Banks have unveiled another round of programs to help the military personnel and veterans whom the country honors today, seeking the reputational benefits that often come by association.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) were among the big banks in recent days that touted their support of U.S. service members and their families. JPMorgan said that it would start recruiting spouses of military personnel and would launch a formal employment program later this year. It has formalized that hiring commitment by joining a program run by the Defense Department, called the Military Spouse Employment Partnership.
The country's biggest bank has hired more than 6,000 veterans and donated 630 mortgage-free homes to military families since 2011, JPMorgan said in a press release Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo said Thursday that it has donated 66 repossessed homes to "wounded warriors," or military veterans who were injured in combat. The country's fourth-largest bank and largest mortgage lender has hired almost 1,100 veterans this year and is trying to recruit more. Wells has also launched a financial education program specifically geared towards military families.
The Consumer Bankers Association on Thursday also drew attention to the various recruitment efforts, affordable housing and other special programs for veterans offered by its member banks, including Bank of America (BAC), Capital One (COF) and U.S. Bancorp (USB).
This weekend Bank of America said it had donated 800 homes to nonprofit organizations serving veterans, as part of a three-year commitment to donate 1,000 such homes. The Charlotte, N.C., bank said it is on track to reach that goal more than a year ahead of schedule.
Big banks took major reputational hits a few years ago after widespread reports of mistreatment of military-related customers, including foreclosure on service members' homes while they were overseas. In 2011 JPMorgan Chairman and CEO publicly apologized for such foreclosures conducted by his company, calling them the worst mistake the bank had ever made.
A big part of banks' make-good campaign has involved hiring.
On Tuesday several banks will host an annual "Veterans on Wall Street" conference and job fair at the Goldman Sachs (GS) headquarters in downtown Manhattan. The event, now in its third year, is sponsored by Goldman, Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Deutsche Bank (DB).
Executives from those banks, including Citi CEO Michael Corbat, spent last Wednesday evening at a benefit for the organization, rubbing elbows with Bruce Springsteen and Jon Stewart, according to Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the Small Business Administration ushered in the holiday weekend with a measure that aims to make small-business loans more affordable for veterans. Veterans will no longer pay up-front fees on SBA Express loans of as much as $350,000, the agency announced Friday. The initiative takes effect Jan. 1 and will last through the end of the federal fiscal year. The SBA supported $1.9 billion in loans for more than 3,000 small businesses owned by veterans in 2013.
Sarah Todd contributed to this article