DARMSTADT, Germany — Sgt. 1st Class Frank McReynolds came home from
Iraq with enough cash in his savings account to buy a 65-inch screen television, get some
bills paid, buy his wife clothes, and make a good down payment on a new BMW.
Little does he know, McReynolds could have bought a lot more toys if he would
have invested in the Savings Deposit Program while deployed.
McReynolds, like many other troops integrating back into the 233rd Base
Support Battalion community, didn't know that if he had put his extra cash into
the Savings Deposit Program, he would have earned a guaranteed 10 percent
Instead, a lot of deployment money is going into bank accounts that average
interest rates around 2 percent or 3 percent, according to Rogelio Castillo, a
financial analyst for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Castillo is
the Savings Deposit Program manager.
It's too late for McReynolds and the rest of the troops who just made it back
from a yearlong deployment, but those heading into the desert should begin the
program now, Castillo said.
Troops can participate in the program after 30 consecutive days of being
deployed outside the United States as long as they are receiving hostile fire
and imminent danger pay, Castillo said.
To make a deposit into the fund, troops need to contact their financial
office while deployed.
The last day to make a deposit into the fund is the date of departure from
the theater. However, interest will accrue up to 90 days after return,
according to Castillo.
Troops can contribute more than $10,000, but interest will not accrue after
that amount, he said.
Withdrawing the money before leaving the combat zone is not authorized,
unless there is an emergency. A soldier would need proof of emergency and a
letter from the command before the money would be released, he said.
Sgt. Mark Day, of Company D, 165th Military Intelligence Battalion in
Darmstadt, also missed out on the extra cash. He said more troops would benefit
from the program if it were advertised better.
"It's a good plan. More people just need to know about it. It needs to be
briefed a little better," Day said.
Day said he first heard about the program a couple of years ago during a
deployment to Kosovo. But he didn't hear word of it during this deployment.
The Savings Deposit Program began in 1990 during Operations Desert Storm and
Desert Shield, Castillo said. It is continuously running and available for
Servicing finance offices are responsible for getting the word for soldiers
to participate in the savings program. Castillo recommends deployed troops
visit their finance office and ask to deposit money into the fund.
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