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WASHINGTON – Military-linked credit unions were girding for “better or worse” last week as the U.S. Defense Department was preparing to finally disclose the proposed base closing list as recommended by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. “Many of us will be relieved-some will be disappointed and others will be shocked,” forecast the Defense Credit Union Council in a member alert sent out prior to the expected BRAC announcement officially due for public comment May 16. With BRAC recommendations still requiring approval by President Bush before being finalized Sept. 23, scores of military-tied CUs joined by local businessmen have been in an extended period of hand-wringing-as well as quiet lobbying and diplomacy with lawmakers to bar or limit facility closures or realignments. “The tension and anxiety mounting over the past three years of speculation and `war gaming’ will soon come to an end,” observed the DCUC alert signed by Roland “Arty” Arteaga, president/CEO. The “hypotheticals and second guessing,” he wrote, have captured the interest not only of CU executives but also consultants, analysts and community coalitions. “I have to admit I go on the Defense Department Web site every day,” conceded Frank Padak, president of the $370 million Scott CU, Collinsville, with more than 20% of its member base drawn from the nearby Scott Air Force Base. For years the air base has been rumored to be on the chopping block and thus it was not surprising when Scott moved to a community charter and diversified though it still retains one of its nine offices on the base. Padak said he has been in touch with local Congressmen “who have always been very concerned” about the fate of the base but this time “they are optimistic.” And still “nobody knows for sure-there is no guarantee,” he said. Like Scott CU, Service CU in Portsmouth, N.H. – the home of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard-has had years to prepare for its possible closing by changing its field of membership in 2004 to include U.S. military bases worldwide including 13 in Germany. The FOM changes and a high-tech turnaround to reach military personnel around the globe have proved beneficial to the $950 million Service CU, said Ray Springsteen, vice president of member services. And yet a possible closing “would have an impact” on local operations though “we are still a credit union with a diverse membership.” In its member alert, the Defense Council detailed the process of hearings and community visits by BRAC and lawmakers noting CUs should prepare for the impact statements and other relevant information. In its weekly press briefing, NAFCU’s Joe Boyle, director of planning, programming and special projects, said the BRAC recommendations naturally raise widespread volatility and consternation within the business and financial communities. And on that front, NAFCU noted it has 71 defense CU members and it “will be checking to see which ones are impacted once the list comes out.” [email protected]

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