Tuesday, July 20, 2004


problems getting paid correctly, creating, they said, stress and concern about the financial well-being of their families back home.
The soldiers were overpaid, underpaid or paid late, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office, and the problems in some instances persisted for more than a year.
"You never want to mess with a soldier's money. That's a cardinal rule," said Army Capt. Orlando Amaro, a platoon leader who was in Baghdad from May through December 2003.
"When a soldier has financial issues, the morale just goes through the floor."
He said virtually all of the 121 soldiers in his company had pay problems.
"Most of the problems stemmed from soldiers not getting additional allotments, such as family-separation pay and combat-zone allotments," said Amaro, an officer in the Washington, D.C., police department.
Pay issues were so pressing, Amaro said, that he and another officer with a background in finances flew from Baghdad to Kuwait roughly every two weeks for five months to try to resolve these problems and prevent new mistakes from occurring.
The two officers flew to Kuwait on "space available" military flights but then had to rent a car with their own money to drive to the finance office, he said. Sgt. Jesus Salcedo of York, Pa., served 11 months in Baghdad and said he was never sure he was receiving the correct pay. Ultimately, he discovered he had been shortchanged on his enlistment bonus and still has not been paid his per diem for travel back to the United States
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