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The recent Veterans Day holiday marked the cessation of combat in The Great War in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Our nation’s veterans deserve to be honored, hallowed, respected and remembered. At the time, World War I was referred to as the war to end all wars. Little did they know.Credit unions face a different trench warfare based on similar principles-optimism and helping those who need it. Credit unions are not charities like many nonprofit organizations but cooperatives that offer assistance to their members. Credit unions through their very existence do not hand out fish but teach people to fish. This fundamental is crucial and for that, credit unions should be saluted.In addition to their primordial mission, credit unions also do more than their share of charity work. We feature these acts many weeks within the pages of Credit Union Times.Most recently, credit unions stepped up to immediately offer aid to the Fort Hood shooting victims and their families. (See our coverage, page 6) Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which has a branch on the base, donated $5,000 to the Fort Hood Chaplain’s Fund, while its foundation has arranged for vehicles for families traveling in the area and worked on finding housing for visitors. The Texas league foundation established an account at Texas Partners CU for making donations and kicking in its own contribution.Not only are these credit unions and related groups contributing, but after posting this story online (cutimes.com/News/2009/11/Pages/CUs-Donate-to-Fort-Hood-Victims-.aspx), we received phone calls and e-mails from credit unions inquiring how they could contribute. (Send contributions to Texas Partners Federal CU, Attn: Fort Hood Support, 1011 Wales Drive, Killeen, TX 76549). The empathy and compassion of the credit union movement is astonishing, particularly in times when some credit unions are trying to figure out how to stay above water.And, there’s not many more beautiful PR story to tell than that of Gesa Credit Union and HAPO Community CU in Washington last week. The two credit unions covered the rear end of none other than U.S. Bank after it had messed up payroll deposits. (See online-only coverage: cutimes.com/News/2009/11/Pages/Gesa-Covers-Banks-Payroll-Glitch.aspx). Fulfilling a mission while assisting members due to a banks’ let down-the stars aligned and these credit unions reached out and grabbed them.I’m certain there are more stories like these out in the credit union community. Please take advantage of them.Stories like those highlighted above will help deflect statements of those who would like to do credit unions harm. Case in point, Keith Leggett is using a study from last month (by a former CUNA staffer no less!) to make the case against the credit union tax-exemption. (Yes, I realize last week I called him a smart guy, but smart people can disagree.) Leggett’s Nov. 9 blog (creditunionwatch.blogspot.com) entry advocated, based on a study conclusion: “Therefore, the study concludes that taxpayers would benefit from credit unions paying taxes just like other businesses including cooperatives. Instead of a one-size fits all tax exemption, the study recommends the use of tax credits, which would be targeted at the credit union’s mission of serving people of modest means. For credit unions that are meeting their public policy purpose, the tax credit would offset any tax liability.”I’m not saying I agree with this, but it sounds rational enough based on the findings of this slanted study by a fairly reputable person.Policy makers need to know several things coming out of this: 1) While serving people of modest means is part of the credit union mission, it’s not their only mission; 2) Modest means does not mean the very low-income or destitute, and the mission does not require only serving those of modest means; 3) Credit unions are limited in their fields of membership; and 4) all of these other things listed above that credit unions do to serve their members of all income levels.The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is holding an event here in the nation’s capital on Dec. 3 (See our preview, page 8) to discuss CRA and related subjects. This is an excellent opportunity to grab the attention of the government regarding all the works credit unions do without having to be forced into it like the CRA-covered banks.–Comments? E-mail [email protected]

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