Most of us have a friend or a loved one who was in the armed services on that tragic day when the Pentagon and the World Trade Center was attacked. In the days, months, and years after, thousands of men and women were asked to stay on active duty beyond their original discharge date to defend our country and serve in the Afghan and Iraq War effort.
From Sept. 11, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2009, the Department of Defense invoked a provision referred to as “stop loss” to maintain adequate troop levels. Approximately 145,000 service members were involuntarily kept on active duty beyond their original discharge date. The military first invoked the “stop loss” program in 1990 in preparation for the Persian Gulf War, but expanded it during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In June, Congress set aside $534 million in retroactive pay for these “stop loss” service members, which comes out to $500 per service member per month of service.
As of today, more than 90,000 eligible veterans, active duty, guard, and reserve troops haven’t claimed their back pay. Time is running out; the deadline, which had been extended once already, is December 3.
If you or someone you know is eligible for this compensation, go to the Defense Department’s website at www.defense.gov/stoploss and fill out an application.
Our brave men and women in uniform have served this country with honor. In some cases their service was extended long past the date they expected to be home safely with their families. With the holidays fast approaching, now is a perfect time to show your appreciation for their military service. Spreading the word about the stop loss compensation program is a great way to say “thanks” and help ensure that every eligible service member has the opportunity to claim the back pay they have earned and deserve.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.