CPTS accomodates missions at home, downrange

Staff Sgt. Clay DeRogatis, 39th Comptroller Squadron, counts money as he cashes a check for a customer Oct. 27, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The cash cage on Incirlik is the only one on a U.S. Air Forces in Europe installation and offers base residents a place to cash checks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

Staff Sgt. Clay DeRogatis, 39th Comptroller Squadron, counts money as he cashes a check for a customer Oct. 27, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The cash cage on Incirlik is the only one on a U.S. Air Forces in Europe installation and offers base residents a place to cash checks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

Staff Sgt. Clay DeRogatis, 39th Comptroller Squadron, speaks with a customer Oct. 27, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The cash cage on Incirlik is the only one on a U.S. Air Forces in Europe installation and offers base residents a place to cash checks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

Staff Sgt. Clay DeRogatis, 39th Comptroller Squadron, speaks with a customer Oct. 27, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The cash cage on Incirlik is the only one on a U.S. Air Forces in Europe installation and offers base residents a place to cash checks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Knowles, 39th Comptroller Squadron, counts rolls of coins before exchanging them for bills Nov. 4, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The cash cage on Incirlik is the only one on a U.S. Air Forces in Europe installation and offers base residents a place to cash checks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Knowles, 39th Comptroller Squadron, counts rolls of coins before exchanging them for bills Nov. 4, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The cash cage on Incirlik is the only one on a U.S. Air Forces in Europe installation and offers base residents a place to cash checks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Since banks in the local area don't carry American currency, the responsibility falls on the 39th Comptroller Squadron to operate check-cashing services to base occupants, pay vendors that supply base utilities and provide money needed in urgent situations at deployed locations.

Incirlik's is the only cash cage at a U.S. Air Forces in Europe installation.

"We offer this here because there's no bank on base, so we have to provide as a bank. We have to offer base residents a place where they can cash checks," said Staff Sgt. Clay DeRogatis, 39th CPTS deputy disbursing officer. "We manage all the money for deployments and make sure people can cash checks; we pay vendors and make sure people can deploy on time with cash availability."

Because of the proximity to Operations Enduring Freedom, the cash cage is not only able to cash checks for members of Team Incirlik, but also to fund emergency financial needs downrange.

"We stand directly in support of operations in Afghanistan," explained DeRogatis. "If something was to happen and we needed to get people out or in, we would need that money to get everybody in and out of the country."

Between cashing checks for base residents, paying local vendors and getting money downrange, Incirlik's cash cage moves a significant amount of money each day.

"We take in money from the commissary and The Exchange and places like that and (electronic funds transfer) it into their actual bank accounts," said DeRogatis. "We pay local vendors in Turkish lira through the local bank off base, so we coordinate with those banks, as well.

"We also pay the companies responsible for providing the utilities we use around base like electricity on base and things like that," said DeRogatis.

On a smaller scale, members of Team Incirlik looking to go off base and require Turkish lira can stop by the 39th CPTS and exchange currency.

"For people who want to exchange U.S. dollars for Turkish lira, we have a computer system called Central Disbursing System, and that's programmed with the exchange rate," explained DeRogatis. "We can type in the amount of money were given and it will tell us the amount in lira."

Currently working in the cage are two deputy disbursing officers, or DDOs, and a cashier. To hold the title of DDO, service members must attend a week-long Defense Finance and Accounting Services-Indiana course where they are schooled on how to run the Central Disbursing System along with the other responsibilities of the cage. During training, each student is evaluated to ensure they don't have past issues making them unable to perform the duties of a DDO.

"You're actually trained by the disbursing officer and his team," said DeRogatis. "While you're there, they train you on how to use the CDS system and how to manage funds. They also do background checks to make sure you're financially capable of doing that kind of stuff, like you don't have any bad credit history or things like that."

The difference between a DDO and a cashier is the amount of responsibility. A cashier is only responsible for a set amount of money and makes local transactions, whereas the DDOs are responsible for all the money in the cage and tasks that extend past the base.

"So the cashier is like an agent under the disbursing officer," explained DeRogatis.

As an agent appointed under the disbursing officer for the DoD, DeRogatis says he appreciates the opportunity to do a job with such a broad impact on the Air Force.

"Being a DDO in the United States Air Force is a challenging but rewarding job," said DeRogatis. "It is definitely a way to challenge yourself and see how our host nations run their banking systems. To say I love being a DDO is an understatement."