Defense Credit Union Council: Pentagon Study Is a Victory for Industry
Findings in report bolster credit union effort to maintain rent free status on military installations.
A long-awaited Defense Department (DoD) report that concludes servicemembers do not lack access to banking services on military installations is being hailed as a victory for credit unions in their ongoing battle with banks over rent benefits on those bases.
“It’s a different playing field now,” said Anthony Hernandez, president/CEO of the Defense Credit Union Council, as the report was circulated Monday.
Under federal law, credit unions—but not banks—receive free rent on military bases as long as 95% of the credit union’s members are current or former federal employees.
Banks have long argued this limits access to traditional financial services. They contend that the credit union access is unfair and that they, too, should receive free rent benefits.
Hernandez said he and other credit union trade groups, armed with the report, will continue to oppose those efforts.
Findings in the Report
Last year, the House Armed Services Committee asked the Pentagon to study whether servicemembers lack access to banking services.
“This report demonstrates that service members and their families are not limited in their options for access to financial services on-base, online and off-base,” the DoD concluded in the report.
In another one of the report’s conclusions, the DoD said that “This report also highlights that military personnel and civilians increasingly have the option of obtaining banking services online and/or off-base and are not restricted in their selection of financial institutions with which to conduct business.”
In addition, the report stated that the Pentagon has not received complaints from commanders or secretaries of the military that financial services are not readily available.
“As of July, 2022, there are no domestic DoD installations lacking adequate access through on installation and off installation means,” the findings read.
Hernandez said he appreciates the unanimity among credit union trade groups that have lobbied hard on the issue.
But he added that he fully expects banking trade groups to continue the fight, stating, “I don’t know that this is THE victory."