Navy payment delays have forced some sailors to take out loans

Navy sailors who won increases to their housing allowances this year because they got married or moved to a high-cost area are experiencing months-long delays in their pay raises — a situation that has forced some to take out loans to make ends meet.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Vice President Gillian Gonzalez said her organization has seen an increase in loan requests from sailors struggling to cover living expenses.

“It’s happening all over the place,” Gonzalez said in an interview with Military.com. “It doesn’t seem to affect one geographic area more than another.”

Gonzalez could not say exactly how many affected sailors have applied for loans, as the company counts them along with all those who have applied for assistance with basic needs. Several sailors have taken to social media to describe the delays and desperate efforts to secure loans for living expenses.

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According to Gonzalez, a sailor was not paid for three months due to an enlistment extension and payment error, and although the member’s command “worked daily to resolve the issue”, the sailor exhausted all his savings.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief stepped in, delivering a check for $2,500 to the sailor’s door because he was under COVID-19 quarantine, Gonzalez said.

Cmdt. Matt Knight, a public affairs officer at Navy Personnel Command, said the Navy is required by the Department of Defense to process applications for the Basic Housing Change Allowance within 30 days, but delays occur.

He declined to answer questions about how many sailors are affected by the current backlog or why it is happening.

“The Navy Personnel Command and our subordinate commands take every measure to ensure that the volume of transactions does not exceed our capacity, but sometimes backlogs occur for various reasons. These backlogs are being resolved as quickly as possible to limit impacts on sailors,” Knight said.

A sailor took to Reddit to complain about her situation, saying she and her husband got married in July and still haven’t received their basic housing allowance. Military.com corresponded with the sailor but was unable to confirm the details of her messages.

The couple, both third-class NCOs living in expensive Washington, DC, took out business loans to cover expenses, according to the Seaman’s Reddit post.

“My case has been open for over a month with no action…I’m just…Beyond frustrated,” the sailor wrote.

Other sailors on the social media site said it took over a year for their issues to be resolved.

A first-class personnel specialist, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said the root of the problem lies in the consolidation of personnel support detachments and customer support department which started in 2017 and appears to be understaffed.

In September, MyNavy Career Center was established as a command – an effort to improve services to sailors.

“Closing dozens of processing centers has taken that transaction load and dropped it into a building of people,” the noncommissioned officer wrote in a post to Military.com. “Our only means of communication with them is through [MyNavy Career Center, or MNCC], which isn’t always great because it’s [mostly] civilians with a knowledge database… all they can do is search for tickets and give status.

The MNCC is the Navy’s Human Resources Service Center, often referred to as the MNCC Call Center or simply MNCC.

The non-commissioned officer also called the 30-day deadline “laughable”, given that personnel specialists work through a sailor’s payroll and send it through a processing system that has 30 days to act.

This system typically takes an additional 30 days to process, followed by 30-45 days for review and publication – a course that can take three months or more.

“In a Hershey and Hallmark world, 30 days would be great,” he said.

Applications may be further delayed if there is an error in a seafarer’s record. In the case of the sailor who posted his complaint on Reddit, his emergency data record and dependency request were blocked in the system for 75 days.

The MNCC ended up canceling the request and resubmitting it – a change that usually restarts the clock.

“It basically resets the first 30 days over and over again until the personnel specialist or the admin team is successful,” the personnel master told Military.com.

According to Knight, the effort to consolidate payroll and personnel transactions has proven successful, having “increased standardization, reduced errors, improved payroll accuracy and timeliness, and improved audit readiness.” .

But the navy is aware that it has problems. At a Navy town hall in June, a Petty Officer First Class asked Chief of Fleet Manpower, Personnel Training and Education Wes Koshoffer when the Navy planned to consolidate the various websites of personnel data – a decision that would eliminate redundancy and reduce the risk of error. .

Currently, when Sailors experience a change in status – marriage, birth, relocation – they must register with the Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System, Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, Record of Emergency Data and Dependency Application and more.

“We’ve built these 55 disparate systems over the last 50 or 60 years to manage our HR, and they don’t talk to each other. They don’t translate well, and it spoils,” Koshoffer admitted. But, he added, the “cavalry is coming.

“We are dangerously close to launching this unique system to rule them all whom we call [Navy Personnel and Pay 2, or NP2, system] … we hope to deliver early next year. It solves the vast majority of those problems,” Koshoffer said.

— Patricia Kime can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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