VICENZA, Italy (November 16, 2018) -- If a Soldier stolen or intentionally destroyed or damaged your property, you may be able to recover your loss by filing a claim for compensation under Article 139 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) against the Soldier who caused the loss.

Article 139 is an administrative provision under the UCMJ that provides a means of restitution for victims of theft or willful damage by a Soldier. Any individual (civilian, local national or military), business entity, or non-profit organization may file such a claim. Article 139 does not apply to claims for property damage resulting from negligence (such as traffic accidents), or for death or personal injury.

Generally, an Article 139 claim must be submitted in writing within 90 days of the loss or damage. The time allowed to file a claim can be extended for good cause, which includes not knowing about Article 139 recovery rights. Article 139 claims, however, should be filed and processed as quickly as possible to ensure valid claims are paid before the Soldier is no longer in the service and no longer subject to military pay withholding.

The Vicenza Military Claims Office can provide victims a claim form and assist them with what documents to include. The claim must be for a specific sum of money and should identify the offender and explain how the loss occurred (if there were any witnesses, it is helpful to include a statement from the witnesses or to at least provide the witnesses names and contact information).

Once the Vicenza Military Claims Office receives an Article 139 Claim, the claim is forwarded to the Soldier's Special Court Martial Convening Authority (SPCMCA, often the Soldier's Brigade Commander), who has authority to approve claims up to $5,000. If the claim meets basic requirements, the SPCMCA will appoint an investigating officer to investigate and determine if the claim is meritorious.

Claims greater than $5,000, but less than $10,000, must be approved by the offender's General Court Martial Convening Authority (in most cases, the Commanding General). Claims greater than $10,000 can only be approved by the Judge Advocate General, Deputy Judge Advocate General, or Commander, U.S. Army Claims Service. Filing an Article 139 Claim with the Vicenza Military Claims Office will ensure that the claim is delivered to the appropriate commander for processing. Article 139 claims may also be submitted to any commanding officer in the offender's chain of command.

If approved, the appropriate commander will direct the finance and accounting office to withhold the approved amount from the pay of the offending Soldier and pay it directly to the claimant. A claim may be closed at any point if the offender makes voluntary restitution.

If anyone has questions pertaining to claims, please stop by the Vicenza Military Claims Office on Caserma Ederle, Building 166, or call 0444-61-8831/32,
DSN 637-8831/8832.