By Ms. Leslie Brians (IMCOM)January 22, 2014
SCHWEINFURT, Germany (Jan. 21, 2014) -- Retirees in the Schweinfurt area can expect their high levels of service to continue through closure, but they should not wait until the gates close to begin preparing for the transition. The time to plan for post-closure changes in services is now.
U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt is undergoing a base transformation that will see its eventual drawdown and closure by September 2014. USAG Ansbach, however, is slotted to remain open.
From now until closure, retirees seeking retirement services should visit Schweinfurt's Retirement Services Office at Conn Barracks, Bldg. 40. Retirees are also encouraged to come in to ask questions and make arrangements for future services as the garrison here readies for closure. Visit or call the office at 09721-96-8829 or DSN 353-8829.
After September 2014, Ansbach's Retirement Services Office will handle affairs of retirees in the Schweinfurt footprint, which includes separate councils in Würzburg and Kitzingen, said H. Nacomas Jones, Schweinfurt's retirement services officer.
The respective retiree councils in both Schweinfurt and Würzburg will continue to exist post-closure, said William Godard, Ansbach's retirement services officer.
To stay up to date on any changes, retirees should remain in contact with their local councils and VFW chapters. Any questions after Schweinfurt's closure should be directed to Goddard at 09802-83-3301 or DSN 467-3301, he said.
While Ansbach's RSO will continue to offer the same services as Schweinfurt's RSO, the processes many veterans have become accustomed to may change.
According to Jones, the following guidance can assist Schweinfurt's retirees who must use services in Ansbach after September 2014.
ID Cards: Retirees and their Family members should check the expiration dates of ID cards now to ensure they are up to date in IACS. If an ID card's expiration date is within 90 days of closure, renew them now at the Personnel Transition Assistance Center at Conn Barracks, Bldg. 40. After closure, retirees will need to travel to Ansbach to renew their official documents. By holding this ID card, no further paperwork is needed to grant access to Ansbach. "Once a retiree is entered into the IACS system, they can access installations USAREUR-wide," said Jones.
Passports: Whether retiree or not, check the expiration date of your passport. If the passports of retirees or their dependants are slated to expire within the next 1 to 2 years, renew them now at the passport office at Conn Barracks, Bldg. 40. Learn more renewing passports and other important documents at www.schweinfurt.army.mil/news/archives/newspage_3638.htm.
Travel and paperwork: Take out time to learn the route between Schweinfurt and Ansbach now, and if possible, visit Ansbach's Retirement Services Office in advance and make an effort to become familiar with the staff and their processes. "Social Security and Survivors Benefit Plan paperwork will be processed differently through Ansbach. So the time to get to know their staff is now" says Jones.
Banking: Schweinfurt's local branch of Andrews Federal Credit Union will shut their doors when the base closes. After this point, the closest U.S. banking facility at a military installation will be in Ansbach at Service Credit Union. Service Credit Union is a sister bank to AFCU, and retirees will not need to transfer their accounts prior to closure. Retirees will, however, need to travel to Ansbach to withdraw any U.S. cash. According to Jones, many Schweinfurt retirees are opting to close their U.S. bank accounts and transfer their funds to a local German bank for ease of access.
Mail: Retirees wishing to keep their APO boxes can transfer them to the Ansbach Community Mail Room. Contact Schweinfurt's Retirement Services Office at 09721-96-8829 or DSN 353-8829. Jones urges retirees to contact him as soon as possible to begin the transfer. "The process of switching mailing addresses -- whether to either a new APO or to the German system -- should begin now because the time it takes for mail to transfer could possibly cause a delay," he said.
Medical Assistance: Retirees with medical or dental records at USAG Schweinfurt's health or dental clinic need to pick up their records no later than Feb. 28. If retiree medical records are not picked up prior to this date, records will be transferred to the Katterbach Army Health Clinic in Ansbach. This is the closest care facility for those retirees who wish to be seen by a military primary care manager, said Schweinfurt Health Clinic Commander, Col. Chadwick Bowers, in a January blog.
If retirees wish to be seen by local host-nation health care providers, Jones encourages them to begin coordinating with their physicians now to ensure there is no break in care and that payment process is understood by both the physician and the retiree. "Understand that local host nation physicians will often require payment in advance, and the retiree will then need to submit paperwork to be reimbursed by Champus." The exception is for off-post referrals from their Primary Care Physician, where off-post visits are covered by Champus.
Funeral honors and details: USAG Schweinfurt is no longer able to support retiree funerals due to the decrease in population and manpower. Ansbach Retirement Services Office has begun assisting those Family members in need of funeral services and can be contacted at 09802-83-3301 or DSN 467-3301.
Customs Card: Retirees with customs cards still need to be in contact with their local customs office. The closure of the customs office in Schweinfurt has yet to be announced. However, after base closure, retirees will need to seek assistance from Ansbach's Customs Office.
Tax Office: 2014 is the last year retirees can seek tax filing assistance in Schweinfurt. The Schweinfurt legal office's tax center opens Feb. 6 and will remain operational through June 16, 2014. For assistance in 2015 and for years after, retirees will able to find tax preparation services at Ansbach's Tax Filing Assistance Office.
FMWR facilities and services: Retirees are eligible to continue using MWR services in Schweinfurt. However, with the population declining and many services coming to a halt, Jones suggests becoming familiar with both Ansbach's MWR options as well as those on the economy. For example, Ansbach's Car Care Center, located on Bismarck Kaserne, offers similar service to that offered at Schweinfurt's Car Care center. For trusted mechanics in Schweinfurt, visit our "5 Schweinfurt mechanics trusted by the community" at TeamSchweinfurt.com.