FORWARD OPERATING BASE SABIT QADAM, Afghanistan —Even those who are deployed to combat zones need money.
Sometimes Marines need cash to buy basic gear or hygiene necessities, other times units need to pay for battle damages they’ve caused.
Corporal Steven Kessler, disbursing agent, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), is responsible for handling money distribution for the Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6, and others aboard Forward Operating Base Sabit Qadam.
“We deal with US currency and Afghan currency as well,” said Kessler of Cottage Grove, Minn. “We do a lot of claims payments, like battle damage claims.”
Kessler says whenever a unit damages property during fire fights or operations, Marines assess what happened and give a claim card to the property owner. The owner will then come to the base to receive compensation.
“The best part of my job is that it’s pretty much a morale booster,” he said referring to service members coming to him to withdraw money. He says many Marines at outlying patrol bases don’t often have the opportunity to withdraw money, so when they come to Sabit Qadam, they can knock on his window anytime, day or night.
Kessler is on his first deployment. He says he has been enjoying it so far, but some days are harder than others.
“The toughest part is that it gets kind of slow at times,” he said. “When the Marines are out on (operations) usually no one comes in to get money, and the days kind of drag.”
He says he does enjoy the fact that he is the only disbursing Marine in his area.
“It’s easy to show my discipline being that I still get up early, I still work out every day, I still do my (Marine Corps Institute tests),” Kessler said.
Kessler also teaches classes to other Marines on how to be paying agents. Once the Marines are trained and qualified to be paying agents, they can also pay claims for battle damages. This helps him accomplish his mission by increasing his reach throughout the area.
Kessler, 26, has been in the Marine Corps for 3 years. He says joining the Marine Corps a little later than the average Marine helped him out in his career.
With an associate’s degree in accounting, Kessler says he picked his current military occupational specialty because he wanted to get an accounting job before enlisting.
He recently submitted a package to reenlist in the Marine Corps. If it gets denied, he’ll pursue a career in accounting once he separates from the service, Kessler said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: First Battalion, 7th Marines is a part of Regimental Combat Team 6. RCT-6 falls under 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.