The hits to veterans just keep on coming in the latest round of administration policy rollbacks and cuts to our earned benefits and protections from fraud. And once again, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is at the center of the controversy.
In May, we warned you of changes coming to the CFPB, which is charged with protecting consumers from unfair and fraudulent practices by businesses, banks, and really anybody that takes your money. Interim Director Mick Mulvaney announced then that the office of student loan protection at CFPB would be closing. As veterans, we are particularly vulnerable to predatory lending by for-profit schools so this was a serious blow to student veterans since the student loan protection office specializes in protecting current and past students from bad actors in the student loan sector.
Last month, we warned you that the Department of Defense issued a damaging new policy that will limit the ability of troops to transfer their hard-earned Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their family members. This new restriction impacts service members with more than 16 years of service and is a completely unnecessary attack on this critical benefit, ultimately hurting our military recruitment and readiness. IAVA, the leading voice of the Post-9/11 generation of veterans, has long been a leader on creating, supporting and defending the GI Bill, and called on Secretary Mattis to immediately reverse the policy. Over 42,000 people of all backgrounds have signed IAVA’s petition to put veterans and their families first, instead of creating barriers to access deserved benefits.
This week’s attack on veterans comes from plans to suspend routine examinations of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act, which was passed into law by broad bipartisan majorities to protect servicemembers and our families from financial fraud, predatory loans, and credit card gouging. Interim Director Mulvaney intends to purge the use of these supervisory examinations of lenders, arguing that such proactive oversight is not explicitly laid out in the legislation, the main consumer measure protecting active duty servicemembers. But we know that servicemembers are four times more likely to be targeted by predatory lenders and are in desperate need of stringent oversight and protection measures from fraud. If you need further proof, just look down the main drag of any street leading into a military post, full of payday lenders and car dealerships who prey on young troops with little or no credit, but a steady paycheck to spend.
This is beyond problematic, since the CFPB has returned more than $130 million to service members, veterans and their families and handled more than 72,000 complaints per year since its creation in 2011. And we cannot afford to lose any government oversight or protection for our already vulnerable population.
We must let President Trump know that these changes to CFPB are harmful to veterans. And you can sign here to let Secretary Mattis know that the change to DoD GI Bill transferability policy is unjust.