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ARLINGTON, Va. — Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., wants to give military retirees the same dislocation allowance pay given to servicemembers when they move from duty station to duty station.

The congressman, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who hails from a district surrounded by military bases, said it’s the least he can do for those who served the nation.

“This is the right thing to do, whether in peacetime or in war,” Jones said. “We ask a great deal of our military men and women, and it’s a way to say thank you for their service to our nation.”

Since 1955, active-duty personnel changing duty station have received the dislocation allowance to cover incidentals such as costs to break rental agreements and deposits for utilities or rental security.

In fiscal 2002, the allowance rate ranged from $1,540 for E-5s and below to $3,300 for O-7s and higher. Rates fluctuate depending on servicemembers’ rate and time in service.

Retirees aren’t paid the dislocation allowance.

“There is a false belief that retirees don’t need the same salary as civilians for the same position. Therefore some employers offer retirees less wages, knowing they are in receipt of retirement pay,” Jones said. “Additionally, the military retiree will have to meet the same financial demands for mortgages, insurance, taxes, and food on a smaller income.”

While the tallying has yet to be completed, the cost to pay retirees the allowance could range between $30 million and $50 million a year, said John Weaver, Jones’ legislative director.

In fiscal 2002, 27,400 people retired from the military, down from more than 37,000 in fiscal 2001 and 30,800 in fiscal 2000.

Jones introduced the bill last year, but did so after lawmakers already had haggled over the defense spending. The bill never made it out of committee, Weaver said. The Fleet Reserve Association has voiced support for the bill both years.

The North Carolina lawmaker said he is “optimistic” the measure will pass through Congress this year.

“We’re always cautiously optimizing, but I think we can work the issues and get it through,” Jones said.

He introduced the bill last week and it has not yet been discussed by the armed services committee.

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