COLA survey becomes available soon
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Service members on Yokota Air Base have the opportunity to voice their opinions and possibly make a difference in their Cost of Living Allowance.
The Living Pattern Survey, a part of the COLA survey, takes place Jan. 15 to Feb. 15 online.
"This survey is vital in determining the COLA rate, which helps to supplement all of the extra costs and fees of goods and services we have in overseas locations," said 2nd Lt. D'Andre G. Benjamin, the 374th Financial Service officer. "Maximum participation of uniformed members is highly encouraged."
COLA, is a non-taxable allowance designed to offset the higher overseas prices of non-housing goods and services. It is intended to equalize purchasing power so service members can purchase the same level of goods and services overseas as they could if they were stationed in the continental United States. It is calculated by comparing the prices of goods and services overseas with average prices for equivalent goods and services in CONUS. The result of this comparison is an index reflecting a cost of living.
"Due to recent drops in COLA and the last survey being completed more than three years ago, Yokota Air Base is overdue for an update," Benjamin said.
Tech. Sgt. Bryan Quesada, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Supply Section for American Forces Network, Yokota, participated in the previous COLA survey during his tour in Okinawa and encourages members to participate on the upcoming survey.
"Definitely (take the survey), because that affects the COLA (rate) a lot," Quesada said. "It's easy to do; the questions are matter of yes or no."
His wife, Cristina G. Quesada, a cashier at commissary, said she finds COLA very helpful, but currently not enough to meet the high living standards in Japan when she shops for groceries outside the base.
Although it is important to complete the survey, it is not available to everyone.
"Single members that reside off-base and members under Status of Forces Agreement are able to participate," Benjamin said. "However, those who are single that reside in barracks, dorms on-base, or aboard a ship are not able to take the survey."
Army Maj. Steven R. Smith, the Financial Manager of U.S. Forces Japan, also urged that service members take the survey.
"This survey affects us all," Smith said. "Everyone eligible is encouraged to take the survey, and the survey shouldn't take any more than 30 minutes to complete, maybe less."
To take the survey, visit http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/lps-japan.cfm.