AKO portal adds benefits tool, gear forum

The Army Knowledge Online portal today launches a new benefits tool for soldiers, retirees and their families.

The tool links numerous sites providing soldier benefits and services. They include the TriCare military health system, Army Recruiting, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Casualty Assistance and Veterans' Burial Benefits.

Those links will span soldiers' lives from enlistment to retirement, said John Radke, the chief of Army Retirement Services, in an announcement.

'Our goal is one-stop shopping of soldier's benefits,' Radke said.

Last month, the AKO portal added a forum for soldiers to post reviews of how effectively their equipment worked in the field. The Soldier Equipment forum brought hundreds of troops together online in threaded discussions about their uniforms, body armor, thermal weapon sights, night-vision devices and boots.

The soldiers also discussed the Army's Rapid Fielding initiative, which lets unit commanders who are soon to go overseas purchase whatever commercial items they think their units might need.

Feedback from the discussions will be shared with the product development teams, Army officials said.

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