Iowa National Guard Looks into Soldiers’ Pay Issues
By Mark Geary, Reporter
FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan requires intense training and commitment. But some Iowa National Guard members say problems with their pay have left them concerned for their families, and that clouds their concentration.
During training at Fort Irwin, several soldiers from different ranks and units reported that their paychecks were quite a bit less than they should be.
“I’m not sure what the problem is. There are a lot of people not getting paid. A lot of people don’t want to talk about it,” said Spc. Seth McDaniel, 25, of Cedar Rapids, who’s serving with the 1-133 Company B.
“It’s hard to keep your focus on the mission at hand when you’re worried about putting food on your table back home,” agreed Pfc. Andrew Anderson, 22, of Marion, also with Company B.
Anderson said he’d spent two months trying to get his paycheck corrected while also preparing for war.
“It’s very frustrating because I’ve sent everything as high as I know how to go. I don’t know where else to go. I’ve exhausted every other resource available to me,” he said. “I work long days. I want to be able to keep my son in day care and put food on my table. I want my fiancee to be able to get to work and to have gas in the car. I’m not asking for a lot.”
His fiancee, Katey Anderson — their identical last names are a coincidence — is taking care of their 3-year-old son, Jackson, and struggling to pay the bills.
“I’m always late on everything. I haven’t paid the day care in a month,” she said.
She said the government owes her fiance thousands of dollars in back pay.
“It’s just really hard and it’s always in the back of my mind,” Katey Anderson said. “I’ve used all of my resources. I’ve used every single family member we can think of. It’s just not enough.”
Military leadership confirmed that some soldiers’ paychecks — they couldn’t reveal how many — have had problems.
“We are tracking that there are some pay issues,” said Maj. Mike Wunn of Des Moines, serving with the 234 Brigade Combat Team. “It’s not unusual to have pay issues when you mobilize a unit, especially when you mobilize over 3,000 soldiers at one time.”
National Guard members started filling out payroll paperwork in October 2009. If a soldier fills out a form incorrectly or fails to file the right document, it could temporarily affect his or her salary.
“There’s a variety of different reasons why a soldier may have a pay issue. Each one is looked at independently,” Wunn said. “Throughout this process, soldiers’ files are screened to make sure they have submitted all the necessary paperwork to receive the proper pay and allowances” — including birth certificates, marriage licenses, and rental agreements or mortgage statements.
McDaniel said he’s filled out everything correctly, and it’s taking too long to correct the problems.
“It’s kind of like a slap in the face. It’s going to be fixed eventually, but until then, it’s really frustrating,” he said. “It’s hard to go out there and do what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re not getting compensated for it.”
Military leaders said they are investigating every soldier’s complaint.
After KCRG-TV9/The Gazette contacted the military about Andrew Anderson’s case, Katey Anderson said she’s learned that her fiance will receive some back pay. However, he continues to work with the military to iron out the issues for good.
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