Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) praised yesterday's passage of the 21st Century Servicemembers Protection Act, included in the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 (HR 3219), to protect deploying servicemembers from fines incurred if they have to break cell phone contracts early or need to reconnect their service upon return.
"The last thing our troops should have to deal with as they prepare to deploy overseas and fight for our country is haggling with their cell phone company about early termination fees or be worried about coming home to a pile of unpaid bills," said Murphy, an Iraq war veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad from 2003 to 2004.
The 21st Century Servicemembers Protection Act addresses problems with telecommunications companies that troops may experience when leaving for or returning from overseas deployments. Servicemembers frequently have trouble suspending or breaking their contracts, even if they present deployment orders. Murphy's provisions in H.R. 3219 expand the existing Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to allow troops with deployment orders to terminate their contracts without fee or penalty. It also provides troops the opportunity to reconnect these services hassle-free when they return home.
Murphy said that he decided to introduce the legislation after hearing countless stories of veterans returning home from overseas deployments only to spend hours fighting through red tape.
The 21st Century Servicemembers Protection Act has been endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), the Reserve Officers Association (ROA), the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).