Thursday, April 14, 2005

Still waiting on my travel voucher...

WASHINGTON — Some National Guard and Reservists mobilized for the War on Terror have waited months, even years, to get reimbursed for their travel and meal expenses, they say, costing thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs and forcing many to be delinquent in paying other bills on time.

Now some lawmakers and soldiers are calling this outstanding debt the latest in a long line of inequities and hardships for the nation’s Guard and Reserve soldiers, many of whom have reported problems with housing allowances, health coverage and payments for purchasing battlefield gear.

"The problems that I experienced — and most of the guys I was deployed with — were extensive. It was ridiculous," said Sgt. Jason Hartley, a National Guardsman from New York City who returned from Iraq two months ago. He just received a check for his housing allowance — 12 months after the expense was incurred.
"Most of the problems I encountered were with the travel system," said National Guardsman Patrick Jennings, a military historian who was deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq and is home now in Newmarket, N.H. "I got a check a few months ago that was two years old."

A new Government Accountability Office report released in March on the "Inefficient, Error-Prone Process Results in Travel Reimbursement Problems for Mobilized Soldiers" found that the Department of Defense pay system was overwhelmed early on due to the massive call-up of the Army National Guard since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.,2933,153409,00.html

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