News: 13th FMC soldiers maintain their skill sets, support customers at the DMPO
Story by Pfc. Brian LaBombard
FORT HOOD, Texas - As the drawdown from Iraq comes to completion, soldiers at the 13th Financial Management Center are taking a bigger role at the Defense Military Pay Office on Fort Hood.
“By mission, a financial management soldier is responsible for providing military pay support,” Lt. Col. Paul Bristol, deputy director of the 13th FMC, explained. “As we draw down Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re going to need those finance soldiers to work in the DMPO… so they can provide the quality customer service and garrison financial pay support to Soldiers and their families,” said Bristol.
Customer service is a major priority at the 13th FMC and having skilled financial management soldiers working with the government civilians in the office is a major step forward in completing the mission. Gary Penn, retired command sergeant major of the 13th
Finance Group, now the current director, explained that with approximately 80 civilians and 15 soldiers, the DMPO will be able to provide outstanding support to Soldiers and families on Fort Hood.
“We provide customer service and pay inquiry support, also Basic Allowance for Housing and Basic Allowance for Subsistence inquiries,” said Penn. However, responsibility starts with the individual: “The most important thing a soldier can do for themselves is to read their leave and earnings statement every month,” Penn added.
With over 400 pay inquiries a week, the 13th FMC relies heavily on cross training said Spc. Veronica Faltine, a financial management technician from the 15th Financial Management Support Unit. Faltine has been working in the DMPO for three weeks and after receiving hands-on training she’s been able to help soldiers by correcting errors and answering pay inquiries.
“Military pay [issues] in a deployed environment are sometimes minimal because usually everything is completed at the Soldier Readiness Processing site,” said Maj. Jason Shick, chief internal control of 13th FMC and former commander of the 15th Financial Management Company.
“Having soldiers work here daily, in a fully operational office, providing customer service and military pay processing helps them maintain their skill set. The FMC deploys individually and individuals deploy themselves; that’s why it’s important to have them in the office here completing the mission and doing their job,” said Shick.
“On April 1, 2012, we’ll get another detachment,” Penn noted. The civilians embrace the young soldiers because they want to learn and the civilians want to teach them, added Penn.
But the 13th FMC’s mission does not stop at the gates of Fort Hood. Soldiers and civilians travel across the Continental United States to provide hands-on training at numerous military pay offices.
“We’re giving them [soldiers] the opportunity to be in the office and use the systems that are being used down range,” said Bristol. “They also get to network with their Defense Finance and Accounting Service counterparts as well so they can get support from the rear when they are deployed. The soldiers have appreciation for what the GS employees bring to the table as well. They go in knowing that, ‘These are the folks that have the knowledge and experience and this is where I need to go to gain that knowledge and experience so I can go do my job.’ The bottom line is, train as you fight.”