Financial acronyms are important to know if you are a Soldier or a Family member. Knowing what these mean can help a Soldier understand their pay packages and help Family members when their Soldier is deployed or at training.
For a full list of Army acronyms and definitions, there is a dictionary online at www.dtic.mil/doctrine/dod_dictionary.
The Soldier’s Leave and Earning Statement is their paystub. It shows everything the Soldier is receiving in terms of entitlements, deductions and allotments, as well as leave accrued. The statement also shows their total pay. The LES contains all tax information and the pay period for which it is good. Soldiers can get paid bimonthly or once a month. For help reading an LES, visit https://www.dfas.mil/militarymembers.html and scroll to the bottom the page. Under a heading called “Understanding your LES,” you’ll find a downloadalble PDF.
BAH and BAS
Basic allowance for housing and basic allowance for subsistence are part of the Soldiers’ pay package. Soldiers receive a base pay and then added on packages depending on their jump status, location, deployment status and Family status. BAH is calculated based on rank, number of dependents and location, whereas BAS is a flat rate. Enlisted Soldiers receive slightly higher BAS rates than officers.
You can find a BAH calculator at http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm. This may not be accurate to the dollar, but it will give you an idea of what to expect when moving to a new duty station.
BAS is supposed to be used to offset Soldiers’ cost of food. Historically, the Army paid for Soldiers’ meals in designated dining facilities. BAS is a modern version of this idea. BAS does tend to fluctuate on a yearly basis based on the current cost of food. For fiscal year 2017, a BAS increase did not happen because the cost of food did not rise country-wide.
Army Emergency Relief has been helping Soldiers and their Families since World War II. In 1942, AER was created as a private organization whose goal was to raise funds to help those Soldiers who were in need.
Throughout the years, AER has adjusted for what their emergency funds can be used. From essential vehicle repair to HVAC and car seats, AER loans are designed for easy access.
According to their website, AER’s core values include caring, integrity, excellence, sustainability and adaptability. If you find yourself in a position that you may need some extra help, AER loans may be the way to go. AER funds can be distributed in the form a grant, which doesn’t have to be repaid, to an interest-free loan, which does have to be repaid. The people at AER are very good at working with military Families to help make repayment easier.
AER also funds scholarships for spouses and children. You can apply for an AER loan or scholarship at the Soldier Support Center on the third floor Army Emergency Relief office or online at https://www.aerhq.org/.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service handles payment to all military and Department of Defense personnel, retirees and contractors. Any questions about entitlements and pay can be answered by DFAS. DFAS also handles all travel pay. To access an LES, Soldiers visit the MyPay website, which is an extension of the DFAS website.
DFAS was created in 1991 to help consolidate financial and accounting services. By centralizing the Department of Defense’s financial obligations to military personnel and civilians, lawmakers hoped to reduce the cost of accounting costs. The DFAS headquarters is located in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The mission of DFAS is to “lead our customers in finance and accounting by ensuring the delivery of efficient, exceptional quality pay and financial information.”
To learn more about DFAS and to have any questions answered, visit their website at https://www.dfas.mil.
(If you have any questions you’d like answered, please email me at AHansen@theparaglide.com.)