Note: Cross-posted at Daily Kos.
I was the little sister. When I was three, my oldest brother, Don Reed, left for the military, followed in a few years by my brother John, and a few years later by my brother David. We were proud of “the boys,” as they were always called in our family. Proud, but always aware of what a military commitment meant.
Don Reed served 288 combat missions in Vietnam, and John was posted to North Africa. David stayed stateside, but he was separated from his young bride shortly after they were married. I’m proud to come from a military family and to honor the courage, dedication, and sacrifice of our soldiers and their families.
My mother always watched for the mailman. When a letter came from one of the boys, the day was extra sunny. She would read and re-read the note, then call my Aunt Max or my grandmother to read it out loud. On letter days, she always met my father at the door with the note in hand. “We got a letter today!” He never had to ask who sent it. Her face said it was from one of my brothers. For now, everyone was safe.
Years later, when I was helping to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I made the Office of Servicemember Affairs a top priority. I talked with military families and visited military bases—including the base where my brothers had done their basic training so many years ago. The conversations made it clear that today’s military families face unique and difficult financial challenges—multiple moves, deployments, and lenders targeting them with deceptive, unfair, and predatory practices.
We worked hard to create an advocate and watchdog for our men and women in uniform. As part of that effort, we visited military bases around the country and talked personally with servicemembers and their families about the challenges they face—the difficulty of raising a family when a parent is deployed, the frequent moves all around the country, the payday and predatory lenders that try to sell them on complicated financial schemes.
Some of them even told us that they felt like they were fighting two wars at once—one in a distant war zone and another at home against the creditors.
The Office of Servicemembers Affairs is now up and running, and it is working hard to make a difference for military families. Just last month, the new office announced a joint effort with state Attorneys General and the Department of Defense to create the Repeat Offenders Against Military Database (ROAM)—tracking companies and individuals who repeatedly target the military community with scams.
At home and abroad, our men and women in uniform—and their families—are tough, smart, and resourceful people. Just as I have always been proud of my brothers and their service, I’m proud to be here today with Netroots For The Troops.