|By Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden, American Forces
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Eligible servicemembers 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 in an interview with American Forces Press Service and the
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
“We only have three months left for individuals to apply for this
benefit,” he said. “It’s time to (apply) and get their application in.
Notify anyone you’ve served with, even if they have separated, even
Family members of separated folks to apply.”
Each service has its own criteria and specific outreach and application
Members and veterans who qualify, or think they are eligible for the
special pay must contact their individual services for eligibility
Information about the program, procedures and points of contact for each
individual service can be found at
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.
“Congress authorized a fairly generous number, so we’re not concerned
about the money running out,” Hebert said. “We are concerned about
individuals getting their applications in.”
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. “Still, Hebert said he expects a surge of claims as the deadline
nears. He urges those who are eligible for the retroactive pay to take
advantage of it now.
“Congress authorized this for a one-year period,” he said, noting it
would require Congress to pass a new law in order to extend the program.
“This is firm, so individuals out there who think they might be entitled
to this benefit need to get their application in.”
An estimated 145,000 servicemembers, veterans and beneficiaries are
entitled to the retroactive pay. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates
maintains the authority to extend military service during a period of
national emergency, an authority that dates back to 1983.
Many of these “Stop Loss” troops were extended involuntarily in order
for their units to preserve manpower and readiness in critical skill
areas, Hebert said.
“The department uses it sparingly and only when it’s absolutely
necessary,” he said. “It’s contrary to the way we operate the
all-volunteer force, but it’s necessary in times when you have very high
demands ... where you don’t have a significant number of individuals
with particular skills that you might need during a national emergency.”
“It allows the department a bit of breathing room in order to
re-establish additional personnel in those specialties,” he added.
The Army is the only service with currently-serving troops affected by
the “Stop Loss” authority. But the Army is on track to have all
involuntary service ended by March next year, Hebert said.
“(Stop Loss’) is a mechanism of last resort for maintaining forces
during a national emergency, so while the authority for ‘Stop Loss’ will
still exist, the secretary has made it very clear ... he wants the
services not to use ‘Stop Loss’ at the current time,” he said.