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In response to the March 26 letter “On-post exchange rates worse”: While I appreciate the problem of military banking facilities ripping off their customers being brought to light, I cannot help but be frustrated this abuse from Department of Defense-sponsored banking facilities has gone on for so long.

Here in the United Kingdom, an E-5 with dependents pays on average $55 extra a month in rent, totaling $660 annually just in rent alone, if using the military banking facility. Factoring in the utility allowance annually, that E-5 is paying nearly $1,000 more than he or she should if using these DOD banks.

Making matters worse, these same banks (Bank of America in the U.K.) offer the worst interest rates on loans and even worse rates on savings and certificates of deposit. The question is why does the DOD stand by and let this happen?

DOD needs to overhaul its overseas banking system and make the business fair for its customers stationed overseas. There is no reason that there should be such a difference in exchanging your money on base than off; if anything, the on-base rate should be better for the consumer than what the local banks are charging off-base.

I could only imagine how our Morale, Welfare and Recreation fund would benefit or even how that struggling E-5’s family could benefit from an extra $1,000 a year in his or her pockets. More needs to be brought to light about the dealings of military banking facilities overseas and where exactly the exorbitant amount of money made from their exchange rate is going.

In the meantime, supervisors should be educating their subordinates about financial dealings with their local military banking facilities. Our airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines deserve better than this and the DOD owes it to us to ensure that fair and ethical business practices are conducted with our money overseas. A monopoly provided by the DOD does not give the right to charge us the maximum rate possible, yet the DOD allows this to continue and it is truly shameful.

Staff Sgt. Keri Christensen

RAF Feltwell, United Kingdom

Blanket statement was cold

I agreed with everything that the author of the March 24 letter “Combat-pay argument is weak” wrote in his response to Michael G. Cummings’ March 21 column about combat pay (“On second deployment, I didn’t deserve combat pay”) — that is, until I read the last sentence: “We are at war in the Middle East and Islam has many dedicated followers; this justifies combat pay for Kuwait, Qatar, et al.”

I completely agree with the rest of the letter writer’s points, but I’d be careful not to make such a blanket statement about a specific religion. Using that reasoning, Timothy McVeigh could give all followers of Christianity a “bad rap.”

Remember, not all Muslims are terrorists, and we would do good to respect others’ religions — especially if we are to “win hearts and minds.”

Spc. Andrea Saylor

Contingency Operating Site Marez, Iraq


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