Sand dollars: Money matters in the desert

15 Jul 2003 | Army Spc. Bronwyn M. Meyer

Like a mobile automatic teller machine convoying from base to base a team of Marines moves around Kuwait ensuring that service members always have a way to get cash. There are no banks at most bases to get cash so once a week at an airbase in Kuwait Marines, soldiers and sailors stand in line to get money for all the essentials."There are no ATM's out here (Ali Al Saleem) and not everyone has a credit card," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Deitz, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 career retention specialist and Eugene, Ore., native.A team of five Marines from Combat Service Support Battalion 18 serves many of the bases in Kuwait, doling out money to the troops waiting in line and sometimes helping the troops save a little money also.Disbursing is an easy way for troops to get cash for snacks, hygiene items, a deck of cards or compact discs - anything the Post Exchange has to offer."It gives the troops the opportunity to get souvenirs or to go to the PX instead of going to the chow hall or eating Meals Ready-To-Eat," said Staff Sgt. Darryl Talayumptewa, CSSB 18 disbursing chief.The troops can use their military identification cards to get casual pay (taken from their next pay period) or cash a check. Talayumptewa said some service members even save their hard earned money with the Savings Deposit Program. Marines can deposit their money into this program to earn a higher percentage of money earned on a deposit."There is a better interest [rate] than if you had your money sitting in a bank," said Talayumptewa.Disbursing is helping to improve the quality of life by putting cash into the hands of the service members who, otherwise, would be doing without even more while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom."It doesn't necessarily make it feel like home, but it raises the comfort of living," said Deitz.