Consumer protections for servicemembers and veterans

Published: Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Linda Williams was invited to a roundtable discussion on the CFPB's work on June 12

While the Treasury Department, the administration and many in Congress are seeking to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Bureau staff are meeting with consumer groups to educate them on the critically important services the Bureau provides.

Consumer Action’s community outreach and training manager Linda Williams, a member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition, received an invitation from the Coalition to attend a roundtable discussion on the CFPB’s work to address the unique financial and marketplace issues plaguing veterans. The roundtable was held at San Diego’s Town and Country hotel on June 12. Paul Kantwill, assistant director of the CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs (OSA), and Anthony Camilli, veteran outreach specialist at OSA, both spoke at the event.

Kantwill led the discussion by providing an overview of OSA's number one mission: education and outreach to servicemembers and veterans. He outlined both the ways in which servicemembers’ complaints are monitored by the CFPB and the financial coaching services the CFPB offers them.

Kanwill also discussed the Department of Defense’s (DoD) new military lifecycle program and how the CFPB is using it to focus its expertise and efforts on assisting servicemembers with the specific financial hurdles they face throughout various stages of their military careers and beyond. For example, Kantwill explained that the Bureau has created the Delayed Entry Program, an initiative that is designed to reach recruits prior to basic training to offer education on smart consumer decision-making around money, credit transactions and debt management. The program features an online graphic novel experience that incorporates interactive scenario-based learning. The goal is to teach future servicemembers that they can avoid common financial mistakes.

Kantwill was chosen to lead the CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs earlier this year—a decision that consumer advocates applauded due to his 25-year military career with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), where he served in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. He also served as the DoD’s legal policy expert on the financial industry’s effects on military members and their families.

Over 25 members of the San Diego Veterans Coalition accepted the invitation to learn more about the services offered to servicemembers, veterans and their families. Williams and other members of the Coalition left the meeting with a better understanding of not only the CFPB’s services but how to use the tools on its website, including its complaint database, virtual trainings and lists of state resources.

 

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