Baucus, Tester introduce bill to give troops who've served extended duty more time to collect bonuses
Senators’ Bill would Extend October Deadline to Claim Stop Loss Pay Raises by One Year
(Washington, DC) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester introduced legislation today to extend the deadline by one year for military service members to claim pay raises they’ve earned after having their service involuntarily extended under military orders known as “stop loss.”
Baucus and Tester in 2009 helped secure an additional $500 per month for U.S. troops affected by stop loss, but fewer than half of eligible service members have submitted claims for the additional pay. The deadline to file a claim is currently October 21.
Baucus also sent a letter today to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs urging them to initiate a ‘comprehensive and aggressive outreach campaign’ to make sure every troop eligible for the bonus pay is notified about the special payment.
“Our troops sacrifice so much – leaving their families, their jobs, and their homes behind to protect our way of life. And when our troops are called upon to extend their service, that sacrifice is even greater,” Baucus said. “The pay raises we passed for troops serving under extended duty are a small gesture compared to all they’ve done for our country. Still, this extra pay provides significant support for our troops and their families, and the least we can do is make sure they have the time and information they need to collect the pay they deserve. We'll work to pass this bill as soon as possible so our troops can get the money they’ve earned.”
“Thousands of America’s men and women in uniform earned this pay when they answered the call of duty longer than expected, defending our freedom in places far away from their homes and families,” said Tester, whose Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act became law earlier this year. “Now we owe them a fair window of opportunity to claim the pay they’ve earned.”
Under a law Tester and Baucus helped pass last year, service members whose service was extended under stop-loss orders between September 11, 2001 and September 30, 2009 are eligible for $500 per month spent in stop loss status. In 2009 the Secretary of Defense announced a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the current use of stop loss by March 2011.
Stop loss is a practice where the military has the authority to involuntarily extend the service of troops deployed in conflict zones. As deployment schedules have stabilized for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense has announced plans to minimize its use of stop loss. In 2009 the Secretary of Defense announced a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the current use of stop loss by March 2011. Currently, the Army is the only service using stop loss and has announced plans to eliminate the practice by March 2011.
Military service members, veterans and survivors who may qualify for stop loss special pay can file a claim to collect the money they’ve earned at: http://www.defense.gov/stoploss.
In addition to the one-year extension in the bill Baucus and Tester introduced today, the Senators are also supporting a short-term extension until December 3, 2010 to ensure time does not run out for troops to collect the money they’ve earned.