Dorm Airmen financially prepare for meal cards

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Airmen living in the dorms here can expect to see adjustments in their leave and earnings statement this February.

This adjustment will appear as Airmen are put back onto the meal-card program with the re-opening of the Mosel Dining Hall scheduled in early 2012.

The amount Airmen receive for basic allowance for subsistence won't change on this program, but cost of living allowance will, said Master Sgt. Shirley Quevedo, 52nd Comptroller Squadron Financial Service Flight chief. Whether Airmen eat at the dining hall or elsewhere, $9.25 a day will be deducted from their BAS. This amount will equate to about $3 per meal if Airmen eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the dining facility.

The purpose of COLA is to help offset the cost of living overseas. The amount of COLA for meal-card Airmen will be reduced because they will be provided meals and not have to purchase food on the foreign economy.

"Right now, Airmen living in the dorms receive 100 percent of COLA," she explained. "Once Airmen are on the meal card, they will receive 63 percent. Airmen will need to revisit their budget and anticipate this, because they'll be losing roughly $400 a month. If you live in the dorms, maximize the use of the dining facility," she recommended.

The dining facility will have a variety of fresh and healthy meal choices for Airmen to choose from, said Senior Master Sgt. Deborah Betz, 52nd Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight superintendent.

"Our job is to take care of you guys and make sure you don't go hungry because it affects your job and the mission," she said. "We have more healthy choices at a price you can't beat. Where else can you get a meal for $2 to $3?"

Unless Airmen work duty hours preventing them from eating at the dining facility and their commander approves no reduction from BAS, they should review their January LES -- which will be the Feb. 1 paycheck -- to see if the BAS adjustments were made. Quevedo advises all Airmen to check their LES for the COLA adjustments.

"If they are still getting a full rate BAS or COLA, they need to let us know," she said. "If it's not reduced, then it will be later."

Adjustments will be made in a lump sum if they don't appear when they are supposed to, she said. This lump sum could be taken any time after the effective date adjustments are implemented. It is better for Airmen who do not see adjustments to tell the 52nd Comptroller Squadron as soon as possible rather than be surprised months later because they received unauthorized pay.

Airmen will be told if there are expected delays in these reductions. Until then, Sergeant Quevedo asks that Airmen plan accordingly.