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Our Stop-Lossed Troops Deserve Their Overtime

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In March 2004, Sgt. Mike Krause returned home from two back-to-back tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. With his Army contract set to expire in less than a year, Krause could begin to plan his future, starting with earning his college degree. But after just three months at home with their families, Krause and almost 40 members of his unit were stop-lossed. By October 2004, Krause was back in Iraq for a second year-long deployment. In just three years, he spent a total of 30 months in combat.

Since 2001, more than 170,000 troops like Sgt. Krause have been held past their enlistment contracts under the military’s “stop-loss” policy.  But it’s not just our servicemembers who have suffered. Their families have also had their reunions delayed, their lives disrupted, and their futures stalled.

In March, the Pentagon announced it would begin compensating these servicemembers for their overtime. But unless Congress acts today, thousands of veterans who were stop-lossed before October 2008, like Sgt. Krause, won’t see a dime in back-pay.

In no other profession would an employee work overtime and not be compensated, and the same must be true of our military. Given all of the sacrifices that our troops and their families have made, these payments are long past due.

In the next 48 hours, Congress is deliberating the fate of a critical provision that would close this gap and provide an average of $5,000 in retroactive payments to troops who have been stop-lossed.  Our veterans are counting on Congress to bring it to the President’s desk -- you can help make sure that happens.

The House and Senate are meeting to work out their differences on the 2009 war supplemental spending bill; currently only the House version includes the retroactive stop-loss payments. The vote on the bill will be happening in the next few days. If the Senate feels the pressure, the provision will be protected. And that will mean a huge impact on the lives of our troops.  

Now, more than ever, our servicemembers are relying on our lawmakers to do the right thing.  Call your Senators today, and let them know that you support retroactive payments for our stop-lossed troops. Our nation’s heroes deserve their overtime.

Crossposted at www.IAVA.org.

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UPDATE:

We just learned that Congress has delayed this vote until next week. The vote was expected to be today, but as everything in Washington, bi-partisan bickering over unrelated issues has brought this important provision to a standstill.

Please help keep the pressure on by calling your Senators, and telling them you support overtime payments for our nation’s heroes.  Your calls have already made a huge impact!