Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) introduced the Servicemembers Opportunity Act today. The legislation ensures all servicemembers can utilize the financial protections they’ve earned under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003.
“I have the honor of representing more than 15,000 active duty servicemembers. I believe all of them deserve the opportunity to afford college, own a home, and serve our country without worrying about runaway interest rates on their loans and mortgages,” Congressman Heck said.
Congressman Heck represents Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the surrounding communities.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 caps interest rates at 6% for obligations servicemembers entered into before beginning their service. Servicemembers currently must submit a copy of their military orders to the lender to qualify for the capped interest rate.
Not all servicemembers have been able to utilize their financial protections under the law. Some servicemembers, such as active duty military officers, receive formal military orders without a set duration of service that includes an end date. Some lenders have resisted lowering interest rates for these servicemembers.
Additionally, some servicemembers have encountered issues with institutions inaccurately interpreting military orders. Other servicemembers have had difficulty obtaining the capped rate because their military orders are physically difficult to access from where they are stationed.
The Servicemembers Opportunity Act amends the law to make sure servicemembers are able to invoke the crucial financial protections they’ve earned. It also resolves the issues lenders have had with the 2003 law. Under the Servicemembers Opportunity Act, servicemembers without formal military orders can prove their military service and invoke their rights through other means, including a letter from their commanding officer or a certificate from the Department of Defense’s own website documenting their active duty status. Allowing these commonsense alternatives to military orders will help ensure all servicemembers can utilize their financial protections.