Donnelly, Petraeus Seek To Help Soldiers With Financial Issues
July 2, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com
INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly brought Holly Petraeus – who advocates for service members – to Indianapolis to tell members of the Indiana National Guard they are not alone as they face financial challenges in their lives.
The pair met with groups of veteran service officers, local citizens, and with military members who are having financial challenges.
Then Donnelly, D-Indiana, and Petraeus, director of the Office of Service Member Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said the goal is to make sure military members are not being taken advantage of and are getting a good deal.
“For so many years we have had challenges in this area where you would go off base and there would be so many different financial challenges to our service members,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly said Indiana has the fourth largest overall National Guard in the country and the largest per capita guard in the nation.
With members coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq, the senator said the need for great advice grows more important
“We are here to let every service member from Indiana know that you are not alone, that if you are looking up today and say ‘it almost seems overwhelming the financial challenges I face,’ we are here for you,” Donnelly said. “When you have these challenges, we will be with you every step of the way.”
Petraeus said her office is there to help service members in the area of consumer financial products and services.
“We want to see that they get the financial education they need to make better informed consumer decisions, that their complaints to us are addressed, and that we keep track of the trends we see there,” Petraeus said.
She added that her family has a history of serving in the military, including her son who served in Afghanistan and her husband David Petraeus, former director of the CIA and a retired military officer.
She said the number one complaint so far – from military members and their families – has been mortgages with an increasing number of debt collection practices.
Petraeus said many members have been threatened to be de-ranked or have their security clearance pulled if they were unable to pay their debts.
Another issue her office deals with is high-interest loans provided to military members. She said one day she searched “military loans” on Google and received 17 million results with many using military-sounding names and patriotic language.
But they were very expensive loans with some having 300 to 400 percent interest. “Our job is to be conduits and voices for military members,” Donnelly said. He said new legislation was passed that caps interest rates on some loans at 36 percent.
Donnelly said 118 service members died in combat last year and 470 committed suicide.
“The two most damaging things to them – not just for those deployed but for those at home, too – are personal relationships and financial issues,” he said.
Many of the problems with personal relationships develop from having financial issues, he added.
“Financial problems are inextricably intertwined with a lot of the issues that are out there,” Petraeus said.
“Just coming home doesn’t take away all the challenges,” Donnelly said.
Complaints can be filed at www.consumerfinance.gov.