Financial Protection for Troops Topic at JBER as Holly Petraeus Visits
Each year hundreds of millions of dollars are swindled from young military service members
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON - Each year hundreds of millions of dollars are swindled from young military service members.
Whether it be 400 percent loans or just a bad deal, the Department of Defense wants to keep its troops on strong financial ground.
One of the people tasked with making that happen came to Anchorage – Holly Petraeus, CIA Director David Petraeus’s wife.
With over $1 billion in annual payroll, JBER troops are, like many in the military, too often a target for unscrupulous lenders – and it’s not a new problem.
“You know, I read a study a few years ago that was talking about payday loans, and it said some for mof payday loans has been around since the Roman Legions. And so I think there's always people who have been around who want to part you with your money," Petraeus said.
Holly Petraeus is the wife of current CIA director, retired Army General David Petraeus. She's charged with protecting the military from deals that could see their financial future go from sunny to troubled.
It's not only bad loans that can get you into trouble – everyday financial decisions loom large, especially for the young.
"We were one of those young military couples that had to have a hot car," Petraeus said.
As a new military couple, the Petraeuses bought a Jensen Healy – a British sports car. Flashy yes, but financially sensible?
“It was a nice car when it worked. I can tell you the names of all the car parts in Italian because the mechanic and I were very close friends by the end of our time over there because I had to replace almost all of them," she said.
But today's military is younger and in many ways less experienced with building a strong financial future.
"Our service members are young people, a lot of them right out of high school. They are 18 years old, they don't know how to balance a checkbook, they don't know how to handle a big dome of money, you know, they have never had that before," said Meghan Wieten-Scott, a military spouse.
But that is changing.
"Education is out there. To see our young soldiers and airmen getting the education they need to plan better. That is the same this we are doing for our daughters," CW3 Ishmael Ramos, new to JBER, said.
Still, some newer troops are still getting taken advantage of, often paying more for a used car than many people pay for a new one.
"And that's just due to really high interest from certain companies that are just out there to take money away from young soldiers,” said Private James Bolin.
Petraeus and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Agency are tasked with making sure our troops stay predators on the battlefield, and avoid becoming prey on the home front.
Debt is also a big factor in financial health.
According to an Air Force study, recruits arriving for duty at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas, already had an average debt of $10,000 each.