Last week, the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC) was in beautiful Colorado Springs to celebrate 60 years of being the voice for credit unions serving our nation’s military. The last six decades have seen a lot of change for credit unions and the military, but one thing has remained the same for both: a steadfast dedication to service and the greater good.
In 1963, two hundred delegates from 87 defense credit unions attended DCUC’s first Annual Conference held at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. The foundations set during that meeting continue to guide the Council to this day.
Sixty years later, DCUC still seeks to address the problems of serving a mobile membership and remains the active liaison between credit unions and the Department of Defense. That mission has grown to include being the voice for all credit unions serving military and veterans at NCUA, on the Hill, in U.S. state legislatures, and on overseas U.S. installations around the world.
Today, with 2.13 million servicemembers, including National Guard and Reserves, and more than 18 million veterans in our Nation, this segment isn’t as niche as one might expect. Unlike the 1960s when servicemembers and their families were concentrated on military bases, today’s military is woven into the communities surrounding each installation and beyond.
In fact, a recent study by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) found that there is a military person in every zip code. This proves DCUC’s long held belief that every credit union has a military or veteran in their field of membership. If we, as an industry, are going to serve our military and veterans to the fullest, we must come together to create a united front of knowledgeable, committed people willing and able to help them achieve and maintain financial prosperity.
Given the common mission of credit unions, the “willing” part is never an issue. Therefore, DCUC’s focus is on educating those who are doing this important work. Knowing this, DCUC has released several financial education publications such as the Armed Forces Financial Guide and the soon-to-be-released Veterans Guide. We’ve also helped stand up and support Veteran Saves this past April and have led over 50 credit unions to participate in the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP). This volunteer program helps bank underserved Veterans by providing them with free checking accounts.
Yet, we know the real magic occurs at our credit unions. DCUC members serve in 48 states and more than 15 countries and range from the largest in the world to some of the smallest. Overall, they are under 4% of all credit unions, but they are also a quarter of the industry in assets and memberships. And their excellence is noticed by the communities they serve. DCUC member credit unions are the fastest-growing segment compared to the whole industry.
As demonstrated in DCUC’s recent webinar co-hosted by CUInsight, “Speaking Military,” our members are dedicated, innovative, and incredibly involved in the military and veteran communities they serve. Even more so, we saw firsthand during our webinar how many credit unions are also interested in advancing and improving their connections and services provided to their local servicemembers and veterans. Our member credit unions have a wealth of practical knowledge of the challenges our military and veterans face, and in the spirit of people helping people, they are willing to share it with those seeking to better serve their own members.
DCUC member credit unions represent the finest in our industry, and DCUC could not be prouder to represent them and the more than 35 million members they serve. It has been a great 60 years, and we are very excited for the years to come!