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Letter to the Honorable Barack Obama, the President of the United States and to the Honorable Gates, the Secretary of Defense

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Clifton Park, NY

Today, Congressman Scott Murphy sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary Gates calling on them to step up their efforts to inform all veterans and military personnel who are eligible to receive payment under Congress' enacted Retroactive Stop loss Special Pay (RSLSP) program. Of the 185,000 military personnel who are eligible, only 30,000 have applied. Many of those eligible for stop loss payments have never been informed that this program is available to them.

"Many of the men and women eligible for stop loss payments have never even been told that they are available. This situation is completely unacceptable. The debt we owe to these brave men and women may never be repaid, but we must ensure that they receive the full benefits to which they are entitled -- it's the very least we can do," said Rep. Murphy. "I am demanding that the Defense Department increase their efforts and present Congress with a new and better strategy to ensure our military personnel know that this program is here for them."

Under the 2009 War Supplemental Appropriation Act, Congress provided the Department of Defense funds to establish a RSLSP program to provide $500 for each month or partial month served in the stop loss status. This program was designed for service members, veterans, and beneficiaries of service members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009. Under Department of Defense's own directive, to receive these funds, which average $3,700 per claim, those service members are required to submit claim forms establishing their eligibility. In the letter, Murphy called on the Department of Defense (DoD) to brief him on their outreach efforts in the RSLSP program, and do a better job of reaching out to Upstate New York veterans and active military personnel affected by stop loss orders.

Murphy also announced his intention to co-sponsor to H.R. 5449, bipartisan legislation to extend the application deadline by 12 months for service members and veterans to file a claim for stop loss retroactive pay. The bill would also require DOD, as part of their implementation report to Congress, to include a plan and execution timeline to promote and increase awareness of the availability of stop loss retroactive pay. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Sutton (OH-13), currently has 19 bipartisan co-sponsors. This legislation is necessary to extend the deadline to allow more military personnel to apply for the pay that they are due.

Congressman Murphy has made fighting for veterans a priority during his first year in office. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he has fought to get our men and women in the armed services the resources they need to do their jobs safely and successfully. Murphy has also worked with "Blue Water Navy" veterans across the country to get them the disability benefits they deserve due to injuries caused by exposure to Agent Orange.


Below is the letter Murphy sent to President Obama and Secretary Gates:

August 9, 2010

Mr. President,

I am writing regarding recent reports that of the 185,000 military personnel who are eligible to receive payment under Congress' enacted Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) program, only 30,000 have applied.

Under the 2009 War Supplemental Appropriation Act, Congress provided the Department of Defense funds to establish a RSLSP program to provide $500 for each month or partial month served in the stop loss status. This program was designed for service members, veterans, and beneficiaries of service members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009. Under Department of Defense's own directive, to receive these funds, which average $3,700 per claim, those service members are required to submit claim forms establishing their eligibility.

In recent communications with the Department of Defense, the Department has cited its inability to locate and communicate with service members about their eligibility for the RSLSP program. I find it troubling that the most technologically advanced nation and military in the world is unable to communicate with those men and woman who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms. I respectfully request a report on the Department's outreach efforts, as well as its efforts to remedy the situation so that we can live up to our obligations and provide those eligible the long overdue pay they rightly deserve.

While the debt we owe to these brave men and women may never be repaid, ensuring that they receive the full benefits to which they are entitled, is the very least we can do.

Sincerely,

Scott Murphy
Member of Congress

Background on Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) Program:

What is Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP)?

Service Members, veterans, and beneficiaries of service members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2008 are eligible for RSLSP. The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act stipulates those eligible for the special pay will receive $500 for each month or partial month served in stop loss status. To receive this benefit, those who served under stop loss must submit a claim for the special pay.

Who is Eligible for RSLSP?

Service Members, including members of the Reserve Components, former, and retired members who served on Active Duty while their enlistment or period of obligated service was extended, or whose eligibility for retirement was suspended from one of the following:

* Contractual Expiration of Term of Service (ETS), Expiration of Active Service (EAS), or Reserve End of Current Contract (RECC); or
* An approved separation date based on an unqualified resignation request or Release From Active Duty (REFRAD) order; or
* An approved retirement based on length of service.


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