News: One big team
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — In the eight months that the 208th Financial Management Company has been in Iraq, the disbursing section, or the "High Rollers" as they are known, have undergone many changes in personnel.
Through all these changes one thing remains the same, the High Rollers have remained a strongly bonded team.
The disbursing section is very unique and multifarious within its ranks. They currently have six Soldiers from Headquarters 208th FM Co. from Mannheim, Germany; three from A/9th from Fort Lewis, Wash.; three from A/126 from Fort Riley, Kan.; one from A/125 from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and one from 101st FMD from Boston.
"Our strength comes from our diversity. During a short amount of time, we have built cohesion and stability throughout the disbursing section and the headquarters office," said Spc. Shavonne Hall, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native.
Everything starts and finishes with the Deputy Disbursing Officer, Capt. Keyia Carlton of Norton, Mass. Carlton has a plethora of duties and responsibilities. She is responsible for funding more than 10 disbursing agents and processing their daily business transactions.
She also plays a conspicuous role in the Department of Treasury's effort to remove cash from the battlefield. With all these duties and responsibilities, Carlton still makes time for all of her Soldiers by inspiring them with a daily dose of "The Word of the Day". Every day before lunch, the disbursing section gathers in her office for some inspiring words from a book called "The Secret", and fun facts for the day.
Carlton's right hand is Disbursing Manager Staff Sgt. George Drakakis, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. He is responsible for the overall management of the disbursing section. His primary responsibilities include releasing Electronic Funds Transfer payments, international payments, and Computerized Accounting Pay System /Deployed Disbursing System interface payments. Drakakis is flanked by three other non-commissioned officers, Sgt. Danielle Gordon from Brooklyn, N.Y., Sgt. Lester Standifer from Orlando, Fla., and Cpl. Son Nguyen from Atlanta. Sgt. Gordon is in charge of the Accounting/ Memorandums of Agreement and Non-Sufficient Funds section. She has three Soldiers in her section, Spc. Tiandao Dong from Boston, Pfc. Cassandra Lawrence from New York, and Pfc. Yang Lin of Atlantic City, N.J.
Gordon supervises with Issuing treasury checks, processing and maintaining all Memorandums of Agreement for all the civilian contracted companies, and is responsible for the daily balancing of all electronic transactions between the HQ Disbursing office and the U.S. Treasury by clearing the Analysis of Unmatched Transaction report.
Standifer is in charge of the Quality Assurance Cell, and his Soldiers are Spc. Shavonne Hall from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Pfc. Oralia Reyes from Dallas. Standifer and his Soldiers ensure that the daily business submitted by the disbursing agents is complete and accurate prior to being processed by Capt. Carlton. Hall and Reyes play an important role in the daily contact of the disbursing agents.
Nguyen runs the Electronic Funds Transfer Cell and he is joined by Spc. Kealohalani Hanato from Pahoa, Hawaii, Spc. Jacob Garza from El Paso, Texas, Spc. Tabitha Sturgill from Dyer, Tenn., and Spc. Htar Cronce from San Francisco. They are all responsible for the receipt, verification and accountability of payments request documentation from 10 remote sites.
"Professionalism takes many forms, and the true measure of professionalism is demonstrated here in this section by doing the right thing," said Standifer.
After working seven months straight, the disbursing section decided to take a bit of a break. During the month of July, the 208th High Rollers took about five hours for their team-building trip to Camp Slayer for a Palace Tour. They were given the tour by 1st Lt. Stephanie Ramos. She explained the history of the Iraqi people and the "Victory over America" palace.
The disbursing section has been working long hours since they arrived in Iraq back in January. "It's not uncommon to see Soldiers working in the disbursing section when I come into the building at 7 p.m., and you will always have at least one Soldier, if not more, working there" Johnson said. "What a great way to bring a section even closer," says Drakakis.