union can make the difference. How does your credit union help spouses and families when the military member is deployed? Are there new ways to support these members? Do you sponsor activities like student-to-student groups to help military-connected students make friends or sponsor team sports, music groups, or other youth activities to make room for incoming military kids? 

You do not have to be a defense credit union to do these things. DCUC can help you with ideas geared toward military families! Plus, if these ideas work for military children and spouses, they will work for all children and spouses. Contact DCUC for more details.

Looking to the future, I cannot wait for my new granddaughter to be old enough to start the same fun activities my daughters enjoyed in learning to save. Now that I have better balance and perspective, I have more time to help raise the next generation. I am excited about the future. I hope you are too!

Anthony Hernandez

Anthony Hernandez

Anthony Hernandez is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC).  He joined DCUC as its Chief Operating Officer in August 2016 and was selected ... Web: Details