WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 21, 2014) The Army is highlighting the work of the First Citizens Bank at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for its service to the Army community.

The bank is the recipient of the 2013 Army Distinguished Bank Service Award. The award was presented here Tuesday, during a conference of the Association of Military Banks of America.

Financial institutions on Army installations exist to serve military members, families and civilians on the post, said Col. Darrell Brimberry, commander of the United States Army Financial Management Command.

"I think there is no greater example than with the government shutdown," he said. "Financial institutions on installations stood up and said, 'Soldiers and their families will get the paycheck they deserve, even if we have to underwrite it.'"

A great example of service to the community, he said, is First Citizens Bank at Fort Bragg, which awarded scholarships in conjunction with the Association of the United States Army, totaling more than $40,000, in 2013.

Employees at the institution served the Army community in so many other ways as well, he said, including working with Soldiers to set up financial plans for post-military life, volunteering in the community, and teaching classes on managing finances for hundreds of service members and their families.

Other important initiatives include providing below-market rate loans and credit cards to eligible service members, to help combat predatory lenders who seek out Soldiers who are vulnerable, and who then would fall deeper into debt.

Maj. Helen Thomas, the banking liaison officer at Fort Bragg, said she is proud to be the connection between the military and private institutions on post.

"For me, it's a passion because I've been wearing this uniform for 25 years," said Thomas. "I live for helping the Soldiers, no matter what their rank. I'm for education, preparing yourself, and saving for the future."

First Citizens Bank embodies the best qualities of service to the military community, she said, with the bank supporting the Fort Bragg community "above and beyond" what was required of it.


Financial institutions on installations have an obligation to serve the military community as stated in Department of Defense regulations, said Maj. Emma Parsons, Department of the Army banking officer.

"My job is to ensure that the banks and credit unions on installations support the whole community -- the Soldiers, civilians and family members," she said.

Financial institutions on installations have an agreement with the posts' commanders, and cannot engage in predatory lending, and are limited in the fees they can charge, she said.

She also noted as part of the agreement with the post, the financial institutions must provide financial counseling and education. Parsons recommends Soldiers take advantage of those free services, to better manage their finances, and avoid overspending and overdraft fees.

Outside financial institutions, unless specifically authorized, cannot advertise competing products on an installation, she said. They can never engage in predatory lending on an Army installation, she said.

The financial institutions on base are staffed by veterans or military spouses who know the challenges that service members face, such as deployments, or perhaps trying to juggle multiple responsibilities while supporting a family on a single income.

Banks and credit unions on installations want to help members, she said.

"It's definitely a community bank concept, rather than a big corporate institution," she said. "It's personal."

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