Wounded Warrior Pay Office receives ASMC award

Story by Steve Lawson, Corporate Communications

DFAS HEADQUARTERS, June 8, 2021 – Maintaining a cadence of briefings for Wounded Warriors to ensure pay and entitlements continue is a challenge even in the best of circumstances. Still, when you throw a pandemic in there, the job becomes even tougher.

For the Wounded Warrior Pay Office (WWPO), which works with the Landstuhl Regional Medical Facility (LRMC) in Germany to provide briefings to Wounded Warriors flying into the hospital from the War of Terror, the pandemic meant pivoting from in-person required briefings to figuring a new solution.

The success achieved by the team at the WWPO led by Collette Naughton, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Europe's WWPO Supervisor to adapt to the changing circumstances was recognized with the 2021 American Society of Military Comptrollers Distinguished Award for a Small Team.

Besides protecting the health of individuals from both the WWPO and the patients and ensuring wounded warriors received their briefings within a Congressional mandated three days, the team was only operating with 30 percent of their staff due to unforeseen departures.

The WWPO, collaborating with the DFAS Expeditionary Support Office (ESO) located at DFAS Indianapolis, worked with Army units inside LRMC to create a virtual environment to continue briefing Wounded Warriors on their pay and entitlements. The WWPO collaborated with the Army Medical Transient Detachment (MTD) unit to set up call-in briefings with patients instead of meeting face-to-face, resulting in 988 Army patients virtually briefed in 2020.

The WWPO also coordinated with the LRMC Patient Administration Department (PAD) to establish contingency electronic workflow processes like obtaining daily reports via email for patients receiving inpatient care instead of picking up the paper reports in the office.

"The team at the Landstuhl Wounded Warrior Pay Office and the team at Expeditionary Support Office works so hard each and every day to support the nation's wounded warriors," said Naughton. "The work of our teams enables these wounded warriors to not worry about their finances and focus on their care and getting better."

Being short-staffed and subjected to unprecedented working conditions, the team maintained a 99.9 percent accuracy rate on all inputs into wounded warriors' pay and entitlement accounts. Together, the WWPO and ESO maintained 1,215 pay accounts, corrected more than 97 pay discrepancies and processed over 1,800 pay adjustments thus keeping wounded warriors' pay accounts accurate and ensuring no debts were created due to soldiers being injured.

Communicating daily via electronic means with the Army 7236th Deployed Wounded Warrior Medical Management Center (DWMMC) team on incoming and outgoing flights, the team virtually managing over 450 flights totaling 1,900 patients from all branches of the military during 2020.

"With the help of ESO, the WWPO was able to continue our platinum level customer service and to ensure no debts were created as a result of the wounded warrior's treatments," said Naughton. "We were able to brief 988 patients in 2020, maintain 1,215 pay accounts, correct more than 100 pay discrepancies and process over 1000 pay adjustments to keep wounded warriors' pay accounts accurate."

The ultimate result of this successful transition was that Wounded Warriors could focus solely on their medical treatment without any concern over their financial status while at the hospital.

"Everything has changed since the COVID-19 Pandemic began last spring," Naughton related. "With the smart thinking and creative minds in the WWPO, we were able to completely pivot how we did business."

In addition to Naughton, members of the team included:
Anthony Jones - DFAS Europe 
Ronesha Jordan - Former WWPO employee
Sara Warner-Jefferson - DFAS Indianapolis
Todd Hunsicker - DFAS Indianapolis
Kimberly Daniel - DFAS Indianapolis
Jose Maldonado-Martinez - DFAS Indianapolis