Today, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind along with U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, and Rep. Tom Petri, introduced the Fair Military Leave Act. This legislation will compensate soldiers for miscalculated leave time following their military deployment. Last year, Kohl introduced this legislation as an amendment to the Senate Defense Authorization bill.
"Close to 600 of our brave guardsmen and women, including 80 in Wisconsin, have been affected by this negligent miscalculation," said Rep. Kind. "These soldiers have spent time overseas defending our great nation -- some in multiple deployments - and have earned their leave benefits. I will do everything I can to make sure that they can make full use of these benefits.
"These troops served with honor and earned extra leave time after multiple or extended deployments overseas, but a miscalculation prevented them from using that leave. This legislation will correct the error by providing the option to cash out this unused leave time. It's the right thing to do," Kohl said.
Rep. Petri said, "Unfortunately, this situation affects Army National Guardsmen in Wisconsin more than in any other state. Clerical errors made during demobilization caused hundreds of soldiers to be wrongly denied their paid leave, and the errors were noticed well after they were eligible to use it. None of these troops decided not to take their earned vacation days, and the Fair Military Leave Act would not allow soldiers who are deploying in the future to exchange vacation days for cash, but instead, would only apply to those who have missed out on what is rightfully theirs. A mistake was made by the government and it's our responsibility to fix it."
In 2007, the Army began a program that offered additional paid leave for soldiers after they returned home from multiple or extended deployments overseas. The Army miscalculated the leave time for hundreds of soldiers including members of the Wisconsin National Guard's 1157th Transportation Company. The Army corrected the mistake on the soldiers' records, but will only allow them to use the unused leave after their next deployment. However, many of these soldiers have since left the military or will not be deployed again, making it impossible for them to use the leave they earned. The Fair Military Leave Act gives these troops the option of cashing out this unused leave.