- ‘I Am Alive’ app gains popularity in terror-ravaged Lebanon
- Gun giveaways gain popularity among Republican candidates
- S.C. hospital worker slapped with $525 federal fine for refilling $0.89 soda
- Teen from ‘Jihad Jane’ plot becomes youngest ever to serve time on U.S. terror charges
- Iranian woman forgives son’s killer at the gallows
- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
- John Edwards back in court — this time as a lawyer for Va. boy’s malpractice case
- Covered California reports more than 200K in overtime Obamacare sign-ups
- Thanks, Chuck: Hagel says U.S. sending Ukraine sleeping mats, helmets
Hearing focuses on challenges active troops and veterans face
The financial challenges of active military and veterans took center stage Tuesday during a congressional hearing on efforts to improve consumer protection for the military community.
In front of a capacity audience, senators on the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs spoke with officials about the struggles service members face, particularly with home mortgage payments and apartment leases.
“It is important to remember that military consumers differ from other consumers,” said Sen. Tim Johnson, South Dakota Democrat and the committee’s chairman. “The military lifestyle requires frequent relocations, forcing spouses to find new employment and families to sell their homes.
“[Service members] must be certain that family members have appropriate access to family finances in order to handle financial needs in their absence.”
Holly Petraeus, the assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said housing remains a problem for service members across the country, noting that the housing crisis affected many of the states with the most military bases.
Even so, Mrs. Petraeus highlighted a decision made last week by the Federal Housing Finance Authority which will offer some solace to military families with an “underwater” home - property with a mortgage higher than its current value. The decision allows any active-duty service member being permanently restationed to escape payments on the property. The property is put up for a short sale, and the family is not held liable for additional mortgage costs.
“In recent years, a number of service members have seen no viable alternative but to leave their family in their ‘underwater’ house and go alone to their new duty station, which may mean a separation of three years or more,” said Mrs. Petraeus, the wife of retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now director of the CIA.
“I am hopeful this new guidance will change that.”
The hearing also addressed ongoing violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), a law last amended in 2003 that guards active military from the stress of financial burdens. Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat and a panel member, proposed a series of amendments last month to close loopholes in the act and improve its enforcement.
One of Mr. Reed’s amendments would prohibit landowners from charging military members a fee for breaking an apartment lease in order to live on a base. SCRA currently protects members of military who are being deployed from lease penalties, but not those on waiting lists for on-base housing.
Another proposal would grant the spouse of a deceased service member nine months of foreclosure protection following the death of their partner. Currently, the law gives service members and their families nine months of foreclosure protectionafter a return from an overseas deployment.
Mr. Reed’s bill is currently before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Team Obama's bizarre behavior helps Gitmo terrorists foil justice
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Obama taunts GOP, takes nationally televised victory lap on Obamacare
- Joe Biden's first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
- Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch wrecked by retreating feds
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Brewer signs 1 of 4 pro-gun bills passed Wednesday
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.