The Department of Defense today told U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that the 23 surviving members of the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG) whose military pensions were reduced by a Pentagon policy change last January should see their full pension payments resumed by the end of December.
The announcement came after Sen. Murkowski prodded the Pentagon to expeditiously implement language in the National Defense Authorization Act which directs the military to count service in the ATG during World War II toward military retirement. Although the new law came into effect on October 28, 2009, the Pentagon explained that it needed time to complete a legal review before restoring the pension payments. The December check will include a lump sum payment retroactive to October 28.
"This time last year we were taken aback by rumors that the Defense Department was going to change its position on whether ATG service during World War II counted toward military retirement," Murkowski said. "In January, hours after the new administration took office, we found out sadly that it was true. The Alaska congressional delegation, the Governor and the Legislature all worked together to ensure that members of the ATG didn't fall through the cracks.
"The state came through with interim payments to make sure that no ATG member lost money, and the congressional delegation was relentless in keeping this issue in the forefront despite opposition from the Obama administration. We are especially grateful to the veterans across the country who read about the plight of our ATG members on the Internet and called to register their support."
Murkowski noted that there are some former ATG members who are still awaiting federal acknowledgement of their service in World War II while others who may be eligible for federal acknowledgement have not applied. The Senator pledged to work with the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department to ensure that every remaining ATG member receives all of the federal benefits to which he or she is entitled.