University of California, Irvine, veterans’ financial wellness webinar
WASHINGTON, DC (November 18, 2022) — DCUC recently collaborated with industry partners during the University of California, Irvine, Financial Wellness Webinar to discuss fostering financial stability for those who have served our country. Hosted by Bill Maurer, Dean of University of California, Irvine (UCI), School of Social Sciences, the webinar featured a panel of experts who discussed different ways military and Veterans are targeted by fraud and scams and how their organizations strive to protect and secure Veterans’ financial well-being. Maurer also shared how UCI’s Veterans Studies Program, only one of three in the country, is designed to give back to those who have served as well as build awareness of Veteran affairs and issues.
Anthony Hernandez, president/CEO, Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC), began the conversation by emphasizing how important it is to expand our awareness of Veterans’ unique lives and financial needs. While afforded additional protections because of their service, Veterans can experience challenges when transitioning to civilian life. By understanding these unique opportunities and challenges, credit unions can better serve the veterans within their fields of membership. As the premier defense trade association in the credit union industry, DCUC prides itself on helping credit unions speak military. DCUC does this by providing its members with the educational resources, representation and advocacy, and networking needs to better position their credit union’s effectiveness in serving these important communities.
“There are many great organizations doing this important work,” said Hernandez. “This webinar was a great resource for highlighting the different ways we all can show our commitment to serving those who serve our country.”
Lila Quintiliani, ChFC®, AFC®, Program Director, Financial and Benefits Education/Counseling, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), followed Hernandez. Quintiliani discussed the purpose of the MOAA and how the independent, nonprofit organization advocates specifically on pay and benefit issues for military and Veteran communities. The MOAA is currently supporting several legislations aimed at addressing military and Veteran members’ risks of scams and fraud, such as the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act. This piece of legislation would reinstate criminal penalties for unaccredited representatives who charge Veterans fees to file a VA claim. The Military Protection Task Force Act of 2022 is another bill that would offer military and Veteran members improved financial security by requiring the Department of Defense to establish an interagency task force on financial fraud to examine current and developing methods targeting servicemembers and Veterans. Quintiliani also highlighted some of the issues Veterans face and highlighting how many are uniquely susceptible to fraud, often from cyberscams and cybercrime. Veterans are always encouraged to use Accredited Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) for claim and appeal services, free of charge, and avoid risking their financial security.
Chip Dykes, VP, Community Development, Chief Warrant Officer, USMC-Ret, Frontwave CU, transitioned the conversation into a credit union perspective. Dykes shared Frontwave CU’s advocacy efforts that focus on ensuring military and Veterans’ financial wellness. By taking initiative to educate members on the regulations that guide on-base financial institutions, Frontwave CU shows they are looking out for the best interests of the military and Veterans they serve.
“We want a financially-fit military, and financial education is the baseline,” said Dykes. “We teach budgeting; we teach savings; we teach credit, auto-buying, homebuying. That baseline education just grows with their military career as they go on.”
Dykes reiterated that fraud is a very real and present issue often targeting young service members and Veterans. Through a proactive approach in educating these communities our military and Veterans have better opportunities for improved financial well-being and readiness.
Jeanine M. Gilson, Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives, Office of Financial Management, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) added how the VBA is helping Veterans avoid fraud and scams. With a new outreach campaign currently underway, the VBA is educating Veterans of common attempts and forms of fraud that specifically target our military communities. Aggressive emails, advertisements, and companies using some type of reiteration of VA colors to imply a relation to the VA are just a few examples of attempts often used to scam these vulnerable communities. A list of accredited agents and attorneys can be found on VA.gov. Veterans can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which helps identify financial scams as they emerge.
Hernandez concluded the webinar by touching on the free Veteran Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) available to all credit unions. This benefit offers Veterans the ability to receive their veteran benefits via direct deposit through access to a free checking account. For more information on the VBBP, visit benefits.va.gov/benefits/banking.
About Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC)
The Defense Credit Union Council is the premier resource for credit unions on all military and veteran matters. By maintaining a close and constant liaison with the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and NCUA, the Council champions the interests of credit unions serving our military and veteran communities by coordinating policy, procedures, and legislation impacting morale and welfare, financial readiness, and the delivery of quality financial products and services. Organized in 1963, the Council’s membership is comprised of 180 credit unions with over 35 million members. If you would like more information about this topic, please contact DCUC at firstname.lastname@example.org.