Veterans’ financial prosperity: Growing industry awareness and support of our nation’s veterans
As the premier defense trade association representing the interests of credit unions serving the U.S. Armed Forces worldwide, the Defense Credit Union Council’s (DCUC) mission is one that always circles back to Serving Those Who Serve Our Country. DCUC understands the financial opportunities and obstacles that come along with serving our nation. Our military and veterans need the quality products and services our credit unions offer now more than ever to ensure they remain financially protected.
A report recently shared with DCUC by United for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) showed that over a quarter of our nation’s veterans struggle to make ends meet. The research revealed 6% of the 17 million veterans in the U.S. were below the Federal Poverty Level in 2019, and an additional 21% were ALICE. ALICE veterans earn above the poverty level, yet still, live paycheck to paycheck. In total, 27% of veterans (approximately 4.6 million) in the U.S. were financially insecure. The results of this study highlighted how imperative it is that we, as an industry, continue to grow our understanding of the significant challenges veterans face.
I see a tremendous opportunity to serve more veterans across the country. America’s credit unions have at least one veteran within their fields of membership, and with now over 18 million veterans, there is untapped potential to expand our reach throughout our nation’s veteran community.
Last month, DCUC’s Vice President Beth Merlo shared just how deeply embedded defense credit unions’ dedication to serving our military communities is within this industry. Whether it’s making house calls to members unable to make a trip into the branch or assisting veterans by contacting VA liaisons to help fix benefit payments, credit unions see the many unique circumstances that their veteran members face and know how to help.
Recently, we had several industry partners join the discussion on how to improve the financial well-being of Veterans. DCUC participated in a webinar along with The University of California, Irvine, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) to discuss the risks and scams veterans often face. The panelists shared resources on how we can better protect and secure veterans’ financial health. More information can be found here by watching the “Veterans Financial Wellness” webinar hosted by UCI.
Other resources that allow credit unions to better reach their veteran members include: joining the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP), which encourages veterans to reduce their exposure to fraud via direct deposit; taking advantage of the benefits allotted to them through the CDFI Fund and offering more opportunities for veterans; and identifying military members living abroad to help qualify for NCUA’s Low Income Credit Union designation. There is also a guide in the works to help understand the financial implications of military service and the benefits extended to veterans.
By learning to better serve and reach this important segment of our population, veterans’ overall financial prosperity and stability will improve into one they not only have earned but deserve. DCUC continues to emphasize the importance of serving and advocating for our veterans’ financial wellness, especially with rising inflation. We aim to lead the industry in increasing its awareness of what veterans’ financial lives look like on a daily basis.
Service is embedded into the heart of the credit union industry. We can and should do more to serve those who have served our nation.
United for Alice is recognized as a driver of national research, innovation, and action on financial hardships.
Click here to download the report.