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Peter Gwaltney of the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation (right) visits with a military veteran.

A special Senior Crimestoppers program protects vulnerable military veterans

By Andrea Knotts Bona

Community banks are ensuring that military veterans who risked their lives to protect Americans have a secure environment while living in state veteran’s homes. Through the Veterans Initiative, part of the Senior Crimestoppers program, aging or disabled veterans are afforded piece of mind and protected from theft and abuse.

Recently, Manasquan Savings Bank in Wall Township, N.J., was one of several community banks that joined a special Senior Crimestoppers program, doing its part to give military veterans in nursing homes that peace of mind. “Our nation’s veterans dedicated their lives to protecting our freedom, and every chance to reward their bravery and service is an opportunity Manasquan Savings Bank cannot pass up,” explains James Vaccaro, the bank’s president and CEO.

Started in 2009, the veterans initiative began as an offshoot of a similar program operated by the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation in nursing homes throughout the country. The foundation was approached by the National Association of State Veterans Homes to implement the Senior Crimestoppers program for the nation’s 160 state nursing homes for veterans.

“There is always room for more community banks to support their local vets.”
—Lori Millar, Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation

“Most veterans don’t keep a lot of money or valuables on hand, but even the theft of the smallest amount can impact a resident’s quality of life,” explains Lori Millar, vice president of marketing and communications for the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation, the nonprofit organization that administers the Senior Crimestoppers program.

Today the resulting veterans initiative—supported through a partnership with ICBA, the American Bankers Association and several state banking associations—gathers community development loans, investments and grants from community banks that finance efforts to deter crimes in veterans homes. While conducting crime prevention and awareness programs for veterans and veterans home staffs, the Senior Crimestoppers program gives veterans personal lock boxes to store their valuables. It also maintains a toll-free tip line that allows veterans to report theft or crimes and offers up to $1,000 cash rewards for reports.

Participation in the program by community banks involves a seven-year funding commitment. That funding commitment is provided in the form of community development loans, Community Reinvestment Act-qualified investments or CRA-qualified grants. The community bank can choose from three different funding participation levels, ranging from a $500,000 commitment that supports 20 local veterans up to a $2 million commitment that supports 100 veterans.

A community bank participates in the program by sponsoring a veterans home in its assessment area with a community development loan, investment or grant in the foundation. A bank can choose whether to structure its commitment as a loan or investment or grant. The loan or investment is fully collateralized by an investment grade security of the bank’s choosing. The yield on the loan or investment is tied to the collateral bond coupon rate, the term of the commitment is seven years and repayment is guaranteed.

“Participating in the program is a win-win for community banks,” Millar says. “Banks can choose their level of support and receive positive local publicity, recognition and exposure in both the local and veteran community.”

Working with Crimestoppers

The Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation, a program supported by ICBA, serves as a low-risk, profitable conduit for community banks to fulfill Community Reinvestment Act requirements. The foundation provides safe and secure living environments for senior housing residents by operating the Senior Crimestoppers program in each participating bank’s CRA assessment area.

For information, contact the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation at 877-232-0859 or visit www.SHCPFoundation.org.

Once the bank’s financial commitment is in place, the foundation collaborates with the bank to identify a veterans or nursing home to sponsor. From there, the foundation implements the Senior Crimestoppers program in the facility and trains the staff.

In addition to CRA credit, community banks participating in the program receive public relations materials to help communicate their participation in the program. The materials include a commemorative plaque, decals for their doors and windows, and a local press release template. Through program participation, community banks have the opportunity to build a positive reputation in the veteran community, which is 26 million strong in the United States with more than $1 trillion in net worth.

Curently, 75 community banks are protecting 17,000 veterans in 78 veterans homes across 41 states. “As great as we have done with the program, we still have a ways to go,” Millar says. “There are approximately 40,000 veterans in 160 special state nursing homes for them. There is always room for more community banks to support their local vets.”


Andrea Knotts Bona (andrea.bona@icba.org) is ICBA’s vice president of marketing.

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