By Phil Gardner
An amendment sponsored by Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA) to the National Defense Authorization Act was approved this afternoon by a bipartisan, unanimous voice vote. The amendment would help make loans more affordable for active duty military officers.
“This is a commonsense fix to federal law that will help active duty service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and throughout the Armed Services. I enjoyed working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this worthwhile amendment passed,” Congressman Heck said.
Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003, lenders must cap the interest rates on loans service members incurred prior to entering active duty to no more than six percent for the duration of their service. The Act currently states that proof of when the service member entered active duty must be provided by the service member submitting his or her military orders.
However, since some service members (including active duty military officers) may not receive formal military orders with a set duration of service (i.e. end date), some creditors have resisted lowering their interest rate, citing the lack of formal military orders with a set duration of service. There are also issues with institutions inaccurately interpreting military orders and the inaccessibility of these documents for service members in some instances.
The Heck amendment modifies federal law to make it easier for service members to invoke these crucial consumer protections and compliance for financial institutions. This commonsense measure states that active duty military officers can invoke their rights through other means than just their orders, including a letter from their commanding officer or a certificate from the Department of Defense’s own website documenting their active duty status.