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Partnership offers Airmen "better business" support

  • Published
Building on the service's efforts to educate Airmen on consumer-related issues, the Air Force began an official partnership with the Council of Better Business Bureaus recently.

The partnership encourages Airmen and their families to use the bureau's free programs, services and materials while paving the way for new jointly-developed information and services targeted to the unique needs and concerns of the Air Force audience.

"This partnership strengthens the Air Force's ongoing efforts to educate Airmen consumers and adds a measure of visibility that connects Air Force bases with the local communities," said Scott Hand,  Air Force Personnel Center community readiness consultant. "The Better Business Bureau has unique knowledge of local marketplaces across the United States that can help our military consumers find trustworthy businesses to deal with."

The bureau signed on as a partner with the Department of Defense's Financial Readiness Campaign in 2003 and its Military Line Program has since used consumer complaint data submitted by military members to design workshops addressing military-specific consumer issues.

"Our goal is to improve the financial health and knowledge of military consumers," said Holly Petraeus, Better Business Bureau military line director. "With 165 offices nationwide, the bureau is well positioned geographically to serve the military, and solidly staffed with business professionals who are able to tailor programs to the needs of the Air Force community."

Successful joint ventures include teen Smart Consumer Workshops at Luke AFB, Ariz., Peterson AFB, Colo., and Randolph AFB, Texas, and adult Military Smart Consumer Workshops at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, Shaw AFB, S.C., and Brooks City-Base, Texas.

"I highly recommend the Air Force community take advantage of this service. We maxed attendance at both seminars and received positive feedback from participants," said Fred Zeithammel, chief of the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Brooks City-Base, Texas.

The bureau also maintains a Web Site -- -- aimed specifically at its Air Force audience. The site includes BBB products and services such as reliability reports on businesses and charities, consumer tips and alerts, and a link to file complaints. The site also includes news items of particular interest to military consumers. Through the Web Site, Airmen may sign up for a monthly newsletter that contains a regular "scam alert" feature.

The partnership adds to the Air Force's Personal Financial Management Program and the consumer-related programs offered at base Airman and Family Readiness Centers.

"The Air Force has a considerable history of addressing the consumer needs of military personnel and their families," Mr. Hand said, "and we're committed to building on that tradition with the Better Business Bureau."