NAF workers with third-nation citizenship denied post allowance
Stars and Stripes May 23, 2008
Hundreds of nonappropriated fund employees throughout the world had a reason to celebrate recently when the Defense Department announced that all full-time workers should be receiving a cost-of-living allowance.
However, not all NAF employees were jumping for joy.
For a group of third-country nationals — those who are neither American citizens nor citizens of the host nation — the DOD’s ruling in March didn’t mean much.
Unlike local national employees who are paid in the local currency, these third-country nationals are paid in U.S. dollars, with no compensation for a constantly declining dollar.
"The requirement for U.S. Citizenship in order to receive most overseas allowances is not only in DOD policy and Department of State regulation, but also in law," said Lt. Col. Les’ Melnyk, a Defense Department spokesman with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. The extra pay, known as post allowance, is a tax-free supplement that compensates employees based overseas in areas with a higher cost of living than Washington, according to the State Department Web site.
"This is like a United Nations of discrimination," said Rebecca Eusey, a Navy Exchange employee in Naples, Italy, speaking with co-workers from Great Britain, Australia, Panama and Spain.
Eusey is a Canadian citizen by birth. She is also a legal resident alien of the U.S. and married to a Navy sailor.
"I have a Social Security number, and I pay taxes. For all intents and purposes, I am an American — but I am not a citizen," Eusey said. "As foreign nationals, we leave our family and our culture to support our spouses around the world defending American values. We see the ads that say ‘America Supports You,’ but America doesn’t even know we exist."
That sense of anonymity isn’t unfounded.
The Civilian Personal Management Service tracks statistics on U.S. and local national employees, but provides no information on third-country nationals. This makes it difficult to determine how much of the NAF work force comes from this category.
"We do not have DOD-wide data which clearly identifies all NAF third country nationals who are paid from U.S. currency," Melnyk said.
But should citizenship be a determining factor for pay?
"For me, a post allowance is based on where you’re posted, not where you’re from," said Natalie Bell, another Naples-based Navy Exchange employee. She is an Australian citizen married to a Navy warrant officer.
"It’s given to compensate for the expense of living overseas. Our expenses here are the same as everyone else’s," Bell said.