Veterans Day and a spirit of service

Each year as a Nation, we take Veterans Day to celebrate and honor those who have served our country. Our Veterans come from all walks of life: from 1st generation Americans to 3rd generation Marines, from every state and U.S. territory, from all economic backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders. They joined for many reasons, whether for job stability, the ability to travel and see the world, economic opportunity, or tradition. But one thing they have in common is their oath to serve and defend our nation.

Veterans’ dedication to service was recommitted every day as they trained, deployed, and PCS’d, often working long shifts whether at home or abroad. Their service came at the expense of time with their family, an ability to put down roots in a particular community, and for some, their physical and mental health. And yet, most Veterans are incredibly proud of their service, whether it was for a few years or a full career.

I see this dedication to service echoed within our credit union industry. Whether it’s financial education classes in schools, donations to local food pantries, or hours spent cleaning up the neighborhood, every day, our credit unions are actively committed to improving the lives of those around them. Often, it goes beyond what we see in pictures and press releases.

We have branch managers who make regular house calls to elderly members unable make it into the branch and front-line tellers patiently assisting members with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. We have loan officers who contact the VA, helping to correct a Veteran’s benefits to protect them from defaulting on their bills, losing their housing or cars. Just as dedication to service is the foundation of our military, it is deeply embedded in our credit union culture.

This shared pride in service makes credit unions a natural ally to those who are wearing or have worn the military uniform. Working at the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC) has taught me that while military life can seem foreign to those on the outside, we have more in common with our servicemembers than we think.

I encourage every credit union to reach out to the military community in their area, whether a recruiting depot, a Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter, or a military spouse group. I also encourage credit unions to look within their own staff to talk to the Veterans they employ. There is so much opportunity to be found in better connecting with our military and Veterans if we continue to grow our knowledge and skills in serving this important segment of our communities.

While our ways of serving may look different, it remains that both our military and credit unions have a shared commitment to our communities and Nation. If we, as an industry, can emphasize this connection, we can make an even bigger difference in the lives of our Nation’s 1.4 million military members and more than 18 million Veterans.

Beth Merlo

Beth Merlo

Beth Merlo is the Vice President of the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC). She joined DCUC in 2006 and has worked in all parts of the organization. As Vice President, ... Web: Details