Being conservative with risk is an important factor in USAA's enviable financial strength. But taking care of our military members is what we're best known for. Read Vickie Edwards' story about how she went to bat – and knocked it out of the park – for a wounded warrior seeking an auto loan.
In Edwards' words:
"The 21-year-old Army specialist was calling from the hospital. He was in the early stages of a long recovery from losing a leg to an IED in Iraq and was already looking ahead to when he would need a vehicle with special modifications. The VA was going to pay $11,000, but he needed a loan for the other $17,000.
"Early in the call I asked if I could put him on hold for a second. I felt myself getting emotional, and I didn't want him to hear me cry. He had every reason not to be, but he was so positive and sounded so ambitious. Not bitter. Not upset. And he had a great sense of humor.
"The application was initially declined because the member had not yet established a credit history. I felt terrible but wasn't surprised, because I advise a lot of young servicemembers on establishing good credit. I always trust the system, but this was one of those rare occasions where I had to see if there was anything we could do.
"With my manager's approval, I called Underwriting and got Cindy Gonzales. I told her the member's story, hoping she could help. I know it's her job to protect USAA, but this really felt like one of those times we needed to do everything we could.
"Cindy carefully reviewed the member's financial profile and situation and made a decision that balanced the member's and our risk. When she said, ‘OK, we're going to do it,' I was so proud to be part of a company that cares like we do. I told her she was my favorite underwriter of all time.
"Delivering the news to the member was something I'll never forget. The end of the call was a mutual thanking contest.
"I know and respect that we have to be conservative; it's why we're successful. But there are times when you just have to take a calculated risk, and that's why we're great. And with this young man's outlook, I have a good feeling that everything will be OK — for all of us."