ABOARD USS GUNSTON HALL --
In this day and age, with direct deposit paychecks and credit cards, Marines in the states may not notice the work that the disbursing section does for them.
But, once those same Marines are deployed away from their financial institutions, like the Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), it is hard not to notice the importance of the services disbursing provides.
"The demand for disbursing services from the Marine side is unusually high during the first months of the deployment,"said 2nd Lt. Christopher Hirl, the disbursing officer for Combat Logistics Battalion 22, the Logistics Combat Element for the 22nd MEU(SOC).
The disbursing office is on the USS Kearsarge, the Flag Ship of the Kearsarge Strike Group. But, since there are Marines on different ships, the disbursing Marines must travel to the other ships and take care of the Marines there as well.
Hirl said the high demand for disbursing is due to several factors.
Most modern American Navy ships have transitioned away from using cash and instead rely on a"ship card." The ship card has a chip for storing electronic information, as well as the magnetic strip usually found on the back of credit and debit cards.
Marines use the chip while they are aboard ship to buy things from the ship store or vending machines and use the magnetic strip for making purchases in the local economies of many of the countries they may visit.
The disbursing Marines are responsible for getting cards ordered for the Marines, transferring cash to the cards for the Marines and helping the Marines deal with any problems that might come up.
Additionally, with last-minute preparations leading up to the deployment, as well as Marines who were attached to the unit just prior to deployment, some Marines are still waiting for their ship cards to make it through the mail to the ship.
While they stay in touch with the company that processes the card orders, trying to expedite the deliveries, the disbursing Marines can still get money to where it is needed.
They can cash checks for Marines or give them"casual pay" which is money deducted from a Marine's pending payday. Part of that money can be added to a temporary ship card to use aboard the ship.
Lance Cpl. Carlos Trujillo, a basic water support technician, was one of the Marines to take advantage of the disbursing Marines'visit to the USS Gunston Hall.
He drew casual pay to purchase souvenirs for his parents at the next port the ship visits.
"It's a good way to be able to get money to use out there,"Trujillo said.
Cpl. Malcolm Quick, a disburser with CLB-22, said that while the demand for disbursing services right now means they have to go to the other ships a couple times a month, later on, they may only have to go once a month.
"We're always happy to provide any services,"said Hirl. "All we need is to be made aware of demand from those ships."