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Air Force pilot program: All Things Financial

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jared Duhon
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Money makes the world go round, or so the saying goes. When returning from deployment, preparing for a TDY, or the ever common computer error, Airmen must be ready to support the mission.

The mission cannot work effectively with lost man hours from Airmen trying to fix pay problems that may or may not be fixed within a day.

With this in mind, in August 2012, the Air Force chose Dover AFB to be one of the pilot bases, the only one in Air Mobility Command, for a new program appropriately named, All Things Financial. The base chose the 436th Aerial Port Squadron, home to more than 500 "Port Dawgs," to be host to the ATF pilot program.

"Before the program, I spent a lot of time at the finance office," said Senior Airman Ashley Books, 436th APS travel management office. "With ATF, I am able to walk into the office for small financial issues and get it taken care of within minutes."

The program places a finance Airman with a unit, in this case the 436th APS, where they become the go-to person for "all things finance."

Senior Airman Stephen Yelbert currently serves as the 436th Comptroller Squadron all things finance specialist for the 436th APS and the position is irreplaceable said Steve Minard, 436th APS combat readiness flight chief.

"I don't know how we did without the program," said Minard. "The lost man hours trying to get problems with pay or deduction issues make it an understatement to say this program is invaluable. He knows everything financial, and then some. He helps Airmen with in-processing, deployment travel pay and any training TDY involved with the deployment, as well as the basics."

The Aerial Port has around 80 Airmen, or more, on six-month Air & Space Expeditionary Force rotations and ATF has help cut the various financial problems surrounding deployments down to next to nothing, said Lt. Col Heather Cook, 436th APS commander.

"All Things Finance is one of the best programs, as a commander, I have seen implemented," said Cook. "With the volume of Airmen we have deployed, since the start of ATF we have not had any Government Travel Card issues, vouchers are timely, unless there are system glitches, and our Airmen receive the attention they need."

APS is a 24-hour facility making it difficult for some Airmen, especially those who work nightshift, to go to finance during normal duty hours, said Yelbert. Yelbert has been in the ATF since August 2013, and in that time he has expanded on his predecessor processes, as well as earning the trust of the members.

"This job requires the same attention to detail I would have back at the finance office, but in the Aerial Port it requires a different approach," said Yelbert. "Working within the Aerial Port squadron allows me to understand the Air Force's mission better and it allows me to help them get travel vouchers accomplished as well as other pay problems fixed or questions answered. It also allows me to use the skills I learned in tech. school making the transition from financial management to budget analysis easier."

Airmen and civilians in the 436th APS think of each other like a family and affectionately call themselves the "Port Dawgs." An Airman in the ATF position is embedded with the APS and treated like they are one of family as well.

"We view Airman Yelbert and his predecessor, as true members of the Port Dawgs family," said Cook. "They have integrated into the unit, they have made themselves present at staff meetings to answer any budget or finance questions. They have just been magnificent. I've found it's the people that Maj. William Vivoni selects for the position that makes the program fabulous."

An ATF Airman is picked because they are great workers as well as the knowledge they possess allowing for on the spot question-answering, said Senior Master Sgt. Mandy Williams, 436th CPTS superintendent.

"We picked Airman Yelbert because of his knowledge and professionalism," said Williams. "For each Airman that is picked, we have to decide what their technical ability is and how many years do they have in financial services. The Airman will have to answer a lot of questions fast. We would also find an Airman that would fit in and wants to do it, because we are there to make customers happy."

Yelbert also works with Minard whose additional duty is resource advisor.

"He is extremely helpful because if I am out he has the knowledge to assign government purchase cards and help with any issue dealing with large purchases," said Minard. "When the Air Force started using the defense enterprise accounting management system, Yelbert took the classes and was instrumental in helping me understand it."

Because of the time spent with the squadron, some of the Port Dawgs feel a connection with Airman Yelbert.

"It is nice to come back from deployment and see a familiar face, he knows everyone," said Books. "It helps to have an actual person to help with DTS. All Things Finance allows me to focus on reacclimating with my unit and my family instead of finances."