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Congress has once again extended the deadline for the retroactive-stop-loss pay program, which had been set to expire on Friday but now runs through Dec. 18.

This is the second time that Congress has extended the deadline for the program, which offers troops who were stop-lossed since Sept. 11, 2001, or their surviving spouses $500 for each month that the servicemember was held beyond his or her initial separation date.

The program was originally set to expire in October, but it was extended to provide more time to apply. The services have had problems tracking down those who have left the service.

Of the roughly 145,000 people eligible for compensation, about 69,000 have been paid, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

That breaks down to:

ARMY: 61,250NAVY: 252AIR FORCE: 4,342MARINES: 3,152“These guys go to college and get jobs and it is really hard to track them down, so quite often we actually contact their parents based on the last best address,” Army Maj. Roy Whitley, who is in charge of the Army’s compensation program, said in July . “It’s not that they don’t want to be found, it’s just that they are literally suspicious that the Army ... is coming out to pay them money.”

In September, President Obama delivered a video address to veterans, assuring them that the pay program was not a “gimmick or scam” or a way to lure them back onto active duty.

“You served with honor,” Obama said. “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.”

To apply online, go to:

http://www.defense.gov/stoploss

jeffrey.schogol@stripes.osd.mil

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