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Mr. PETRI. Mr. Chair, I urge my colleagues to join me and Representative KIND in correcting a government error and ending bureaucratic impediments that are keeping soldiers from receiving their earned benefits.
Quite simply, the Petri-Kind amendment, which is included in this en bloc amendment, would pay approximately 575 National Guardsmen for the vacation days they earned through the Post Deployment Mobilization Respite Absence program that they were unable to take after their last deployment due to government error. Some have not been reimbursed for as long as five years.
The problem occurred when the Defense Department did not issue the guidelines for calculating this benefit until several months after it went into effect. Some soldiers demobilizing during this time did not have these additional days added to their leave. Many of them have since retired or are not deploying again and are unable to use their earned vacation days.
This effort is a national problem, affecting Army National Guardsmen in 34 states. Unfortunately, soldiers in Wisconsin are affected more than those in any other state with 80 Wisconsin Army National Guardsmen impacted, most of whom are members of the 1157th Transportation Company based in Oshkosh. As I speak, this unit is once again serving overseas after deploying to Afghanistan just last month. I thank the entire Wisconsin delegation for their support of this amendment, as well as the National Guard Association of the United States.
This amendment is similar to Representative KLINE's bill, H.R. 4045, which passed by voice vote in the House Tuesday night to pay a much larger group of soldiers who also did not receive the pay they were promised.
Mr. Chair, we have a moral obligation to ensure that our men and women serving in the military receive the benefits they are due. I appreciate the support give to this amendment by the House Armed Services Committee and urge it's passing by the entire House.
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