By Bill Addison
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
MCGUIRE, N.J. - Holly Petraeus, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau assistant director for the Office of Service member Affairs, hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday at the Timmermann Center here.
Petraeus addressed the joint base community on the role of the CFPB, the resources they offer and how they are helping service members make smarter consumer decisions.
She also discussed various methods on how service members can prevent themselves from becoming victims of scams and rip-offs.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to be able to articulate the military’s concerns in Washington and to work with other federal and state agencies to see if something can be done about the issues that impact service members,” said Petraeus.
Petraeus, wife of retired Army General David Petraeus, said that one of her primary concerns is the current housing market.
“For those military members who own a home and then get perminant change of station orders and the home is no longer what they owe on it, that’s been a real challenge,” she said.
New Jersey Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Chiesa, joined her to hear concerns of families and service members and to educate them on ways to make sound financial decisions. The focus of the visit was to ensure that military members and their families receive the education they need to make sound financial decisions; ensure that complaints and questions from military families are monitored and responded to, and that federal and state agencies coordinate their activities to improve consumer protection measures.
"Educating and protecting members of the military from investment and financial scams is a priority for us," Chiesa said. "We have no tolerance for those who see our servicemen and servicewomen as targets to defraud."
Chiesa also provided copies of “A Salute to Smart Investing,” a free brochure targeted to service members from the New Jersey Bureau of Securities.
The event kicked off Military Saves Week — a national campaign geared toward motivating and encouraging military families to save money monthly. Petraeus noted that Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst was the ideal place to kick off the event.
“You’ve got Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard here, what a perfect place to talk about the importance of savings with the military,” said Petraeus.
Her advice to young service members was to start saving now, and to not touch their savings if they can help it, stating that if they leave it alone it will grow for them.
The advice of Petraeus and Chiesa wasn’t lost on the crowd.
Petty Officer 1st Class Brandi Jasso of the 87th Force Support Squadron, was among the spectators, and stated that programs like this are important to educate service members about making financial decisions. The Somerset, Pa. native and mother of three has noticed an increased focus on financial education within the military.
Jasso had a bad experience buying a car herself five years ago, and has since worked hard to ensure the junior enlisted members under her don’t make the same mistakes.
“We actually talk to sailors who are looking to buy a car and we want to make sure they are not getting that high interest rate,” said Jasso.
Like many, Jasso also felt the pinch of the housing downturn, finding herself underwater in her mortgage. Luckily she and her family were able to qualify for the Homeowners Assistance Program, and were able to sell their house last year at market value without incurring a loss.
“I can proudly say I’m not a homeowner anymore,” she said.
Mrs. Petraeus was selected to establish the office of service member affairs at the CFPB in January of last year. She knows firsthand the strains facing America’s military and their families. She has previously served as the director of the Better Business Bureau’s Military Line program.
For high-resolution images, please visit www.flickr.com/photos/jointbasemdl. For more information, please contact the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs Office at (609)754-2685.