UPDATED OCT. 21, 4:53 P.M. EDT
WASHINGTON -- After being extended several times by Congress, the Retroactive Stop-Loss Pay program will finally stop accepting applications at midnight on Friday.
Eligible troops, veterans and surviving spouses can receive $500 for every month servicemembers were kept beyond their initial separation date.
The program was originally slated to end in 2010, but Congress included the program as part of a series of spending measures to continue funding the government through fiscal 2011. Friday marks the final deadline.
Although the deadline is midnight, funding for the program will continue into November, so those who apply on Friday will still get paid, said Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez.
"This is why we encourage those who think they may be eligible to APPLY TODAY -- as long as the application is dated today, the services can work with them to gather needed paperwork and then deliver the payment," Lainez said in an email.
Of the 145,000 troops, veterans and surviving spouses eligible for the compensation, 96,699 have been paid as of Oct. 21, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
DFAS provided the following breakdown of claims paid by service:
• Army: 82,674
• Air Force: 8,579
• Marine Corps: 5,081
• Navy: 365
Congress had extended the program several times to give people more time to apply, but the services had difficulty reaching those who had been stop-lossed, especially troops who had left the military.
The Defense Department attempted a number of ways to reach out to troops and veterans who had been stop-lossed, and in September 2010 President Barack Obama recorded a public service announcement urging those eligible to apply.
“You served with honor,” Obama said at the time. “You did your duty. And when you’re country called on you again, you did your duty again. Now it’s time to collect that special pay that you deserve.”