By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2010 - President Barack Obama signed legislation yesterday extending the Retroactive Stop-Loss Special Pay deadline through December 3, DOD officials said today.
Officials estimate about 80,000 eligible service members, veterans and beneficiaries have yet to apply for the special stop-loss pay.
"It's important that all those eligible for this benefit take the opportunity to apply for what they've earned," said Lernes Hebert, the Defense Department's acting director of officer and enlisted personnel management. "We encourage those eligible to apply as soon as possible, to avoid the last-minute rush, which can increase processing time."
The program was due to run out Oct. 21, 2010. The extension is part of the continuing resolution that funds federal government operations. Congress has not yet passed authorization or appropriations bills for fiscal 2011.
The program affects military members whose service was involuntarily extended under stop-loss between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries are required to submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a stop-loss status. The original deadline for claims was Oct. 21, 2010.
Stop-loss allows the military to extend servicemembers beyond their end-of-term of service dates. The program has been used extensively since 9-11 to maintain personnel strength in deploying units. The program allows the military to extend servicemembers whose end-of-term of service, retirement or end-of-service obligation date falls during a deployment. They may be involuntarily extended until the end of their unit's deployment. The Army and Marine Corps used the policy the most.
The special pay is meant to remunerate the servicemembers for their sacrifices. When the program began last year, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible. Most had already separated from the services.
The services have sent direct mail to those eligible under the program. The military has engaged with military and veteran service organizations. The services also here reached out via social networks and media outlets.
Last month President Obama reached out to veterans in a video posted to the White House Web site encouraging those who are eligible to apply for the benefit.
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