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Petraeus Wife to Head U.S. Consumer Unit for Military

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration has named Holly Petraeus, wife of Army General David Petraeus, to establish a new federal office to help protect military personnel and their families from financial distress linked to consumer credit.

Elizabeth Warren, a special White House adviser charged with setting up a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, announced the appointment at the Treasury Department today.

“The goal of the new agency is to provide basic consumer protection and to be a voice for American families,” Warren, 61, wrote in a White House blog post earlier in the day. “Military families have unique challenges, and now they have a unique advocate to ensure that their special concerns get the attention they deserve.”

“Strengthening protections against financial abuse” is “one way we can begin to begin to pay our debt to those who serve,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal S. Wolin said in a statement.

Petraeus will direct efforts to set up an Office of Servicemember Affairs, a requirement under the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul enacted in July.

The new office will be a watchdog dedicated to about 300,000 members of the military and their families, Warren wrote on the blog. The goal is to ensure that military families receive financial education services and get responses to questions and complaints over such matters as credit-card bills or car payments.

“Despite strong efforts by the Department of Defense and others, too many military families find themselves in financial trouble, scrambling hard to deal with mounting debts or falling into the arms of a predatory lender,” Warren wrote.

The Pentagon backed a 2006 law that effectively banned payday lending for members of the military by limiting interest rates.

Petraeus’s wife previously served as director of the Better Business Bureau Military Line, which helps provide consumer education and advocacy for service members and their families, according to the business bureau’s website.

“Her appointment to the position is great news to the military community,” said Norb Ryan, a retired vice admiral in the Navy and president of the Military Officers Association of America. “She’s already a proven, strong military family advocate.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net; Carter Dougherty in Washington at cdougherty6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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