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Comptroller Airmen manage millions, serve thousands

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS) -- The 379th Expeditionary Comptroller Squadron manages more than $160 million and serves about 60,000 customers annually.

More than a dozen Airmen make up the 379th ECPTS team. Those Airmen provide a range of financial services at Al Udeid Air Base, including financial analysis, military pay, travel and Savings Deposit Program assistance.

One of the unit’s most popular services is currency conversion, a service that allows customers to convert U.S. dollars into Qatari Riyal and vice versa. The Qatari Riyal is the accepted currency in Qatar and the 379th ECPTS conducted thousands of currency exchanges in 2015.

Senior Airman Bryan Hersey, a 379th ECPTS cashier from Lompoc, California, disbursed more than $4 million over the past six months.

“Eighty-five percent of my job has been performing currency conversions,” Hersey said. “I’ve disbursed up to $15,000 in one day.”

Hersey said working with so much money can be nerve-wracking.

“The nerves can get to you when you’re dealing with so much money,” he said. “I’m careful to make sure I don’t miscount. I have to respect this job, the money, the customers and ensure I count everything accurately.”

One of the best parts of his job is helping people, Hersey added.

One customer had $8,000 in his account, but due to an error with his bank, he wasn’t able to access those funds, Hersey said.

Over a five-day period, Hersey and his supervisor worked with the staff at a bank in Boston to fix the problem.

“We worked with him and the bank in Boston to resolve the issue; it turns out everything was happening due to an invalid account number and we didn’t want the member to lose access to his funds because of that,” Hersey said.

Senior Airman James Ratzlaff, a 379th ECPTS customer service technician from Spokane, Washington, said he enjoys helping customers. On average, he assists about 430 people a month who have a wide variety of financial concerns.

He recalled helping a young staff sergeant, a mother of three, who wasn’t receiving the basic allowance for housing differential she was entitled to.

She has a family that she has to provide for, and she has to pay child support so that entitles her to BAH-DIFF, Ratzlaff said. For one reason or another, she wasn’t receiving it.

Ratzlaff quickly processed the request to start BAH-DIFF for the staff sergeant and the following month she had an extra $255 in her paycheck.

Helping her felt good, Ratzlaff said.

“We want things to work properly and it’s frustrating when they don’t,” he said. “We see the impact it has on people; we feel that frustration, so it felt great to see everything work out.”

The 379th ECPTS provides services for military members, Defense Department civilian employees, contractors and even coalition partners. In the past six months, the unit has performed more than 500,000 financial transactions for more than 37,000 customers.

“Our mission is to provide high-quality, objective guidance in financial management with a focus on customer service and decision support to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and its associates,” said Maj. Chris Spaulding, the 379th ECPTS commander, from Homestead, Florida. “We pride ourselves on customer service.”

Since July 2015, the 379th CPTS input and audited over 11,000 pay entitlements, validated and funded nearly 4,000 base requirements, and managed the largest cash operation in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Those are accomplishments to be proud of, Spaulding said.

“Our ability to generate positive experiences while delivering effective and efficient financial operations for our customers has been very impressive,” he said.