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ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. troops have until Oct. 3 to file claims for protective gear they had to buy, such as body armor, the Army announced Tuesday.

The Defense Department was still trying to determine how many servicemembers are eligible for reimbursement by Stars and Stripes’ deadline Thursday.

Servicemembers are eligible for up to $1,100 of reimbursement per item for buying protective gear if they did not receive equivalent protection from their unit and they deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Noble Eagle.

In June 2004, Congress authorized funding to pay back servicemembers who had bought their own gear after reports that troops, especially in the National Guard, were paying between $300 and $1,000 for body armor.

In October 2005, the Defense Department issued guidelines for how servicemembers can be reimbursed for items to include: Outer Tactical Vests, side plates, throat and groin protectors, knee pads, ballistic glasses and inspect repellant.

Information on the program is available at: www.jagcnet.army.mil.

Currently, more than 95 percent of the roughly 140 soldiers who have applied for reimbursement have had their claims approved, said Maj. Paul Cucuzzella, of the U.S. Army Claims Service at Fort Meade, Md.

For the Marine Corps, fewer than a dozen Marines have been approved for reimbursement for protective gear, said Marine spokesman Capt. Jay Delarosa.

The number of Marines who have applied for reimbursement was unavailable on Thursday, Delarosa said.

“The Marines are getting exactly what they need for the mission from our supply system,” Delarosa said. “And the Marines, before they deploy, small unit leaders, it’s up to them to make sure they have the right equipment, and they’ve been doing a great job of it.”

Cucuzzella said the number of soldiers who have submitted claims has dropped since the beginning of the year, prompting the Army to put out a reminder to soldiers that the cut-off date is coming.

Those troops who are reimbursed are required to turn the gear they purchased over to Defense Department officials, unless the items are destroyed or otherwise unusable.

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