By Spc. Sharla Lewis, 3rd AAB PAO, 1st Cav. Div.April 12, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Once a month, a finance team with 9th Financial Management Company, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, out of Fort Lewis, Wash., and personnel with the Army and Air Force Exchange Services set up shop in the dining facilities of remote outposts in United States Division - South to serve troopers there.
Recently, they traveled to al-Sheeb, Iraq to visit Soldiers with D Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
The finance team brought a suitcase of money to enable transactions with the Soldiers' Eagle Cash Cards, a loadable debit card provided to deployed Soldiers by the military. The team also brought forms for Soldiers to open a Savings Deposit Program account.
"This is important to them because they don't have regular access to finance and they can get cash from their card, work through any pay issues they have and open a (SDP account)," said Cpl. Brad Mikulec, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the trip.
Mikulec said the most common questions were related to leave and earnings statements but on this day, a Soldier wanted to open an SDP account.
The program provides deployed Soldiers with a high-interest savings account while they are away from home. Soldiers may deposit up to $10,000 into their account, accruing 10% interest annually.
The Soldier said he had never heard of the SDP so he researched it and asked around and finally made the decision to set one up.
"This makes me really, really happy, because $1,000 is a lot of money," said Pfc. Emery Barr, a cavalry scout from Mason, Mich.
After Soldiers withdrew cash from their cards, they waited in line to browse the selection of goods AAFES brought with them.
They had ordered items in advance and waited with anticipation for their coveted goods to arrive.
"My (executive officer) was so happy to have his coffee maker," said Capt. Jim Cantrell, the company's commander. "He was like a little kid."
The team stayed until after the sun had gone down to ensure that as many Soldiers as possible were able to make purchases.
Cantrell said they appreciated the visit.
"It's kind of sparse out here and there's just something cool about being able to buy something," he said. "We're just happy to be able to get so much stuff!"
The team plans to continue the missions for the remainder of their time in Iraq.