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WASHINGTON — Active-duty troops would be guaranteed at least one month home for every month deployed under a bill reintroduced in the House on Thursday.

Reservists would get at least three months home for every month on active duty, according to bill sponsor Rep. Elaine Tauscher, D-Calif. The goal, she said, is to make sure all troops get time between extended deployments to retrain, relax and reconnect with their families.

Similar legislation passed the House last year but fell short in the Senate. Republican opponents in both chambers argued that measure overstepped Congressional responsibilities by placing restrictions on when and for how long the president can deploy troops.

But Tauscher said she believes Congress does have a right to set basic standards of living for servicemembers, and too-frequent deployments hurt morale and operational readiness.

"The rapid pace of multiple deployments has put strain on our troops and on the military," she said.

"More soldiers died by suicide in January than on the battlefield. Cases of divorce (among military couples) are rising."

She’s hopeful the measure can pass this year despite probable opposition from Senate Republicans again.

Last month, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced he hopes to give combat troops 15 months of dwell time between deployments starting this fall, and up to 30 months by the end of 2011.

Gates told a Senate committee that planned growth in Army and Marine Corps personnel and the anticipated drawdown of troops in Iraq should allow for more time at home, a public goal of his since he took over the department.

But co-sponsor Rep. Carol Shea Porter, D-N.H., said even if those plans come about, she believes Congress needs to set minimum dwell time standards for future operations to ensure individual troops aren’t worn down by frequent deployments.

"Somehow we think it’s OK to send our troops into combat for extended periods of time, and then send them again and again and again," said Shea-Porter, a military spouse.

Veterans groups hailed the measure as a way to ensure fairness for troops and their families.

"How many of us would make a career out of the service if we were only with our families six out of 42 months?" said retired Vice Adm. Norbert Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America.

"But we had some of these guys going out on 15-month tours, and during their year home they’re still away training for six of those months."

The legislation does include language allowing the president a waiver in the dwell time ratio in cases of national emergencies. No hearing has been scheduled on the legislation.


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