Obama Reaches Out to Veterans: ‘You Earned It’

WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma wants to make sure vet­er­ans and cur­rent ser­vice­mem­bers who were invol­un­tar­i­ly retained in the mil­i­tary under the so-called “Stop Loss” pro­gram get the retroac­tive pay they deserve.

“You served with hon­or. You did your duty. And when your coun­try called on you again, you did your duty again. Now, it’s time to col­lect the spe­cial pay that you deserve,” Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma said in a pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment released by the White House today.

Mil­i­tary mem­bers whose ser­vice was invol­un­tar­i­ly extend­ed or whose retire­ment was sus­pend­ed between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, are enti­tled to a retroac­tive pay­ment of $500 for each month of exten­sion. The appli­ca­tion dead­line is Oct. 21. Infor­ma­tion on the spe­cial pay and links to the appli­ca­tion are avail­able at http://www.defense.gov/stoploss.

About 58,000 of 145,000 eli­gi­ble claims have been paid, and $219 mil­lion has been dis­bursed of the $534 mil­lion appro­pri­at­ed, Defense Depart­ment offi­cials said.

While tens of thou­sands of vet­er­ans already have received retroac­tive pay aver­ag­ing near­ly $4,000 each, the pres­i­dent said many oth­ers may be reluc­tant to apply.

“I know there’s been some con­fu­sion and skep­ti­cism out there,” he said. “Some vet­er­ans think this is some sort of gim­mick or scam, or that it’s a way for the gov­ern­ment to call you back to ser­vice. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.

“As your com­man­der in chief,” Oba­ma con­tin­ued, “I’m here to tell you that this is no gim­mick or trick. You worked hard. You earned this mon­ey. It doesn’t mat­ter whether you were active or reserve, whether you’re a vet­er­an who expe­ri­enced ‘Stop Loss’ or the sur­vivor of a ser­vice­mem­ber who did — if your ser­vice was extend­ed, you’re eli­gi­ble.”

The mil­i­tary ser­vices are pro­mot­ing the retroac­tive pay through direct mail, vet­er­an and ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions, web­sites, phone lines, print and broad­cast media. The president’s mes­sage under­scores the effort to spread the word.

“Share this video among your fel­low vet­er­ans,” the pres­i­dent urged. “Help us get our ‘Stop Loss’ vet­er­ans the pay to which they’re enti­tled. Help us make sure that Amer­i­ca is serv­ing our vet­er­ans and your fam­i­lies as well as you’ve served us.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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