Defense Credit Union Council board members kicked off a year-long 50th anniversary celebration Feb. 24 while attending the DCUC’s Defense Issues Conference in Washington, D.C.
Formed in 1963 and established as a separate and distinct trade association from CUNA, the DCUC serves as the primary liaison to the Pentagon for credit unions operating on military bases worldwide.
“Back in the ’60s, credit unions serving the military came to the realization that their needs and challenges were unique when compared to their counterparts outside of the military gate,” said Arty Arteaga, president/CEO.
“Defense credit unions served a very mobile membership while others, a fixed membership, defined by their special employment groups,” Arteaga said. “Also, since defense credit unions were operating on Department of Defense military installations, they were subject to DOD policies governing those installations.”
The anniversary celebration will continue in April during DCUC’s sponsorship of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom’s 10-mile sister race for troops deployed overseas. The race, with benefits the Children’s Miracle Network, is slated to be held in Kuwait on April 7, the same day it takes place in the nation’s capital.
Arteaga recalled one of the very first accomplishments of this new trade association, convincing the Department of Defense to develop and publish a regulation for credit unions.
“We had credit unions operating on military bases as far back as 1928,” he said. “They needed logistical support from the Department of Defense, as well as assistance in the ways they delivered their financial services. In my opinion, helping the DOD to establish those specific regulations outlining how credit unions operate on bases was a pivotal moment for the association.”
During the past 50 years, the DCUC grew to where today the association and its CEO of 13 years are a frequent and welcomed guest at the Pentagon, often seen knocking on its office doors.
“I work very closely with the Pentagon; we’re their partners at the national level and our members are their partners at the installation level,” Arteaga said.
While Arteaga is quick to cite the assistance of the DCUC’s sister associations, he confidently asserts that there is only one trade association that delves deeply into the Department of Defense issues affecting on-base credit unions.
“I always say we are 10 miles deep in terms of DOD issues and our sister trades are 10 miles deep on national issues … we’re the only niche trade association that is expert in all matters surrounding credit unions on military bases, and given the number of credit unions on military bases supporting our troops, DOD civilians and their respective families, there’s still a great need for that expertise.”