NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007 -- (Senate - June 22, 2006)
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Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I wish to speak about an amendment I offered to the 2007 Defense authorization bill that would be very beneficial to the members of our Reserve Component. The amendment would award them 15 days of paid leave at the end of their deployment, provided they have been deployed more than 6 months and have been deployed in a combat zone. The members of the Reserves and National Guard face a different situation and different challenges when they return from combat than do those on active duty because they return to civilian life and civilian jobs almost immediately. In many cases I believe it happens too soon, primarily for financial reasons.
The need to return to their jobs as soon as possible means Reservists and Guardsmen have little or no time to make what can be a difficult adjustment. Combat experiences may never be forgotten, especially by those who are not professional soldiers, but a chance to begin to do so, to talk to people if that seems appropriate, would be very helpful. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very real disability. We must do whatever we can to help our citizen soldiers avoid it. And to help those who get it despite our efforts.
The experiences of our combat soldiers are stressful at best, debilitating at worst. I believe 2 weeks to readjust, to spend time with their families, and to make whatever preparations are necessary would be tremendously helpful and very well deserved. These men and women have left their families and their jobs to serve our country overseas for extended periods at great personal sacrifice. Two weeks of paid leave would relieve the financial pressure to return to work immediately. I believe not only the soldiers would benefit, but so would the employers and coworkers. They would at long last regain an employee who has had time to adjust and is ready to become a productive worker again. So the benefits would not go solely to the soldiers and their families.
This is an important amendment, one that would help soldiers, their families, and their communities around the nation. I believe it deserves to be included in the Defense authorization bill, and I ask my colleagues for their support.
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