McLean Urges House Armed Services Committee Members to Reject Expanded Bank Access to Military Bases

Association President/CEO Ron McLean


Association President/CEO Ron McLean advocated before the members of our congressional delegations serving on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee for help in rejecting the inclusion of any language in the FY 2020 NDAA that would go beyond the Department of Defense’s current authority regarding exemptions from the costs related to leases, utilities, and services on military bases for financial institutions. Local credit unions are opposed to a proposed amendment by Representative Trent Kelly (R-MS) regarding the treatment of credit unions and banks for on-base services.

The Association respectfully asked Massachusetts Congressmen Moulton, Trahan and Keating, as well as Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin for NO votes to this amendment.

If passed, the amendment will provide a new revenue base for the for-profit depository at the expense of the military personnel. Additionally, as it stands today, subject to base commander approval, banks are allowed to provide services on base, as are credit unions. The only difference is, under the Federal Credit Union Act, credit unions are eligible to be rent-free versus banks, which are not. Concern exists to benefit for-profit entities at the expense of the American Solider.

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, owned and operated by members, formed to promote thrift among and create a source of credit for provident and productive purposes. Because our operating model and structure is different from for-profit depository institutions, we are opposed to Mr. Kelly’s Amendment.

The fundamental differences between credit unions and for-profit financial institutions are the operating model and direction of the profits. Credit unions direct all funds not utilized for operational and compliance purposes back to our members in the form of higher savings rates on deposits, lower interest rates on lending and in some instances direct dividends to members. This has both a direct impact on members, as well as an indirect benefit to the communities in which credit unions operate. A perfect example of a service that credit unions provide is our interactive, certification program for elder financial exploitation, referred to as Credit Union Senior Safeguard. These services are made available online to all, including credit union staff, members and caregivers, who access credit union websites, regardless of membership.


  • After years of negotiation with the Department of Defense (DoD) and amendment of the Federal Credit Union Act in 1996, DoD has the discretionary authority to waive the cost for credit union land leases as well as administrative and logistical fees.
  • This exemption is not guaranteed for every credit union on every military base. It is a negotiation between that military installation’s base commander and that specific credit union.
  • Furthermore, this exemption is limited in scope to credit unions if at least 95 percent of the membership to be served by the allotment of space or the facility built on the lease land is composed of individuals who are, or who were at the time of admission into the credit union, military personnel or federal employees, or members of their families.

As the only member-owned, not-for-profit, democratically controlled option in financial services, credit unions' mission is to promote thrift and provide access to credit for members. It is a mission they have fulfilled for more than 110 years and is a mission that remains unchanged today. Credit unions are focused on ensuring the financial readiness of our service members and their families.