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Time Running Out for Troops, Veterans to Claim ‘Stop Loss’ Pay

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2010 – Eligible servicemembers and veterans have less than three months to apply for Retroactive “Stop Loss” Special Pay. Video

The special pay was approved by Congress as part of the 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act. Servicemembers and veterans who involuntarily served or were on “Stop Loss” from Sept. 11, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2009, are entitled to $500 for each month served past their contracted end-of-service, resignation or retirement date.

“This additional money, this benefit, was granted by Congress to recognize that continued service,” Lernes “Bear” Hebert, acting director of the Defense Department’s Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management office, said in a recent interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.

The Pentagon announced the program Oct. 21, 2009. Those eligible must apply by Oct. 21, 2010, to receive compensation. And, survivors of servicemembers who were under ‘Stop Loss’ orders are entitled to the benefit.

The Defense Department wants to ensure everyone eligible for the special retroactive pay is compensated, Hebert said.

“We only have three months left for individuals to apply for this benefit,” he said. “It’s time to [apply] and get their application in. Notify anyone you’ve served with, even if they have separated, even family members of separated folks to apply.”

Each service has its own criteria and specific outreach and application process. Members and veterans who qualify, or think they are eligible for the special pay must contact their individual services for eligibility requirements.

Information about the program, procedures and points of contact for each individual service can be found at www.defense.gov/stoploss

So far $111 million has been paid out to 25,000 troops and veterans affected by ‘Stop Loss,’ Hebert said. The average payout is $3,000 to $4,000 per claim, he added.

The Pentagon has about $423 million left in the program’s fund.

“Congress authorized a fairly generous number, so we’re not concerned about the money running out,” Hebert said. “We are concerned about individuals getting their applications in.”

The Pentagon and individual services have been reaching out to qualified members, veterans and beneficiaries through direct mailings, veteran services organization, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the media. Those efforts will be ongoing through Oct. 21, 2010, as there is much money left to be claimed, Hebert said.

“The services have been doing tremendous outreach trying to get to all the eligibles,” he said.

Initially there was a large response for claims under the program, Hebert said, but applications have since slowed down.

“Applications have tailed off,” he said. “We suspect that some individuals are either engaged or busy or haven’t taken the time to apply. Part of our continuing efforts is to remind them that they only have about three months left to get their application in.”

Still, Hebert said he expects a surge of claims as the deadline nears. He urges those who are eligible for the retroactive pay to take advantage of it now.

“Congress authorized this for a one-year period,” he said, noting it would require Congress to pass a new law in order to extend the program. “This is firm, so individuals out there who think they might be entitled to this benefit need to get their application in.”

An estimated 145,000 servicemembers, veterans and beneficiaries are entitled for the retroactive pay.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates maintains the authority to extend military service during a period of national emergency, an authority that dates back to 1983. Many of these “Stop Loss” troops were extended involuntarily in order for their units to preserve manpower and readiness in critical skill areas, Hebert said.

“The department uses it sparingly and only when it’s absolutely necessary,” he said. “It’s contrary to the way we operate the all-volunteer force, but it’s necessary in times when you have very high demands … where you don’t have a significant number of individuals with particular skills that you might need during a national emergency.

“It allows the department a bit of breathing room in order to re-establish additional personnel in those specialties,” he added.

The Army is the only service with currently-serving troops affected by the ‘Stop Loss’ authority. But the Army is on track to have all involuntary service ended by March next year, Hebert said.

“[‘Stop Loss’] is a mechanism of last resort for maintaining forces during a national emergency, so while the authority for ‘Stop Loss’ will still exist, the secretary has made it very clear … he wants the services not to use ‘Stop Loss’ at the current time,” he said.

 

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Related Sites:
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay

Related Articles:
Defense Department to Compensate ‘Stop Loss’ Troops



Comments

Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

10/13/2010 3:33:09 PM
I honorably completed my Active Duty Service of 4yrs. I then got called "involuntary" from the IRR. I don't see a difference between Stop Loss and involuntary. The propsed compensation was for that very reason according to the message, "Involuntary" service. My case is still in review status after a month? Are we not eligible? Everyone agrees that it is worse for a person to get recalled than stop lossed so why aren't we compensated when again, it was "Involuntary"!
- Park, Los Angeles, CA

9/12/2010 8:54:07 PM
I have been unable to contact the Army Stop Loss Program Office. The claims website, https://www.stoplosspay.army.mil, uses an invalid security certificate, so all major browsers wont allow the user to continue. I e-mailed them at retrostoplosspay@conus.army.mil, and received no response. I called their office at 877-736-5554, and all options lead to a dead end. Even their voice mail box is full, so the system automatically disconnects the call. I mailed the claim form and a DD-214 to the program office in Falls Church, VA, and my letter was returned to sender. I finally faxed them the claim form and DD-214 and have an OK confirmation response to that, but doubt that was received. What's going on? I followed all instructions provided by the Department of the Army. What does a veteran do to get some claims service?
- Mike Traverso, Fall River, MA

8/21/2010 12:59:20 AM
So what about the people who volunteered to reenlist to fight the war on terror after 911. I was one of the first people to reenlist after 911 to help America win a war. If I would have tried to get out and was forced to stay in then I would be getting paid for trying to avoid the war. Something doesn't add up here. Am I am the only one who has realized this isn't right?
- Theodore Beebe, Hillside

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