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Troops Held Back Over Debt

Troops Held Back Over Debt
I found this is the weekend edition of the Boston Metro, the free little news tabloid that I usually read when riding the T around town. If the print is too hard to read, it says:
SAN DIEGO Thousands of US troops are being barred from overseas duty because they are so deep in debt they are considered security risks, according to an Associated Press review of military records.

The number of troops held back has climbed sharply in the past few years. And while they appear to represent a very small percentage of all US military personnel, the increase is occurring at a time when the armed forces are stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are seeing an alarming trend in degrading financial health," said Navy Captain Mark D. Patton, commanding officer at San Diego's Naval Base Point Loma.

The Pentagon contends financial problems can distract personnel from their duties or make them vulnerable to bribery and treason. As a result, those who fall heavily into debt can be stripped of the security clearances they need to go overseas.

The problem is attributed to a lack of financial smarts among recruits; reckless spending among those exhilarated to make it home alive from a tour of duty; and the profusion of "payday lenders" -- businesses that allow military personnel to borrow against their next paycheck at extremely high interest rates.

A more fleshed out version, that is about twice as long as the above, is available at the Boston Globe.


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