Travel assistance for evacuation of Army facilities due to water contamination on Oahu
By Steve Burghardt, DFAS Corporate Communications
ROME, N.Y. (February 28, 2022) -- At the end of November 2021, residents and workers in military housing and offices near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, began complaining of fuel-like odors in their water. By the time December began, testing revealed contamination of water supplying a number of military housing areas and base facilities.
On December 9, Gen. Charles Flynn, Commander, U.S. Army Pacific, issued a voluntary evacuation memo authorizing Army military and civilian personnel and their families to relocate to designated safe havens from what would ultimately be 24 impacted areas
On December 11, a six-member team from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service site in Rome, NY, landed in Hawaii and began assisting the Army’s 125th Financial Management Support Unit and the 175th Financial Management Support Center. The team provided guidance and help to Soldiers, Army civilian employees and families in completing the forms and vouchers needed to receive the advance funds necessary to relocate while water systems were investigated and flushed. Upon return of the first team before the Holidays, a second DFAS team was sent January 3-15 to continue efforts, ensuring the finance pipeline flowed smoothly from beginning to end. Two members of the team remained onsite to provide continued support and were rejoined by four additional DFAS Rome team members from February 1-15 to assist with increased voucher submissions resulting from impacted families who were then submitting their second 30 day accrual claims. Today, two DFAS Rome team members remain onsite providing support to families as they begin returning home and submitting their final vouchers.
“While this incident doesn’t destroy property like a typhoon or fire,’ said Butch Boris, director of the DFAS Rome Travel Pay office,” it still disrupts life of Army families. Our mission has been to make sure we lean forward in our support of the commands involved by assisting in collecting and processing the paperwork necessary to get folks paid so they can live and work in safe temporary locations until the situation is resolved.”
DFAS provides service to Army for travel by processing and paying permanent and temporary travel claims for Soldiers and civilian employees worldwide. For this voluntary evacuation effort alone, DFAS supported roughly 1,450 families resulting in nearly 4,000 vouchers received by the onsite support team and processed by the voucher examination team at DFAS Rome totaling $28.7M to date.