By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 28, 2010 - Eligible service members and veterans have less than three months to apply for Retroactive "Stop Loss" Special Pay.
The special pay was approved by Congress as part of the 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act. Servicemembers and veterans who involuntarily served or were on "Stop Loss" from Sept. 11, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2009, are entitled to $500 for each month served past their contracted end-of-service, resignation or retirement date.
"This additional money, this benefit, was granted by Congress to recognize that continued service," Lernes "Bear" Hebert, acting director of the Defense Department's Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management office, said today in an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.
The Pentagon announced the program Oct. 21, 2009. Those eligible must apply by Oct. 21, 2010, to
receive compensation. And, survivors of servicemembers who were under 'Stop Loss' orders are entitled to the benefit.
The Defense Department wants to ensure everyone eligible for the special retroactive pay is compensated, Hebert said.
Each service has its own criteria and specific outreach and application process. Members and veterans who qualify, or think they are eligible for the special pay must contact their individual services for eligibility requirements.
Information about the program, procedures and points of contact for each individual service can be found at www.defense.gov/stoploss
So far $111 million has been paid out to 25,000 troops and veterans affected by 'Stop Loss,' Hebert said. The average payout is $3,000 to $4,000 per claim, he added.
The Pentagon has about $423 million left in the program's fund.
The Pentagon and individual services have been reaching out to qualified members, veterans and beneficiaries through direct mailings, veteran services organization, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the media. Those efforts will be ongoing through Oct. 21, 2010, as there is much money left to be claimed, Hebert said.
Initially there was a large response for claims under the program, Hebert said, but applications have since slowed down.
"Applications have tailed off," he said. "We suspect that some individuals are either engaged or busy or haven't taken the time to apply. Part of our continuing efforts is to remind them that they only have about three months left to get their application in."
An estimated 145,000 servicemembers, veterans and beneficiaries are entitled for the retroactive pay.