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While a bill that would have paid retirees a dislocation allowance to cover moving costs when they separate from the military didn’t get through Congress, the bill’s sponsor promises to keep pushing for it.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., wanted the military to dole out the same dislocation allowance that is paid to active-duty members moving from one duty station to another, saying the retirees’ service entitled them to the benefit.

The dislocation allowance covers incidentals that range from fees for breaking rental agreements to home rental deposits to or cash for utilities or rental security deposits.

But priorities on the nation’s cash stymied the bill’s progress through the House Armed Services Committee, said Jones’ spokeswoman, Lanier Swann.

“Military retirees are one of [Jones’] top priorities,” Swann said. “He has 60,000 … in his district. It’s something that will stay on the radar screen and something he will continue to pursue, possibly reintroducing it.”

If the bill is reintroduced, it won’t be until the fall session, she said.

The dislocation allowance is one benefit active-duty folks overwhelmingly embrace, said Cory Wilson, a spokesman with the Fleet Reserve Association, which recently conducted a survey on the issue.

While out of reach for this year, FRA will continue to lobby for the bill’s passage, Wilson said.

“We will continue to push for it, no doubt about it,” said Wilson. “… But if you look at budget constraints this year, there are other priorities in Congress.”

Retiring members aren’t eligible for dislocation allowances, even though they encounter similar relocation expenses and some experience a reduction in pay, he said.

Since 1955, active-duty personnel changing duty station have received the dislocation allowance.

According to the FRA’s survey, 97 percent of active-duty members polled said they believe there is a need for a dislocation allowance for retiring members.

Survey results indicated that upon retirement, 88 percent of those surveyed planned to move 50 miles or more from their final duty stations, and 56 percent predicted their out-of-pocket moving expenses would exceed $3,000.

Preliminary numbers show 55,319 members retired from service in fiscal 2003, 27,400 in fiscal 2002 and 37,000 in fiscal 2001.

FRA conducted the Web-based survey in November to collect data and support to help Jones push his bill through Congress. More than 1,000 active-duty personnel participated, ranging in grade from E-1 to O-7. Roughly 80 percent were enlisted personnel, with 56 percent of those ranked E-5 through E-7.

As of Jan. 1, the allowance rate ranges from $692.28 for E-1s without dependents and $1,063.99 with dependents to $2,819.31 for O-7s and above without dependents and $3,470.55 with dependents.

“The survey results are pretty compelling,” Wilson said. “It shows that in the fleet and among military persons, it’s a very important issue and one that needs to be addressed.”

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