EL PASO -- Holly Petraeus visited Fort Bliss to talk about loan companies and other businesses that prey on military families.
“It’s a readiness issue," said Patraeus. “The number one cause for service members losing their security clearance is for financial reasons.”
Patraeus is the assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and heads the Office of Service Member Affairs. The bureau partners with the Pentagon on consumer protection issues for military families.
Predatory lending is a major concern. Consider the terms of one soldier’s loan.
“He was going to have to pay $15,000 for $1,600. What Mrs. Petraeus is doing helping our soldiers is absolutely needed,” said Maj. Gen Dana Pittard, Ft. Bliss commander.
Soldiers can apply for a no-interest emergency loan.
Fort Bliss added “financial fitness” training to a plan to build resilience in troops. New recruits also take a mandatory money management class when they arrive.
“We bought a new car recently and the loan companies they’ll pretty much approve you for anything even though we’re low ranking, don’t make a lot of money,” said Maggie Phillips, whose husband is in the Air Force.
She and some other friends— also military wives—were having lunch with their children recently at Freedom Crossing, a mall at Fort Bliss.
Predatory lending companies target military families for a variety of reasons.
“As a solider, of course, they’re going to know your pay. “ said Alex Soto. “Everybody knows it.”
Loan companies also know military culture promotes responsibility including the paying of “just debts.”
And many service members are young and do not have experience managing money. The average age is 25.
“And they move a lot,” said Petraeus. “I myself moved 24 times in 37 years when my husband was on active duty. So you’re constantly walking into new communities where you don’t know the players.”
The high profile appearance by the retired general’s wife is one of the few since he left his job as CIA director. General David Petraeus resigned last fall after his extramarital affair with his biographer became part of a public scandal.
“I think it’s awesome and she’s back out doing stuff and willing to take care of us,” said Maggie Phillips, a military wife.