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When property is lost or damaged, consider filing claims

  • Published
  • By Legal Office
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing
It's been said that into every life, a little rain must fall. That statement rings true in the Kandahar region: Our "little" rain here averages less than 7 inches per year. The problem is that most of the rain falls in just a short time during the winter months. The rapid accumulation of rainfall, combined with highly compact soil, means all the water has nowhere to go. The result is that Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, could see substantial flooding in the coming weeks, and your personal property just might be in the path of those rising floodwaters.

Unfortunately, such flooding occurred on KAF almost a year ago. Rising water crept into the living quarters of the South Park region, and many of its residents lost their personal property to the water. This kind of incident can be detrimental to military morale ... treasured items are gone, and time is wasted purchasing and replacing them.

Last year's flooding is just one example of how a military member's property can be lost in the course of service. Other forms of natural disasters can happen, such as fires, storms or tornados. Sometimes, a member's bags and their contents can be lost or damaged in transit, as many of us have experienced during a household goods move. Even worse, we might fall victim to theft, even when we think our goods have been properly stored and secured.

Fortunately, the Air Force is willing to pay for the loss or damage of a military member's property when the loss is "incident to service." In short, this means you can be reimbursed when there is some meaningful connection between the loss and your military service. For example, if you've been assigned to base housing and your property is damaged due to a disaster or stolen by a thief, you can file a claim for your loss and might be reimbursed. However, if you choose to live off base and a similar incident happens, this loss is probably not reimbursable because the military has no control or connection to your off-base residence.

Also keep in mind that not every loss is reimbursable. For example, if you were negligent in how you handled your own property and you openly left valuables in an unsecured location, the loss or damage might be considered your fault and not reimbursable by the Air Force. If you've already filed for reimbursement through another source, such as your insurance company, then your claim may be denied based on the simple fact that you're already being paid. And certain items simply aren't reimbursable, such as contraband items such as enemy war trophies are, by regulation, not payable.

So, as we approach flood season, here are some common-sense tips on how you can better protect yourself and your goods:
· Keep some kind of record or proof of the goods you've brought with you. Even a simple inventory or a few quick photographs of your belongings can go a long way in proving you owned what you want to claim.
· Exercise care in how you store your goods now so your claim isn't denied based on negligence later. Lock up valuables and secure items in a location where they won't be damaged or destroyed. To avoid potential flood damage, consider sealing unused items in plastic bags or other airtight containers.
· If you purchase valuables while here, keep your receipts so you can later prove what the items are worth.

Remember, if you ever suffer a loss of property while here at KAF, it doesn't hurt to ask if your loss can be reimbursed. Stop by the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Legal Office on the first floor of the command building at Camp Losano, or check out the Air Force Claims Service Center's Web page at https://claims.jag.af.mil/ if you have any questions.