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Soldiers may be reimbursed for protective gear

By Maj. Paul Cucuzzella

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 13, 2006) -- Soldiers may now file claims and receive reimbursement for protective equipment privately purchased between Sept. 11, 2001, and July 31, 2004.

A provision of the 2005 Defense Authorization Act allows for the reimbursement if service members weren’t issued equivalent equipment prior to deployment in Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.

No armor shortage now

There is no need anymore for Soldiers to purchase protective equipment on their own, said Col. Thomas W. Spoehr, director of Materiel for the Army’s G8.

“There are no shortages; in fact there is excess in the theater to accommodate lost, damaged or otherwise missing body armor,” Spoehr said. “All who need the armor have it, and secondly, Army body armor is the best military body armor in the world. Anything you could procure commercially would not be as capable.”

The Army began reimbursing Soldiers Nov. 21 up to $1,100 for any single item such as protective body armor, combat helmets, ballistic eye protection, hydration systems, summer weight gloves, and knee and elbow pads.

A Soldier may be reimbursed for the purchase of a complete outer tactical vest, or for the separately-purchased components of an OTV, to include Small Arms Protective Insert plates, according to the U.S. Army Claims Service.

Soldiers can also be paid for these items if the items were purchased for them by someone else, such as members of their family.

File DD Form 2902

Current active-duty or reserve-component Soldiers who seek reimbursement should complete and file a DD Form 2902 with the first field grade commander in their current chain of command.

Soldiers must provide proof of deployment (such as deployment orders or a DD Form 214 noting deployment) and copies of all receipts or other proof of purchase for the items claimed, and turn in all reimbursable items to their unit at the time the claim is filed.

If a Soldier is not in possession of some or all of the items, he should submit a written statement explaining why the items are not available, officials said.

Former Soldiers and survivors of deceased Soldiers should complete DD Form 2902 and mail it directly to the U.S. Army Claims Service at the address provided in block 12 of the form. Forms must be accompanied by copies of proof of deployment and proof of purchase, and the items for which reimbursement is sought. Shipping costs for delivering items to the Claims Service are compensable and can be noted on the DD Form 2902.

Forms available on Web

Claimants can download a printable DD Form 2902 at www.jagcnet.army.mil under “Client Services and Links,” or call (301) 677-7009 ext. 431 for additional information. All claims must be filed by Oct 3.

Eventually the Army will have enough sets of armor to become a normal issue item, even in the United States. The goal was to have 800,000 sets by the second quarter of 2006.

“The Army has fielded roughly 700,000 sets of Interceptor Body Armor as of today,” Spoehr said. “We are meeting all our established goals.”

(Editor’s note: Maj. Paul Cucuzzella serves with the U.S. Army Claims Service. ARNEWS correspondent John Reese contributed to this article.)

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