UNDISCLOSED LOCATION – Personal distractions can damage a service member's mission effectiveness, especially while deployed. One distraction many deal with daily centers around personal finances, and that's where 379th Expeditionary Comptroller Squadron airmen here step in.
“Our mission is to support the wing ... by providing sound financial advice to wing leadership and excellent financial customer service to deployed service members for pay and entitlements and disbursing services,” said Maj. Shannon Jackson, the 379th ECPTS commander here on a one-year short tour and a Mount Clemens, Mich., native.
Open seven days a week, comptrollers provide customer service to deployed service members by offering assistance in matters of military pay inquiries, entitlements, savings deposit plan, and provide monetary exchanges between U.S. and host nation currency among other financial services.
“As the sole processing site in the Air Force Central Command area of responsibility, we process all active-duty Air Force deployed entitlements here and throughout,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Meyer, a 379th ECPTS customer service technician deployed from Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., and a Fort Wayne native.
The comptroller squadron serves about 250 customers a day. Some days it's more when an influx of new airmen arrive.
While Finance's doors are open to all service members, some inquiries require actions that can't be resolved here, Meyer said.
“One of our biggest challenges is we have limited capabilities here,” Meyer said. “We won't turn anyone away; if we can't assist a customer on our end, we will do what we can to get them pointed in the right direction.”
Meyer added that in some cases Finance will work on behalf of the member to ensure the issue is resolved in a timely manner.
The dispersing agent, in conjunction with the cashiers, is responsible for keeping enough U.S. and local currency on hand to support the entire base population. Together they are liable for ensuring all the cash is accounted for each day and making runs to the local bank as necessary.
The dispersing agent also works with the contracting office to ensure all of the bills get paid, Thompson added. This includes providing money for housekeeping items such as electricity in all the facilities.
They also advance funds to different agencies who might require them for operations.
“Pilot paying agents are advanced money to pay for aviation fuel and other ground service fees including landing, parking, navigational and aircraft servicing fees,” Thompson said.
Additionally they also maintain the nine Eagle Cash machines throughout the installation. The Eagle Cash card is a cash alternative that deployed U.S. military members use to make purchases here.
“The Eagle Cash card helps us to reduce the amount of U.S. currency” at the base, said Master Sgt. Mark Thompson, the 379th ECPTS dispersing agent deployed from Charleston, S.C., and a Willingboro, N.J., native.
“It's sometimes hard for our airmen to see how working in finance supports putting bombs on target,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nyle Smith III, the 379th CPTS superintendent deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and a Richmond, Va., native. “But I always remind them that if we keep our customers' pay straight, Airmen will be focused on their mission and not worried about their paycheck.”