Army recognizes bank and credit union branches as best of 2015

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Sept. 06, 2016) -- The Army recently named two financial institutions that operate on its installations as the best among their peers in 2015.

The Fort Hood, Texas branch of Pentagon Federal Credit Union and the Fort Riley, Kansas branch of Armed Forces Bank were recognized as Army credit union and bank of the year for 2015. The two were among 22 nominees to be judged according to criteria set by the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for financial operations.

The Army recently named two financial institutions that operate on its installations as being the best among their peers in 2015. Of the 22 nominees, the Fort Hood, Texas, branch of Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and the Fort Riley, Kansas, branch of Armed Forces Bank, best met and exceeded the criteria set by the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for financial operations, or DASA(FO), to become the Army credit union and bank of the year for 2015.

"The importance of having the financial institutions on post, it's really for the young Soldiers' financial education," said Maj. Gen. David C. Coburn, commander of the Army Financial Management Command, who handed out the awards.

"And one of the big things they are doing now, as I just learned as we were going through the nomination packets, is to provide a lot of help with predatory banking, with the payday loans."

Financial institutions on Army installations also provide financial education to Soldiers, Coburn said, and financial education promotes financial readiness.

"When a Soldier is not worried about what is going on at home financially, or worried about putting food or milk on the table, they can do their job, whether it's in garrison or out in the field," Coburn said.

SERVING FORT HOOD

"Pentagon Federal Credit union" continues to be a primary resource for Fort Hood Soldiers and their families for financial matters," wrote Col. Todd M. Fox, garrison commander, when nominating the institution for recognition.

Fort Hood is the largest active-duty post in the U.S. More than 74,000 Soldiers, family members and Department of Defense contractors are associated with the installation.

In 2015, the Fort Hood branch of Pentagon Federal Credit Union provided more than $1.5 million in interest-free "micro loans" to Fort Hood Soldiers as part of their "Asset Recovery Kit" program to counteract the effects of payday lending. The branch provided 2,472 such loans to Soldiers. It also offered Soldiers car loans with interest rates as low as 1.49 percent, and provided financial readiness briefings to more than 500 Soldiers.

As part of its involvement with the community around Fort Hood, the branch "adopted" Fort Hood's middle school and Bronco Youth Center and conducted a school supply drive. The branch conducted money management presentations for the school students. The effort yielded more than $300 worth of school supplies.

"These are just a few of the ways that [Pentagon Federal Credit Union] strives to take care of Soldiers, families and civilians on and around the Fort hood community," Fox wrote.

BANK SERVES FORT RILEY

At Fort Riley, Kansas, Soldiers can conduct banking operations n the Armed Forced Bank branch at the post exchange as late as 8 p.m., six days a week and until 7 p.m. on Sunday.

"One of the niche things we have is that seven-day-a-week banking," said John P. Baeuchle, executive vice president of Armed Forces Bank. "We can bank a Soldier whenever they need to be banked."

In 2015, the Armed Forces Bank branch at Fort Riley provided financial education to more than 5,000 Soldiers on topics like savings, budgeting basics, debt reduction and credit. For the Fort Riley School District, the bank offered "money matters" courses to 2,850 students, on topics such as the importance of banking, saving and budgeting basics.

"I think we're a true partner to Fort Riley," observed Baeuchle. "I think mostly it's being engaged and understanding the military."

The Army bank of the year winner was recognized Aug. 30 at the 2016 Association of Military Banks of America conference in Middleburg, Virginia, while the Army credit union of the year winner was recognized Aug. 16 at the 2016 Defense Credit Union Council conference in Boston.