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4 Years After Hurricane Maria Duty, VING Members Get ‘Corrected-Payment’ Checks

KINGSHILL — Governor Albert Bryan joined Adjutant General Kodjoe Know-Limbacker and the leadership at the Virgin Islands National Guard this week to present members of the National Guard with checks for past due pay for work in the days following the 2017 hurricanes.

During the short meeting with the guard members, Governor Bryan noted that the men and women of the Virgin Islands National Guard have answered the call in those dark and uncertain days after hurricanes Irma and Maria and are still there today on the front lines of the territory’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor added that those men and women are deserving of our gratitude and more than deserving of just compensation for their service and expressed his disappointment that they were not adequately compensated for their service in 2017 is deeply disappointing.

Four years after the devastation of two category five hurricanes, which led to 24-hour support operations, commodity transportation, debris removal, establishing and managing point of distribution sites, and regulating traffic control points, many members of the Virgin Islands National Guard finally received corrected rate payments, January 7, 2022.

Over 433 VING service members were activated on Territorial Active Duty (TAD) to support humanitarian missions after hurricanes Irma and Maria on September 5, 2017, which lasted until November 3, 2017. During the operation, many service members experienced incorrect payment for their time served on status, which led to over four years of service members waiting for accurate compensation. Last December, Governor Albert Bryan Jr., and Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach provided the supplemental funds to The Office of the Adjutant General to issue checks to over 300 service members totaling over $1,093,000.

“Our men and women in the Virgin Islands National Guard are always there in our time of need. They answered the call in those dark and uncertain days after hurricanes Irma and Maria and are still there today in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. They are deserving of our gratitude and more than deserving of just compensation for their service. That they were not adequately compensated for their service in 2017 is deeply disappointing. However, since taking office in 2019, our administration has prioritized paying our Guardsmen and Guardswomen what is owed to them, and I am proud that we have made them whole,” exclaimed Gov. Albert Bryan Jr, during a short ceremony held at the Joint Force Headquarters, Estate Bethlehem Compound.

Under the direction of the Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Kodjo Knox-Limbacker, the Office of the Adjutant General, or OTAG, coordinated with the Division of Personnel, the Department of Finance, the Office of Disaster and Recovery, and the Office of Management and Budget to reconcile discrepancies and accurately compensate the force.

“This was one of the most challenging projects,” said Ms. Nikita Ward, Administrative and Business Manager for the Office of the Adjutant General. “We had to go through all the documentation for each person to see how much they were initially paid to determine the difference to calculate how much they were owed. Once we were able to get that established, we then coordinated with our partner agencies to work together to pay the service members.”

Maj. Gen. Kodjo Knox-Limbacker remained postured to rectify any financial problems stemming from TAD from the beginning of his tenure as the Adjutant General in 2019. His steadfast leadership and unwavering dedication assisted in creating a permanent solution to redress this matter indefinitely.

“This is a great milestone for us to achieve in being able to pay out many of our Guardsmen and women for the services they completed over four years ago,” stated Maj. Gen. Knox-Limbacker. It wasn’t an easy road. It took a lot of detailed analysis and deliberation to pay the Guardsmen and women for the services they provided during our Territory’s time of need. The force remains resilient regardless of individual circumstances. I thank you all for your commitment, for your dedication, and your continued support to our Territory as you serve both the Army and Air Guard of the Virgin Islands.”

Knox-Limbacker continues, “Through it all, the VING soldiers and airmen continue to support the Virgin Islands Territory in its time of need. We will always be ready and always be there to provide exceptional professional support and expertise to the community in which we reside while being postured to fight and win our Nation’s wars. The Guardians of the Eastern Front remain Ready, Relevant, and Responsive to our Virgin Islands!”

Since taking office in 2019, the Bryan-Roach Administration has prioritized making whole those guardsmen and women who were owed.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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