<p>VIENNA, Va. – It’s not on his immediate radar screen, but Navy FCU President Brian McDonnell is keeping his options open for the possibility of applying “sometime in the future” to NCUA to allow the credit union to include in its field-of-membership all Navy and Marine Corps officers and enlisted personnel, regardless where they’re based. Actually, the word “reapplying” is more appropriate in this case. In the late 1970s, Navy FCU applied for – and was denied – permission from NCUA to expand its field-of-membership and serve any enlisted Navy or Marine Corp personnel wherever they are stationed. The explanation why: it would infringe on the fields-of-membership of other credit unions that also serve the Navy and Marine Corp. “I haven’t ruled out the possibility of reapplying,” said McDonnell. “Enlisted personnel should have the choice,” Roland Artega, president/CEO of the Defense Credit Union Council denied the Department of Defense’s “one on-site credit union or bank per base” gives a defense credit union a monopoly on a particular base and denies giving enlisted personnel the opportunity to choose which credit union they want to join. Artega explained the reasoning behind the DOD’s policy has to do with its recognition of the “risk” that’s involved with opening a branch on a base. “A credit union invests money setting up a branch and paying personnel, then many of them find themselves having to close up shop when the base is closed down. So the Department of Defense is saying, `if you’re willing to do this for us despite the risk, then this is what we’re willing to do for you.’ McDonnell said the “real” reason the Department of Defense doesn’t want more than one credit union or bank on a base is because “they don’t want to provide the logistical support, such as rent-free space that on-base financials get.” Besides that, said McDonnell, “NCUA determines who’s in a credit union’s field-of-membership, not the Department of Defense.” Navy FCU has $15.1 billion in assets and serves more than two million members. Enlisted and civilian eligibility for membership in the credit union depends on location. Specifically, Navy FCU’s field-of-membership includes: All Navy and Marine Corp officers worldwide; Enlisted Navy or Marine Corps personnel who are deployed on a ship or stationed overseas. Some of the enlisted FOM that join Navy FCU are in Great Lakes, Ill., which is an accession point for all new Navy enlisted recruits, and Parris Island, S.C., the east coast Marine Corps training site for enlisted personnel. However once a Navy or Marine enlisted personnel who is stationed at a base Navy FCU does not serve, is transferred to a base Navy FCU is allowed to serve, then they have the option to join the credit union. McDonnell said it’s not a matter of Navy FCU being allowed to be on a particular base, “it’s a matter of Navy or Marine Corps enlisted personnel being able to join the credit union if they want to.” “One of the least favorite things I have to do is try to explain to two young sailors at the same pay grade why one can be a member of Navy Federal and the other can’t join. You can’t talk to them about NCUA because they don’t understand that,” said McDonnell. Navy FCU finds itself in this position though when, for example, sailors go to car dealerships to purchase a vehicle and some find out they’re eligible to take advantage of a Navy FCU auto loan, while other sailors aren’t.” “They think you’re discriminating,” said McDonnell. “We don’t like to be placed in the position of telling enlisted personnel they can’t join us.” Even if NCUA denies Navy FCU field-of-membership overlap, McDonnell isn’t too concerned. Through mergers and overlap situations, he said, “There are very few military personnel who are not eligible for membership. It’s just a matter of time, eventually we get most of them anyway.” McDonald said he’s in no rush to expand Navy FCU’s FOM. For now, he’s still savoring the good year in 2001 the credit union enjoyed. According to CUNA year-end 2001 data, among the top 50 asset-size credit unions in the U.S., Navy FCU had the most loans outstanding in terms of total loan dollars – Navy FCU had more than $10 billion in loans outstanding as of Dec. 31, 2001. In terms of loan growth, NFCU’s loan amounts represent a 9% growth from year-end 2000 to year-end 2001. [email protected]</p>

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