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Military pay service returns to base level

Airman 1st Class Kevin Swope, 21st Comptroller Squadron financial services representative, assists a customer in the financial services office. Since August, military pay has been moved from the Financial Services Center at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., to the base level. The move means customers will see changes to their pay in a more timely manner. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson)

Airman 1st Class Kevin Swope, 21st Comptroller Squadron financial services representative, assists a customer in the financial services office. Since August, military pay has been moved from the Financial Services Center at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., to the base level. The move means customers will see changes to their pay in a more timely manner. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In order to provide better service to Airmen, customer service for military pay has been moved from the Financial Services Center at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., back to the local level.

In 2007, the Air Force set up the Financial Services Center to centralize military and travel pay services. The vision was for base level financial services to eventually go away in favor of customer interaction directly with the service center, said 1st Lt. Laura Vergez, financial services flight commander.

For the past five years, base-level financial service has acted as the middle man. "We would code (the paperwork), and we would then send it up to them to actually process (so) it would affect someone's pay," Vergez said. Under this system it could take anywhere from 10 to 12 days for a customer to see changes to their pay.

"This past year, they've come to the realization that it wasn't working for military pay processing. The system was too muddled, there were too many middlemen, and it wasn't getting any easier," she said. "They determined that, for better customer service to the member they would (bring) it back to base level."

Since August, military pay processing has been at the base level. "Being able to do it at base level means changes are made that day, so their pay record would be affected the next day," Vergez said.

The only change in business that customers will see is how fast their record shows the changes.

Military members who were at the service center are slowly being brought back to bases, also. It could be up to a year before base-level services are fully manned. Civilians will remain at the service center and be fully dedicated to handling travel pay, Vergez said. "Travel pay is not coming back to base level because it's easier with the electronic systems that they're trying to implement for travel vouchers to continue to do that at the service center," she said.

While moving military pay services back to base will improve customer service, there are still a few things customers can do to further improve the process. First, Vergez said, is initiate financial actions in a timely matter, especially when first arriving on base. "The faster you come to us, the faster we're able to get everything working smoothly and correctly," she said.

This includes returning from a deployment. "Being able to go into the system and change people's entitlements here locally means they are much less likely to run into the circumstance of having deployment entitlements continue to rack up and then ultimately owing them back," Vergez said.

The second thing everyone should do is keep a close eye on their leave and earning statement. "The more informed you are as a customer, the easier it is for us to resolve anything with you. The sooner you catch anything, the less repercussion there is in terms of debts or anything negative that would happen," she said.

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