Tester: Petraeus’ Montana visit ‘opened troops’ eyes’

Head of agency protecting servicemembers from consumer abuse meets Montana troops, business leaders

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester this month brought the nation’s top watchdog for protecting America’s servicemembers from consumer abuse to Montana. 

Holly Petraeus, who heads the Office of Servicemember Affairs for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, joined Tester to discuss financial protection with over 450 Airmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base amid reports that American troops are frequent targets of financial scams. 

The pair also participated in roundtable talks with community leaders in Great Falls and Helena, and with National Guard leaders at Fort Harrison.  Tester said too many servicemembers are being victimized by financial schemes that range from predatory loans to fee manipulation.

“It’s outrageous and flat-out shameful to take advantage of our men and women in uniform, and Holly’s visit went a long way in opening troops’ eyes to the dangers out there,” Tester said.  “Montana’s troops and their families make great sacrifices for this country and it’s my duty, along with the business community, to hold individuals accountable for their actions.” 

Every year, thousands of service members and their families fall deeply into debt from scams – often because they move frequently or get deployed.  At Malmstrom, Tester and Petraeus heard numerous cases of landlords charging artificially high rents and extreme fees to break leases.

"I was pleased to be in Montana with Senator Tester and Attorney General Bullock to hear firsthand from National Guard members, community leaders and active-duty members at Malmstrom Air Force Base,” said Petraeus, who has been actively involved in military family advocacy for 30 years and is married to CIA Director and retired four-star General David Petraeus.  “I appreciate the input and suggestions I heard, and will do my best to incorporate them into our efforts at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau." 

Tester and Petraeus encouraged community and military leaders to make servicemembers and their families aware of financial dangers.  They also informed troops about available resources and ways to report abuses.

Attorney General Steve Bullock, who is in charge of consumer protection in Montana, joined Tester and Petraeus throughout the day that began with a National Guard roundtable at Fort Harrison before the trek to Great Falls to meet Airmen and community leaders.

Tester is a fierce defender of Montana’s and America’s men and women in uniform.  In 2011, he pushed to strengthen penalties for violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in the wake of Wall Street firm JP Morgan Chase admitting to Congress that it overcharged more than 4,500 families and foreclosed on dozens of homes.

A copy of Tester’s legislation is available on his website, HERE.

Click HERE for pictures of Holly Petraeus’ visit to Montana.