News that U.S. citizens hired abroad for overseas nonappropriated fund positions have not been getting post allowance has drawn strong reaction from employees and family members.

The Defense Department is now conducting a review of the various services’ and military organizations’ administration of its post allowance policies. The move, which could result in hundreds or even thousands of people getting the allowance, has brought at least the hope of relief to Americans who work in Europe but don’t get the allowance.

With the slumping value of the U.S. dollar against the euro, Naples Morale, Welfare and Recreation employee Paul Gadbois said he not only curtailed travel and dining out in Italy, but he tends to wear his fleece for warmth a lot more to avoid turning the heat on at home.

“Prices on the economy have doubled in the past couple of years at the same time that the dollar has gone down,” said Gadbois, a 20-year MWR employee. “We don’t go out to eat, ever.”

“On top of that, the cost of gas rations just went up again, and with fuel costs on the economy of about $8 a gallon, we can’t afford to travel,” he said.

Gary Hall, who has worked as a maintenance man at RAF Mildenhall, England, for nine years, welcomed the prospect of post allowance.

“When the exchange rate was 1.5 [dollars to the British pound], we’re living fairly well,” said Hall, who lives in nearby Brandon. “But as it’s moved to the 2-to-1 bracket, it’s very difficult.”

As his pay has diminished in value, Hall said he and his wife cut certain activities out of their lives. “We used to go line dancing and stuff like that,” he said, but now they don’t. “You have to be extremely careful with your expenditures.”

Air Force Staff Sgt. Rick Zuniga of Aviano Air Base, Italy, was critical of the Air Force’s NAF pay-setting policies in Italy. His wife, Kim, is a NAF accounting technician whose pay was cut by about $2.40 an hour when she moved with her husband from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to Aviano.

Zuniga noted a Sunday article in Stars and Stripes that quoted an Air Force spokesman as saying the Air Force believed its NAF pay-setting procedures were already sufficient to compensate for the cost of living.

“You would think that since the job is the same and [Italy’s] cost of living is so high, it would at least be close in pay,” he said.

The Army’s U.S. civilian NAF employees, who have gotten post allowance, are not concerned about the ongoing Defense Department review of all services’ policies.

“I don’t have a problem with it, as long as they don’t lessen mine,” said Tom Stenson, an eight-year NAF employee who manages the arts and crafts shop on Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany.

Stars and Stripes reporters Geoff Ziezulewicz, Sandra Jontz and Mark St.Clair contributed to this story.

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