O'Halleran Prevents Clawback of AZ Servicemember Housing Benefits
VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK – This week, following pressure from Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), the National Guard Bureau announced it has directed a permanent halt to a planned clawback of housing funds given to servicemembers stationed at Silverbell Army Heliport, and announced an increase in these funds for all eligible soldiers serving at the base.
Last year, some servicemembers stationed at Silverbell Army Heliport began receiving a higher Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) benefit that reflected the location of the base, accurately following DoD policy. Previously, servicemembers had been receiving a lower BAH because the allowance reflected the mailing address of the base, which, in this instance, is not the physical location. Following the increase in the BAH, the state reversed course and announced they would only recognize the mailing address when calculating the BAH, and reported they would begin recovering excess funds from servicemembers who received the higher BAH. Servicemembers were set to see hundreds or thousands of dollars clawed back, depending on each case.
“After months of working with all stakeholders and the families affected, I am encouraged by this week’s announcement by the National Guard Bureau to once and for all provide clarity and end any effort to recoup housing allowance funds from Arizona servicemembers at Silverbell. Now more than ever, these soldiers and their families need certainty, so I am pleased that eligible servicemembers will begin receiving the increased housing allowance to which they are entitled,” said Rep. O’Halleran.
In a letter to O’Halleran, the National Guard Bureau confirmed that servicemembers would not face recoupment and that future BAH payments would be made based off the physical location of the base. You can read the letter here.
“This should have never been an issue, and it is shameful that it ever got to this point,” continued O’Halleran. “NGB has verified what I, soldiers, and their familieshave been saying from the start: the DOD policies are clear, and they must be followed. My staff and I have been on the ground, working directly with the affected servicemembers, and we will continue to work with them to ensure they are getting the benefits they deserve.”
National Guard servicemembers stationed at Silverbell who had received the higher BAH based off the physical location of the base since 2017 were notified in July that, per the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office (USPFO) of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA), their benefits would be clawed back.
In a letter to Governor Ducey and Major General McGuire, dated September 14, Rep. O’Halleran urged the leaders to:
- Put an immediate stop to any recoupment of benefits set to take place beginning September 15th.
- Correct the determination by the state that BAH is based on a mailing address to ensure every eligible soldier receives their fair and accurate BAH to which they are entitled moving forward.
- Reimburse any recoupment that has taken place or takes place in the near future as a result of the incorrect initial determination.
- Ensure soldiers whose DA-5960’s were not processed at the time USPFO placed a pause to investigate whether the change was legitimate receive the difference in BAH benefits they should have received, along with those whose forms had been processed.