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Friday, October 8, 2010

Stop Loss extension

Congress approved an extension for veterans affected by Stop Loss to claim their benefits.

The new deadline is Dec. 3, 2010.

For more information, click here.

Here's the story I wrote in August on the issue:

Service members and veterans who were on "stop loss" from Sept. 11, 2001, to Sept. 20, 2009, are eligible for extra money. The problem is the Department of Defense is having a hard time finding them.

Stop loss refers to service members who were kept on active duty beyond their contract to the military, typically because of shortages or needs in certain career fields.

The defense department estimates that 145,000 service members and veterans nationwide are eligible for the benefit. More than $111 million has been paid to 25,000 troops and the Pentagon has about $423 million left in the program's fund, according to DoD figures.

Congress approved the $500 per-month-served special payment when it passed the end of service dates as part of the 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act.

But, the law only allows the department to accept applications for the benefit between October 2009 and this October. There are no authorizations in the law to make payments after the deadline.

The average payout is $3,000 to $4,000, according to DoD figures. Each of the services has been reaching out to its members but finding all those eligible for the retroactive pay is proving to be a challenge, said Sam Retherford in a Department of Defense news release. He's the director for the DoD officer and enlisted personnel management office.

"Getting the word out is our No. 1 challenge," he said in the news release. "Many are former members. Many have no obligation to the military anymore and are scattered across the world right now. Getting the word out for people to solicit the claim is our first challenge."

More than 420,000 veterans are living in Alabama. Thousands have deployed or been activated with the National Guard and Reserves since Sept. 11, 2001.

To apply for the retroactive payment, service members must have been honorably discharged and have documentation to prove they were affected by stop loss. Those who served under stop loss but later decided to extend their commitment or re-enlist are also eligible for the benefit.

Documents that will be used to determine eligibility include a certificate of discharge, separation orders, retirement orders, memos from previous commanders or organizations.

Retherford encourages service members to apply even if they don't have all the documentation because the service may have the documents to fill in the holes.

Stop Loss has been used by the military since 1983 in cases of national emergency, according to the department.

FIND OUT MORE

Here's where to get information from each service:

Army: www.stoplosspay.army.mil or e-mail to RetroStopLossPay@conus.army.mil

Navy: E-mail to NXAG_N132C@navy.mil

Air Force: www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/stoploss/

Marine Corps: www.manpower.usmc.mil/stoploss or e-mail to stoploss@usmc.mil


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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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