For years, Allen Schneider, who works for AAFES in Italy, received a post allowance to help offset the high cost of living in Europe. Then, about a dozen years ago, he was cut off.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service human resources representative told him that, according to U.S. law, Americans hired abroad for overseas jobs weren’t authorized to receive the allowance.

That interpretation — long held by AAFES and its sister organization, the Navy Exchange — is now in question.

Exchange employees across the world have scrambled to get the lowdown after Stars and Stripes reported in its Sunday editions that an undetermined number of nonappropriated fund — or NAF — employees should be getting post allowance but aren’t.

“AAFES is engaged in extensive legal and policy discussions to determine if locally hired associates are eligible for post allowances,” Judd Anstey, an AAFES spokesman, wrote in an e-mail response to Stripes.

The Navy Exchange did not respond to requests for information by deadline.

AAFES is the Defense Department’s biggest employer of NAF personnel, and NEX the fourth biggest. Together the exchanges have more than 50,000 employees, but it’s unclear how many of those are overseas local hires who should qualify for post allowance.

Nevertheless, it’s not hard to find people who believe they should be getting the allowance.

Biagio Galeota, who represents nearly 300 Navy NAF employees at bases in Naples, Gaeta and Sigonella as president of Local 3712, Chapter 14 of the American Federation of Government Employees, said he has negotiated for about a year for his members to get post allowance.

His campaign started after he learned that three managers of Morale, Welfare and Recreation — which also employs NAF personnel — in Naples received the supplement while other full-time staffers were not.

“We’re negotiating to have it paid, and paid retroactively,” he said. “We’re talking some serious money.”

The supplement could mean between $300 and $600 a pay period for the Italy-based Navy NAF employees, he said. “And that doesn’t include any back pay.”

Schneider also questioned the termination of his post allowance, but to no avail. But what made his situation perplexing is that he received a housing allowance — which is usually only authorized for employees hired in the U.S. — but was denied post allowance.

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