RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

BEREAVEMENT CHECK CASHING 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on July 31st, 2008

A complaint was filed with federal regulators 30 JUL against a savings and loan that refused to waive check-cashing procedures last month so a couple could pay for the funeral of their son who was killed in Afghanistan. Downey Savings and Loan Association refused to immediately cash two federal bereavement checks totaling $100,000 when they were presented at its Hemet CA branch by the parents of Navy Hospitalman Marc Retmier, attorney Gloria Allred said at a news conference. Allred said the bank wanted the family to wait more than a week while it verified the checks’ authenticity — well after the planned date of the sailor’s funeral. Allred has sent a letter of complaint to John Reich, head of the federal Office of Thrift Supervision, asking for an immediate investigation into the incident. She also asked regulators to adopt new rules requiring all thrifts and savings and loans to immediately cash federal bereavement checks. “It is shameful that parents of a child killed in action are treated by a regulated savings and loan as if they were potential ‘criminals’ by requiring that government-issued bereavement checks be held to verify the authenticity,” Allred said.

Downey issued a statement saying it sympathizes with the family but was forced to abide by its procedures. The bank said its “check hold policy conforms with federal banking regulations and industry practices.” Retmier, 19, of Hemet was killed 18 JUN in a rocket attack in the northern Paktika province. The next day, Joy and Steve Retmier were given two U.S. Treasury checks to use for defraying expenses, including the cost of their son’s funeral, planned for 25 JUN. When they tried to deposit the checks on 20 JUN, officials at the local branch of Downey Savings & Loan told them that the checks would be held until at least 1 JUL to verify their authenticity. Allred said the parents pleaded with a teller to contact the military to immediately verify the checks but she and the bank manager refused. A military recruiter also made the request but was refused by someone at Downey’s corporate offices. The next day the family found a credit union that deposited the checks and advanced $20,000 for the funeral, which was held June 25 in Corona del Mar. [Source: NavyTimes AP article 31 Jul 08 ++]

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