Tester rallies support for dwell time measure on Senate floor

Measure will protect ‘military’s most valuable asset,’ Senator says

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Calling on his colleagues to protect "the well-being of our troops and their families," Senator Jon Tester today rallied support for a bipartisan measure supporting U.S. military personnel while protecting America's military strength.

"Make no mistake, this amendment is about ensuring that we do not do permanent damage to the military's most valuable asset—its people," Tester said during a Senate floor speech this afternoon.

Tester is a cosponsor of the measure by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va..  The amendment requires the U.S. military to keep troops at home for rest and recuperation (dwell time) for the same amount of time they serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Tester was one of 56 senators who voted for an original version of the amendment in July.  But because the measure didn't get 60 votes, it did not move forward for debate.

The new version of the dwell time amendment allows the President to make exceptions in the event of a national security emergency.  It also adds a 120-day enactment period, which gives the Pentagon four months to adjust to the new policy once the measure becomes law.

"We need to continue to have the strongest military in the world not only today and six months from now, but six years from now as well," Tester said.

Tester cited military statistics that show multiple deployments with short periods of rest in between raises the incidences of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Studies have shown that the likelihood of troops being diagnosed with PTSD rises by 50% when they are on second or third deployments, Tester said.

"Congress must make the health and wellbeing of our men and women overseas a priority," Tester said.  "Let's not simply debate whether to debate this amendment.  Let's have an up-or-down vote on this measure. Our troops and their families deserve nothing less."

Organizations including the Military Officers Association of America, the National Military Families Association and Veterans for America support the measure.