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Lautenberg Introduces Legislation To Compensate Soldiers Forced Into Extended Military Service
For Troops Who Are "Stop-Lossed," NJ Sen's Bill Would Provide Monthly Bonus, Help Service Members Support Their Families
Lautenberg Press Office (202) 224-4858
Friday, May 23,
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced a bill to provide a monthly bonus to troops affected by “stop loss,” a Pentagon policy that involuntarily extends military service beyond an enlistment contract. The bill would require the Pentagon to pay $1,500 to each service member for each month he or she is kept beyond the end of their enlistment period.
“After months and years of risking their lives, our troops are too often being told they cannot return home to their families when they were scheduled,” Senator Lautenberg said. “The military made a deal with our men and women in uniform—and if our troops are forced to serve and sacrifice longer than that commitment, that sacrifice should be rewarded.”
Lautenberg’s legislation, the Stop Loss Compensation Act of 2008, applies both to service members who are forced to continue service after their enlistment is up and after their eligibility for retirement has been extended. This bill would also include a provision that would be retroactive to October 2001 to compensate any service member who has been stop-lossed since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senator’s legislation is cosponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Casey (D-PA), and is supported by leading veterans and military service organizations.
Senator Menendez said: “Times are extra tough for our troops and their families, who have to deal with extended deployments in a warzone overseas and a tanking economy here at home. The least we can do for them is give them some extra assistance to help them cope. Many in Washington often talk about supporting the troops, and they can back up those words by signing on to legislation like this.”
“Our brave men and women have already made the commitment to sacrifice time away from their families, we should honor our commitments to them,” said Senator Casey. “We can’t underestimate the burden on families caused by having a loved one on extended tours of duty. Nothing can replace having a father, mother or spouse back home, but this legislation will provide a measure of financial support.”
“Of all the abuses borne by our service members since the beginning of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, excessive reliance on stop-loss is one of the most egregious. Involuntary service negates the promise of our all-volunteer military. By forcing tens of thousands of troops to stay in the military, we have broken the contract that our service members willing entered into with their country. Senator Lautenberg's bill is an important step toward recognizing the incredible sacrifice that stop-loss creates,” Bobby Muller, President of Veterans for America, said.
“Since early 2003, over 600,000 Guard and reserve members have fulfilled the ideal of citizen-soldier, leaving their civilian jobs and educational pursuits to take up arms to defend the country they love. Several thousand of them have been involuntarily retained beyond their normal term of service to continue to serve their country. In many cases these great Americans have monetary strains and a bonus such as this will not only help them financially, but will send a strong message that their service is valued,” Michael Cline, Executive Director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, said.
“This bill will ensure that those members of the uniformed services that have been involuntary extended beyond their contracts are properly compensated and will act as an effective deterrent against the abuse of the stop loss policy,” Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said.
The Army’s stop loss policy can keep a soldier in service if his or her unit deploys within 90 days of the end of the soldier’s commitment. However, soldiers are not currently compensated for that extra commitment. On average, soldiers affected by stop loss now serve an extra 6.6 months.
Between May 2007 and March 2008, the number of soldiers forced to remain in the Army increased to 12,235. And currently 3,879 Guard soldiers are affected by stop loss, which is the largest group of Guardsmen affected by the policy since November 2004. In total, 58,300 soldiers have been affected by stop loss since 2002, according to the Army, including active duty, Reserve and National Guard troops.
A fact sheet on the Senator’s legislation is attached.
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Fact Sheet On Senator Lautenberg's Stop Loss Compensation Act of 2008
Over the past 6 years, tens of thousands of military personnel have had their service duty involuntarily extended beyond their contract because of a stop loss order. Senator Lautenberg is introducing legislation to compensate these service members for the additional hardships they have faced during their extended deployments.
Background on the Army’s Acceleration of Stop Loss
In January 2007, Secretary Gates directed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service secretaries to minimize mandatory tour extensions, known as “stop loss.” The Army’s Stop loss policy can keep a soldier in service if his or her unit deploys within 90 days of the end of the soldier’s commitment. The Army says this is necessary to maintain the integrity of units headed to war.
Over the past year, the number of soldiers required to involuntarily remain in the Army resulting from stop loss orders rose 43 percent. Between May 2007 and March 2008, the number of soldiers forced to remain in the Army rose to 12,235. Currently, 3,879 Guard soldiers are affected by stop loss; they make up the largest group of Guardsmen affected by the policy since November 2004.
In all, 58,300 soldiers have been affected by stop loss since 2002, according to the Army, or 1 percent of active duty, Reserve and National Guard troops. On average, soldiers affected by stop loss now serve an extra 6.6 months.
Senator Lautenberg’s Stop Loss Bill
Currently, there is no mandatory monetary compensation for troops affected by stop loss. This Senator’s legislation requires the Pentagon to compensate any member of the uniformed services entitled to basic pay whose enlistment or period of obligated service is extended or whose eligibility for retirement is extended because of a stop loss order. The bill instructs the Pentagon to pay $1,500 a month to each service member for each month he or she is kept beyond the end of their enlistment period.
This legislation is retroactive to October 2001 so that any member of the Armed Services caught in the Stop Loss gap since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be compensated.
Extended and Repeated Deployments Takes Their Toll On Our Troops and Military Families
- Suicide rates are up, with the Pentagon reporting that some 20 percent more troops committed suicide in 2007 than in 2006.
- Divorce rates, which have been escalating since 2003, remain at about 3.3 percent, up from 2.9 percent before the start of the war.
- Incidences of combat stress are soaring, with a new independent study finding that as many as 1 in 5 service members are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, a reality that deeply affects the families they return to.
- Numerous Army officials are beginning to study whether there are correlations between deployments and domestic assaults, sexual assaults and alcohol offenses.
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