By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsAugust 8, 2019
On Aug. 1, the Center for Personnel Claims Support at Fort Knox took control of all Army household goods damage claims for Soldiers in Asia.
"The intent was always to consolidate at a certain point," said J.D. Klein, supervisory legal administrative specialist at the center. "But we wanted to do it in a deliberative process; we're not just going to flip a switch."
Prior to taking on the Asia claims, the center already handled claims for all continental U.S. locations as well as Hawaii, Alaska and the Americas. The Asia claims encompass South Korea and Japan.
Klein explained that their analysis over the previous year has revealed that taking on the Asia claims is not expected to task out center personnel too heavily. He figures they will probably take on an additional one to two claims each month.
Equally important, according to Klein, is that this move will also free up legal personnel in Asia to deal with much bigger issues.
"They're dealing with foreign ports, they're dealing with [Status of Forces Agreement] claims; they're dealing with affirmative claims for medical issues," said Klein. "The number of personnel claims they're dealing with doesn't make a blip on their radar."
Klein said a meeting with Asia representatives last year provided them time to plan for the additional workload while also providing paralegals in Korea and Japan time to adjust to the small decrease in workloads.
"We asked them, 'When will be a good mark on the wall?' They suggested August of this year," said Klein. "We maintain a great working relationship with them whenever issues come up."
Klein said consolidating all claims at the Fort Knox center also provides carriers continuity when dealing with broken or lost items.
"Before, the industry had no standard because there were 41 offices with 41 different interpretations of what was going on," said Klein. "Now, they have one office; they know our examiners who know their left and right limits. At the end of the day, they have some expectation of consistency."
With Asia now under the center's purview, the only remaining area not being covered by the center is Europe. Klein said a lot of factors go into deciding whether those claims will remain under the processing authority of U.S. Army Europe or be moved to Fort Knox.
"At the end of the day, the idea is to make the person as whole again as possible within all policies and constraints," said Klein. "We all know that sometimes you get to pick where you go and sometimes you don't. We try to get you returned to where your items were before they were picked up and shipped."