Serving Those Who Serve

CUs face many challenges as they serve members deployed around the world.

August 10, 2011
KEYWORDS family , services , troops
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Maintaining relationships

Military credit unions work hard to maintain close relationships with bases, where military personnel are typically reassigned every two to three years. At F. E. Warren Air Force Base, $387 million asset Warren Federal Credit Union, Cheyenne, Wyo., partners with the Airman & Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) to support events and link airmen to financial resources when needed.

Marketing Manager Michele Bolkovatz says about half of the credit union’s members are linked to the military, with a field of membership that includes the Air Force, Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and civilian employees.

Warren FCU, which operated for its first 50 years in the base’s former jail and still has an on-base branch, introduces its services to new military members on the base on Wednesday mornings with its “Right Start” financial education program. 

Active-duty military that need help with their finances can join the “Combat Debt” program that runs in conjunction with Military Saves Week annually and is offered by Warren Federal and the A&FRC. Participants agree to spend three months working to reduce debt, set a savings goal, and work with the A&FRC’s financial coach. The team that makes the greatest progress wins $1,000. 

The credit union often steps in to offer services after the A&FRC makes a referral. For example, one active-duty military family was “underwater” when they sold their home by owing more than the home was worth. This meant the family had to bring $7,000 to the closing. The A&FRC suggested the family contact Warren FCU, which provided a signature loan to fill the gap.

Building loyal members is key so Warren FCU offers:

  • A Visa Rewards credit card with a variable interest rate of prime plus 3%, which currently translates to 6.25%. 
  • Free checking that pays up to 3.5% interest on balances up to $25,000 and refunds ATM fee charges when qualifications are met.
  • An “Accelerated Savings Account program” with a 5% interest rate on deposits up to $1,000 for airmen who set up an automatic allotment to savings.
  • Technology-based services that include mobile banking, text banking, online banking, and online account aggregation.

Bolkovatz says 40% of Warren FCU’s 38,000 members live out of state. Many of these remain active members of the military. Cheyenne is a popular retirement area, so some military members retain their memberships as part of their plans to return.

Next: Delivering value

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