In the News: Joe gets the word out about help to soldiers
The Norwich Bulletin covers Joe’s work to make sure that soldiers and veterans who were “stop-lossed” – involuntarily deployed in combat longer than scheduled – know about an important program that compensates them for their extended duty. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Joe helped pass legislation to provide stop-lossed soldiers with additional pay to reduce the burden they and their families felt during their extended tours.
Veterans organizations are trying to get the word out to soldiers whose duty was involuntarily extended that they may be eligible for additional pay.
A plan was approved by Congress last year to provide up to $500 per month of bonus pay to troops whose time was involuntarily continued after Sept. 11, 2001.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said about 145,000 people are eligible for the bonus money, but many have not applied for it. The deadline is Oct. 21.
One of the biggest challenges with the program is that many eligible veterans and soldier might not know that this assistance is availible:
Ronald Rusko Rusakiewicz, adjutant of Veterans of Foreign Wars Connecticut, said veterans may not know about the program.
“I think the only reason they’re not applying for it is they don’t understand it’s available,” he said. The program is also referred to as “stop loss pay.” Stop loss refers to a military requirement that soldiers remain on active duty beyond their scheduled discharge date.
Michael McVicker, who retired from the Army National Guard and served in Iraq, said he was not stop lossed, but he knows others who were.
McVicker, of Oakdale, said soldiers with extended tours had to deal with a range of issues, from breaking leases to handling college and family commitments.
“I think it’s good that they’re trying to do something a little bit extra for those soldiers who were stop lossed, because they made plans for their lives,” he said.
McVicker said there shouldn’t be an application deadline; if soldiers are eligible for benefits, they should receive them.