LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and the Attorneys General of Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and the State of Hawaii, Office of Consumer Protection yesterday sent a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee expressing opposition to an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) proposed by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would allow any college approved for military tuition benefits to have unrestricted access to recruit on military bases.
“Predatory schemes targeting veterans are unconscionable,” said Attorney General Harris. “The proposed amendment would weaken current rules intended to protect our servicemembers, and harm veterans by making them vulnerable to fraud and exploitation. We must protect our nation’s veterans and servicemembers from predators who would exploit them for their educational benefits.”
Under existing standards, educational institutions already have sufficient access to military installations, especially for counseling purposes. This amendment would weaken the existing protections and leave veterans and servicemembers more susceptible to aggressive and deceptive recruiters on military properties.
Attorney General Harris and the other state attorneys general also point out that current protections are indeed insufficient and should be strengthened to ensure that servicemembers are able to perform their duties free from harassment by unscrupulous recruiters.
In issuing this letter, the attorneys general join a number of military and veterans service organizations as well as other advocacy organizations in voicing concerns over the amendment. These organizations have noted their opposition in the following letters: http://veteranseducationsuccess.org/s/Letter-to-Manchin-re-NDAA-43d5.pdf
This letter is Attorney General Harris’ latest effort to protect veterans from targeted scams and predatory practices. In March of this year, Attorney General Harris obtained a $1.1 billion default judgment against Corinthian Colleges, which targeted servicemembers and veterans and illegally used the seals of the military services in its marketing materials. Attorney General Harris and seven states also sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs urging VA Secretary Robert McDonald to take steps to ensure that veterans are given accurate information about the risks associated with using their benefits at predatory schools like the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
Last year, Attorney General Harris issued a consumer alert warning veterans and their survivors to be on alert following a rise in reported pension poaching scams, and last Friday, in honor of Memorial Day, issued consumer tips to help California servicemembers and veterans protect themselves from common scams. In November 2015, Attorney General Harris announced a stipulated judgment against JPMorgan Chase over allegations of credit card debt-collection abuses that violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the California Military Veterans Code and required the payment of restitution to servicemember-victims nationwide. The Attorney General’s office has also provided training and support to military legal assistance attorneys on consumer protection issues.
The letter to Senator Manchin opposing the amendment is attached to the online version of this news release at www.oag.ca.gov/news.