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Some Service Members Eligible For Wartime Pay, Benefits

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2001 – Some active duty and reserve component troops may qualify under federal law for extra duty pays and benefits for their contributions in the war on terrorism.

For example, guardsmen and reservists called to active duty by President Bush Sept. 14 in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon are eligible for a variety of contingency benefits, said Navy Capt. Chris Kopang, DoD director of compensation.

Such pay and benefits, he added, were last enacted during the Kosovo military operations. Military commanders and unit personnel offices determine service members' eligibility for contingency pay and benefits, he noted.

Reserve component contingency pay and benefits include:

o Full basic allowance for housing, determined at the with or without dependents rate, as appropriate, immediately upon callup.

o Contiguous U.S. cost-of-living allowance, or CONUS COLA, regardless of the period of callup, when in support of a contingency operation.

o Reservists, retirees and retired reservists recalled to active duty in support of a contingency operation can sell back up to 90 days of accrued leave during their careers, instead of 60 days under the normal limitation. Under contingency rules, active duty service members may now accumulate up to 90 days of leave, instead of 60.

o Upon release from active duty, reserve component members and their dependents retain military medical and dental benefits for 30 days or until they are covered by a civilian employer's health plan, whichever is earlier.

When active and reserve troops deploy on contingency operations, they may also qualify for:

o Family separation allowance: $100 a month if member has dependents.

o Quality of life hardship pay: Troops get an extra $50, $100, or $150 a month, depending on where they serve. Troops getting the most money are stationed in harsh, austere areas considered as lacking quality of life found at stateside or similar environs.

o Imminent danger pay: Troops receive $150 each month if they are deployed in an area designated as dangerous by the individual combatant commanders, or CINCs.

o Hostile fire pay is event-based. Troops who are actually under enemy fire receive $150 a month. Troops cannot receive both imminent danger and hostile fire pay.

o Troops wounded and hospitalized as the result of hostile fire may receive $150 a month for up to three months while hospitalized.

o All service members who are provided quarters and meals while deployed receive an additional $3.50 a day ($105 a month) allowance for incidental expenses.

o Storage of service members' personal vehicles is authorized for those deployed in contingency operations.

Upon presidential or congressional approval, service members deployed in combat zones or qualified hazardous duty areas may also realize federal income tax savings, Kopang said. Under this program, all enlisted and warrant officer pay is exempt from federal tax, while commissioned officers can exempt up to $5,043.60 a month. Service members deployed in support of these operations may also be granted delays in tax filing, with no penalties or interest.

Kopang noted that service members in specialties that provide special pay and require periodic recertifications, like health professionals and linguists, may have related certification/recertification testing waived. Members would then be allowed to up to 180 days after the end of their contingency deployments to be recertified.

The defense secretary may also authorize members' eligibility for the Uniformed Services Savings Deposit Program, Kopang remarked. Under this program, service members may deposit current pay and allowances, less allotments, and receive interest of not more than 10 percent a year, on deposits of up to $10,000 per member.

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