Military Saves Week at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

By Melanie Casey on February 17, 2015

Learning to manage money is no easy task. It's not easy when you don't have any, and it can be just as difficult when you actually, finally have some extra cash to manage. The Financial Readiness Program on Joint Base Lewis-McChord is hosting a series of events Feb. 23 to 26 in conjunction with Military Saves Week to help members of the military understand some of the financial issues specific to them.

Thursday, Feb. 26, Holly Petraeus will be the featured speaker at a Military Saves Week Town Hall, which will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the American Lake Conference Center. As the assistant director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Petraeus is all too aware of some of the scams and fraudulent practices that target servicemembers and their families.

Town Hall topics will include consumer challenges such as predatory debt collection tactics, deceptive college recruiting practices and identity theft, scams and fraud.

"She's looking out for the military," said Mary Cron, Financial Program manager at Armed Forces Community Service on JBLM, "and the things the military may experience with businesses as a consumer."

Military life is unique in ways that may open the door for scams and fraudulent business practices. Deployments, frequent PCS moves and emergencies can lead to difficulties - particularly for younger military families - that can lead to dire consequences financially. Furthermore, some deceptive vendors take advantage of military families by appealing to their sense of service, a practice known as "affinity marketing."

"Younger [military] families basically are targets for predatory vendors," Cron said. "They get targeted the most. But we all know that just because you get older and wiser, there are still people that can take advantage of you."

So how are families to know which businesses are legitimate and which aren't? How can they learn to recognize the signs of fraudulent business practices? And if they've already been taken advantage of, where can they turn?

The town hall will feature remarks by Petraeus, who will explain her role at the CPSD, a government organization that strives to educate consumers about abusive practices, enforce Federal consumer laws and analyze information to better understand consumers and financial markets.

She will then open a question and answer session that will help servicemembers find the answers they need.

The idea, said Cron, is to teach servicemembers how to empower themselves with the knowledge about what's going on so they don't fall victim to a scam, and let them know where to turn if they do.

In addition to the Town Hall on Feb. 26, Military Saves Week on JBLM also features a series of Boot Camp classes Feb. 23 and 25 at Stone Education Center and Feb. 24 at McChord Field Education Center. Morning and afternoon sessions will feature topics such as Finding Money to Save (Budgeting), Thrift Savings Plan, Cost of Credit/Credit Reporting and Basics of Car Buying.

Family members, retirees, DoD civilians and members of the public who have base access are invited. All events are free, but reservations are required.

Finally, the Financial Program is challenging all military units on JBLM to take the
Saver's Pledge. "Pledge cards can only be obtained with a one-on-one appointment or attending one of the classes," Cron said. The unit with the highest percentage of savers will be announced at the Town Hall.

For more information or to RSVP for any of these Military Saves Week events, visit the JBLM Financial Readiness Program website. Users can also sign up for one of the many fiscal fitness classes offered each month.