3ID Soldiers and Families Relocated Due to Hurricane Irma Still Waiting for Payment 4 Months Later

Sí, I José. First, I heard about all the comments about hard it was to read my last report, so I’ve been studying and practicing hard to be better for you. I am down here in Marne land where everybody’s chanting about wanting raw meat and beans every day…um I’ll just stick to tamales if you don’t mind.

HQ received several requests for my presence due to a sustaining and ongoing issue surrounding the events of the Hurricane Irma evacuation. As I talked to several people from every unit here at Ft. Stewart there was a common theme…Dog-face Soldiers still haven’t been paid from something that happened over 4 months ago. As you recall, Hurricane Irma came barreling down on the East Coast the first week of September, Task Force Marne was running the division as the HQ and several brigades were preparing to deploy.

As a result of Irma’s determination to make a mess of the East Coast, the 3ID Garrison Commander decreed everybody except a few mission essential personnel evacuate. According to 3ID PAO over 34,000 from the Marne Community had to move before Irma struck. However as with every military operations, there was different guidance put out the further away from the flagpole you get. Conflicting evacuation information from what state authorities were putting out vice what was being put out in by Ft. Stewart. As the hurricane passed, but before the evacuation decree was rescinded, TF Marne began pushing units to deploy or go to NTC.

A link was provided by TF Marne through several social media sites for the process to file the claim once personnel began returning. The information on the site was quite thorough and easy to read (https://www.stewart.army.mil/index.php/my-fort/all-services/hurricane-claims) , well except for the 30 hours they took it down after the Tamale Signal was turned on. They have since turned it back on though. But everything was in place to process all the vouchers….or so it seemed.

Spouses started noticing that they hadn’t been paid for their part after three pay cycles and complained to the IG. In December, 3ID did look into the pay issue for the spouses, but for whatever reason, didn’t feel the need to look at the Soldiers as well (more on that in a minute). Come to find out that DFAS, all knowing bean counters in the sky, decided to launch a new program called the Travel Record Event Ecosystem aka The Tree right before PCS season started without testing it. This translated into a huge backlog (over 15,000) as travel employees could only process half of what they once could because of system issues. To further compound the dependent voucher process, for some reason EVAC claims were not directed to be a priority this time, which also led to the delay. According to 3ID, to date over 87% (3,391 of 3,910) of the family member vouchers have been paid. But while DFAS owns some of the blame, the biggest issue lies within Rocky’s own doghouse.

Come back later today for the second explosive half of my report.

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