News: Soldiers of Finance: The 928th
Story by Spc. John Montoya
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Money, cash, greenbacks, euros, dollars, dinero or whatever you want to call it, the finance office here on Camp Bondsteel can handle soldiers’ cash queries.
The 928th Financial Detachment based in Lebanon, Pa., is running the money operations here and making sure everyone is getting the money they are entitled to, said Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Bowman, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the detachment and overall operations.
The number of services the detachment provides is long, some of which include collecting and disbursing funds, collecting funds for the Savings Deposit program, disbursing funds for the local vendor’s contracts and selling meal tickets to the multinational soldiers, said Bowman.
As well as providing the basic financial services for everyone on Bondsteel, the staff also provides those on Bondsteel with the most up to date rules and regulations in regards to military finance.
“The most difficult aspect of our mission is following regulations. When something new comes out or is based on the guidance we have, we then put it out to the soldiers,” said Bowman. “1st Lt. McDonald is our disbursement officer and he gets guidance from the 266th Finance out of Germany and what he puts out is what we go by.”
In addition to keeping Bondsteel up to date with the current rules and regulations the finance office is tracking any pay issues which may arise over the current impasse in Washington over raising the debt ceiling.
"The soldiers pay is guaranteed for the rest of the fiscal year,” said Bowman.
Should questions or concerns arise, Bowman is able to draw upon thirteen years of military finance experience.
“I was a federal tech for my first five years in accounting and then I did three years in budgeting and for the last five years I’ve been the readiness non-commissioned officer for the finance company,” said Bowman.
The most interaction customers have with the employees at the finance office is usually with the cashiers and customer service representatives who deal with pay problems and the usual disbursements, such as withdrawing euros or depositing money into the savings deposit program. Customers usually speak with soldiers like Spc. David P. Zeravsky, a customer service specialist at the finance office.
“I help customers with pay problems and entitlements and we figure out what they’re not getting paid and why they’re not getting it,” said Zeravsky.
Zeravsky also helps soldiers fill out their savings deposit program paperwork.
“I handle anywhere between five and 40 people a day, depending on the day,” said Zeravsky.
The popularity of the savings deposit program has kept him busy.
“There are probably 15 to 20 people on the post who’ve maxed out the program. There are a lot of people using it,” he said.
Although their job may seem somewhat mundane, the cashiers have the huge responsibility of handling large sums of money.
Zeravsky estimates that around $150,000 passes through the cashiers every week.
“Most of our money is electronic funds transfer, so it’s mainly just a paper trail,” said Zeravsky.
Occasionally large sums of physical money pass through cashiers hands.
Pfc. Curtis L. Witmer, a cashier, said, “We had Romanian and Hungarian paymasters come in and pay €88,000, which transferred over to $123,000. It was all in 500 euro notes, 176 of them. It was awesome. It’s like a Dodge Viper in your hands.”
The soldiers of the finance office are prepared to take care of the financial needs of Bondsteel, but if any soldier needs to speak to a customer service representative at the finance office they should come prepared.
“If they know they are going to have pay problems make sure they bring orders,” said Zeravsky. “If they want to do a SDP deposit make sure they have an eagle cash card or something other than a credit or debit card.”
Any soldiers having pay issues are in good hands. The 928th is more than capable of taking care of Multinational Battle Group East, along with everyone else living and working on Camp Bondsteel.