ARLINGTON, Va.-On May 6, two credit union representatives told a Department of Defense hearing that they supported its proposal to update rules concerning personal commercial solicitations on military bases. The Department of Defense initially held hearings on the proposal for Directive 1344.7 in August 2003, which targets unethical insurance sales practices on military bases, and has been held up by the insurance lobby since then, according to Defense Credit Union Council President and CEO Roland “Arty” Arteaga. The proposal was released in April 2005. At the May 6 hearing, only a dozen witnesses appeared to testify, compared with about 50 at the first hearing, seven of who were from the insurance industry, NAFCU Director of Planning, Programming, and Special Projects Joe Boyle pointed out. The hearing also garnered a reporter from the New York Times in the audience. Though NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker noted he would prefer the rule go further in recognizing the role of on-base financial institutions, he told the department that he appreciated the acknowledgement of on-base credit unions providing financial counseling services, restricting financial presentations by outside entities, and restricting sales of insurance on base. “NAFCU is pleased to see the inclusion of proposed policy changes in the proposed directive specifically sanctioning the use of on-base financial institutions and restricting other organizations, particularly other non-profit, tax-exempt, private organizations from providing financial education on base,” he said. Becker added that NAFCU supported aspects of DoD’s proposal to prevent the use of commercial sponsorships of DoD programs to obtain personal information; prohibit insurance products from being disguised as investments; ban the use of military identification or vehicle decals to get on base for solicitation; and require reports of solicitation policy violations to higher headquarters. “It would be unconscionable for anyone to deny the basic tenets of this rule, for as stated within, the purpose of DoDD 1344.7 is to “safeguard and promote the welfare of DoD personnel,” to take care of the very soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coastguardsmen-active and reserve-that are standing in harm’s way fighting the Nation’s war on terrorism,” Arteaga, who testified May 6 on behalf of DCUC and CUNA, stated at the hearing, “Your proposed rule strengthens the procedures on personal commercial solicitation to the extent of ensuring that our troops, especially our junior enlisted personnel, are treated fairly and justly.[DCUC] strongly supports and encourages financial education and training and we believe you authorized on-base credit unions and military banks can do it best.” DCUC represents approximately 260 defense credit unions. In written remarks to Director of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Colonel Michael A. Pachuta from the office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, who presided over the hearing, Becker wrote, “NAFCU fully supports the proposed rules regarding personal commercial solicitation on DoD installations. NAFCU believes that such rules are extremely important to the welfare and security of on-base personnel who willingly risk their lives to defend our Nation.” NAFCU, which counts 71 defense credit unions among its membership, also plans to submit further comments before the June 20 deadline. Becker, himself, is retired from the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s office. DCUC will also provide written comments by the deadline. Public comment is due to DoD by June 20. Boyle said DOD representatives have indicated that they expect to publish a rule in late October or early in November. [email protected]

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