USA — March 4 is Final Day to Claim ‘Stop Loss’ Pay

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2011 — Peo­ple whose mil­i­tary ser­vice was invol­un­tar­i­ly extend­ed or whose retire­ment was sus­pend­ed between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, have until March 4 to file for retroac­tive pay­ments of $500 for each month of their extend­ed ser­vice under the “Stop Loss” pol­i­cy.

The dead­line ends the sec­ond exten­sion for eli­gi­ble peo­ple to apply to receive the retroac­tive pay.

“This is a time­ly pay­ment for ser­vices already ren­dered,” said Lernes “Bear” Hebert, the Defense Department’s direc­tor of offi­cer and enlist­ed per­son­nel man­age­ment. “It’s a no-strings-attached pro­gram — one where they fill out a sim­ple form and attach a few doc­u­ments [to show] their ser­vice.”

Each ser­vice branch will work with poten­tial appli­cants to deter­mine eli­gi­bil­i­ty, he added.

The pro­gram also applies to ben­e­fi­cia­ries who lost loved ones in the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice dur­ing their ser­vice, Hebert said.

Apply­ing through the Inter­net or by mail is easy, and usu­al­ly takes less than 30 min­utes, Hebert said, adding that once eli­gi­bil­i­ty is estab­lished, the mon­ey “just shows up in your bank account.”

“There’s noth­ing more to it,” he said. “You prob­a­bly won’t hear from the mil­i­tary again unless you ini­ti­ate con­tact.”

Appli­ca­tions sent via com­put­er or post­marked by March 4 for deliv­ery by mail will have met the dead­line, Hebert said.

“This unique pro­gram for Stop Loss spe­cial pay is to rec­og­nize ser­vice­men and women and the sac­ri­fices they made to their coun­try with­out hes­i­ta­tion,” Hebert said. An esti­mat­ed 145,000 peo­ple are eli­gi­ble for the spe­cial pay, Defense Depart­ment offi­cials said, not­ing that 77,000 claims have been paid. Oth­er appli­ca­tions are being processed, and offi­cials strong­ly rec­om­mend that all poten­tial appli­cants apply before the March 4 dead­line, even those who received a bonus for vol­un­tar­i­ly re-enlist­ing and those who think they’re not eli­gi­ble because they extend­ed their ser­vice.

“The pro­gram is to make sure ser­vice mem­bers receive the recog­ni­tion that the nation appre­ci­ates their ser­vice, and for serv­ing beyond their ini­tial con­tract,” Hebert said. An out­pour­ing of sup­port for ser­vice mem­bers to receive mon­ey they’re due has come from the gov­ern­ment and the com­mu­ni­ty — from Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and oth­er senior mil­i­tary lead­ers, to vet­er­ans orga­ni­za­tions and oth­ers try­ing to reach those who like­ly are eli­gi­ble, Hebert said. “The ser­vices have done a tremen­dous job at get­ting the word out,” he said.

“In all my years of ser­vice, I’ve nev­er seen a pro­gram in both the gov­ern­ment and [vet­er­ans ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion] com­mu­ni­ties that’s been such a tremen­dous effort,” Hebert said, adding that he has received many notes of grat­i­tude from those who’ve received their Stop Loss pay.

Hebert asks ser­vice mem­bers to spread the word to oth­ers who have served, and ben­e­fi­cia­ries, to make sure no one is left out before the March 4 dead­line. “We don’t want peo­ple to wake up March 5 and decide that’s the day they plan to apply,” he said.

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

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