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Stop-loss pay deadline extended to March 18

WASHINGTON – Troops, veterans and surviving spouses now have until March 18 to apply for retroactive stop-loss pay under a stop-gap funding measure signed by the president on Wednesday.

This is the fourth time that Congress has continued funding for the program as part of a temporary measure to keep funding the government at 2010 levels until lawmakers can agree on a fiscal 2011 budget.

The program is meant to compensate troops who were stop-lossed between September 2001 and September 2008. Current and former servicemembers or their surviving spouses can receive $500 for every month the servicemember was kept beyond his or her initial separation date.

Of the roughly 145,000 people believed to be eligible for the program, 78,294 have been paid, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Military officials said they have had a hard time finding veterans after they have left the service to inform them that they are eligible for the extra money.

U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, has been a prominent advocate of extending the deadline to give those eligible more time to apply.

 “I am pleased that our soldiers will have until March 18, 2011 to file for the stop loss compensation that they deserve for their extended service in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Sutton said in a statement on Thursday. “Our brave servicemen and women, and their families, need to know that we honor and respect their dedication and sacrifices to protect us and our country.”

To apply, go to: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_stoploss/

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