Service members who were involuntarily extended through “stop loss” now have another chance to apply for compensation.
The Department of Defense has extended the deadline for the Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay Program to Oct 21, 2012. Service members, veterans and beneficiaries of service members who endured stop loss are eligible for $500 a month for each month they were not allowed to separate. The average benefit is about $3,700, according to the Defense Department.
Stop loss was regularly used by all of military branches from Sept. 11, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. While stop loss was widespread, it usually didn’t last more than a few months. The longest a soldier could be put on stop loss orders was 21 months, 15 of which were spent deployed with a 90 day window before and after. Defense Department officials claim that it was rare for a soldier to be held that long.
The Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay Program was created in 2009 to compensate service members for the hardships caused by involuntary extension. The Defense Department estimated 145,000 service members would be eligible for this benefit. The original cutoff date for applying was Oct. 21, 2010, but Congress has repeatedly extended this deadline. Thousands of soldiers who experienced stop loss separated from the military prior to the program’s implementation, and there is concern that many are still unaware of it.
“Even with extensive outreach efforts and tremendous support from the president, Congress, the VA, veteran and military service organizations and friends and family around the world, some qualified individuals have not yet applied,” Juliet Beyler, acting director of the Defense Department’s Office and Enlisted Personnel Management, said in a news release. “We highly encourage anyone who may be eligible to apply for this pay. You have earned it.”
The biggest hurdle service members are likely to face is gathering and submitting the proper documentation. For more information on specific requirements and resources available to help, go to the Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay Program website.
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