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Opening Statement of Hon. Marlin A. Stutzman, a Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  This is my first full committee hearing and I am very honored to serve on this committee to serve our veterans who have so honorably defended this nation.

In addition to the honor of serving on this committee, I have the additional honor of serving as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.  The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) falls under the oversight of my subcommittee.  Over the past few days and weeks I have been learning about SCRA and the benefits and protections it affords to our service members.  I commend the work of previous Congresses on this legislation.

With the amount of service members currently deployed, it is of utmost importance that service members and the financial institutions that handle their affairs are fully educated on the intricacies of the SCRA.  Service members must be fully focused on the mission abroad, not worrying about their personal affairs at home and wondering if they will come home to a foreclosed home.

It is the duty of financial institutions to serve all their clients with the utmost respect and customer service but there is an increased responsibility to those clients who are serving overseas.  Should mistakes be made by the financial institution, in this case J.P. Morgan Chase, steps must be taken to correct the problem and make it right for the men and women in uniform who were mistakenly charged a higher amount of interest rates and fees, or, in the worst cases, faced foreclosure on their homes while deployed. 

While I do not stand here today in judgment of any of the involved parties, I do have a strong interest in identifying any weaknesses in the SCRA and  learning more about how service members are informed of the rights and privileges afforded to them by the SCRA.  Additionally, I am interested in learning more about the vulnerabilities in J.P. Morgan Chase’s SCRA compliance and the steps they are taking to correct their mistakes for service members involved in wrongful interest charges on their mortgages and home foreclosures.

I would like to thank our witnesses for being here today.  Many of you have served our nation honorably in many different capacities.  I look forward to hearing your testimony.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.