Posts Tagged Office of Servicemember Affairs
Posted by in Family Matters on December 28, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
Dec. 28, 2011
Family Matters Blog
It’s that time of year when top 10 lists seem to proliferate across nearly every web and news page in the nation, proclaiming everything from the best movies and TV shows to the most memorable photos and celebrities of the year.
Since I find it tough to encapsulate a year’s worth of information into a tidy list, I typically steer away from the concept. However, this was such a momentous year for military families that I decided it was time to hop on the list-making bandwagon.
So, here’s my top 10 most memorable military family moments of 2011. It’s certainly not all-inclusive, but I’m hoping it at least hits the highlights.
10. JR Martinez – Warrior Inspiration. This Army veteran and wounded warrior danced his way to the top spot on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” — and inspired a nation with his strength and resilience along the way. In 2003, Martinez was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, suffering severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body. He went on to share his story with audiences nationwide. In 2008, he landed a role as an Iraq war veteran on the ABC soap opera, “All My Children,” which led to his “Dancing with the Stars” appearances this year.
“I have been able to be a role model and a voice for a lot of [troops] who don’t feel that they have a voice for themselves,” Martinez said during a Pentagon Channel interview. “I’ve been able to be a source of inspiration to the families as well, to say good things do happen and you’ve just got to be patient and have a great attitude.”
Martinez recently scored another big win: he and his girlfriend, Diana Gonzalez-Jones, are expecting their first child, a girl, in the spring.
Posted by in Family Matters on December 6, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
Dec. 6, 2011
Last night I hopped on the Internet with the intention of buying a few gifts. Money, as always, is tight, so I figured I could go bargain hunting without wasting time or gas.
As colorful, enticing images of gift possibilities danced across the screen, I swiftly shot from site to site, half a dozen windows open at a time, comparing prices and swooping in to buy more and more.
I felt exhilarated. I was spending guilt-free for the first time in years. I was clicking buttons rather than forking out cash, and that’s OK, right?
My bank account told another story when I accessed it later that night.
Today I learned I had fallen victim to a phenomenon known in some financial circles as “budget fatigue.”
Posted by in Family Matters on August 1, 2011
By Elaine Sanchez
Aug. 1, 2011
Last week I sat down with Holly Petraeus, wife of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, to discuss her role as chief of the new Office of Servicemember Affairs, which officially opened for business last week as the military arm of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The office is intended to protect service members and their families from financial predators and pitfalls through education and enforcement of state and federal laws. Mrs. Petraeus, an Army spouse and longtime financial advocate for military families, was tapped to head up the office earlier this year.
As we talked, Mrs. Petraeus’ passion for the topic of families and finance was evident. Helping troops and their families is more than just a job to her, she told me — it’s personal.
“I’ve lived in this military community my whole life; I have a real heart for these people,” she said. “They’re all raised their hand to do what they do, often at the risk of their lives.”
The office will work to ensure service members and their families receive the financial protection and education they deserve through a threefold mission, Mrs. Petraeus explained. First, it will ensure military personnel are given a quality financial education, she said, “so they’re wise to consumer issues and can avoid the pitfalls out there.”
The office also will monitor consumer complaints and the response to those complaints, she said, and work with other federal and state agencies to help resolve issues.
Although the office is new, Mrs. Petraeus already has taken steps to help families. She recently signed a statement of principles with the judge advocate general of each branch of service to open the lines of communication and to ensure every financially related complaint is addressed. She also has established an informal partnership with the Veterans Affairs Department to help address mortgage and foreclosure issues. People who call her office with mortgage troubles will be referred to a VA home loan assistance program counselor for advice, even when it’s not regarding a VA loan.
Mrs. Petraeus told me she’s thrilled to be in a position where she can help military members and their families.
“My ultimate dream is that no service member signs a contract that they end up regretting for years or signing one that isn’t fair,” she said. “We can write rules and enforce at CFPB, and I’d love to see the real bad actors that go after service members — break the law to harm them financially — I’d like to see them enforced against.”
For more on my interview with Mrs. Petraeus, read my American Forces Press Service articles: “Holly Petraeus Works to Protect Military Families’ Finances” and “New Office Aims to Strengthen Families Financially.”
And please don’t hesitate to write in if you have a lesson learned or tip to share on finances for military families.