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Servicemembers who bought gear can claim reimbursement

by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON -- Some servicemembers who bought their own protective gear will get reimbursed for the purchase under a new policy approved Oct. 4. David S.C. Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, approved the directive that allows servicemembers to be reimbursed "for privately purchased protective, safety or health equipment."

The order covers the period between Sept. 10, 2001, and Aug. 1, 2004. Pentagon officials said "relatively few" servicemembers are affected by the order. In the early days of the war on terrorism, there was a shortage of interceptor armor. The services issue body armor to those most in need of it; however, some servicemembers -- both active and reserve component -- bought their own protection.

Legislation passed by Congress earlier this year authorized the services to reimburse servicemembers for the expenditures. The legislation applies to a specified set of personal protection equipment and can be claimed "by either the member or by another person on behalf of the member for the member's personal use in anticipation of, or during, the member's deployment for operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom."

Reimbursement is limited to the actual purchase price, plus shipping, of the equipment, and servicemembers must have the receipts. Under the legislation, those claiming reimbursement must turn in their privately purchased gear. The services will destroy the equipment, as it may not meet government standards. Under the policy, reimbursement cannot exceed $1,100 for any one piece of equipment.

The services can request to add items to the list. The list includes the complete outer tactical vest or equivalent commercial ballistic vests. The components of the vest -- the groin protector, throat protector, yoke and collar assembly, collar protector, ballistics inserts and small arms protective inserts -- are covered individually. The list also includes the Kevlar helmet, ballistic eye protection and hydration systems. (Courtesy of Air Force Print News)

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