ARLINGTON, Va. — A week after the official announcement about an all-unit stop-loss lift came out, the Army finally issued its official “MILPERS,” or military personnel, message on the lift Wednesday.

The gap between Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki’s signing of the order last week and the appearance of the MILPERS message caused confusion and stress for many families trying to plan their post-Army lives.

MILPERS messages give very precise details to units about exactly how any given order will work. What seems to be bureaucratic minutiae is the only way a unit’s personnel staff can begin to execute the order.

And for many deployed units far from their usual base news “grapevines,” the Internet-based MILPERS message is the first communication they will see that tells them the stop-loss lift is not a rumor, but real.

Army officials put the word out May 29 that restrictions for all deployed active-component units were now over. The news also included a stop-loss lift for soldiers in about half of the skills-specific specialties that had been required to stay on active duty.

All told, the lift unlocked the “exit” door for about 16,000 active duty soldiers who were scheduled to leave the Army before now, but couldn’t because they were under restrictions. Another 4,900 Army Reserve and 675 National Guard soldiers with restricted skills who were frozen in place can also leave between now and October, according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Stan Heath.

Articles about the stop loss appeared last week not only in Stars and Stripes and other commercial publications aimed at soldiers, but on the Army’s official news Web site.

Almost immediately, both Stripes and the Army’s personnel office were flooded with e-mails and calls asking what was going on, most of them from anxious spouses with husbands in Iraq who were being told their units were not, in fact, “unstopped.”

“The Army is not handling this very well, in my opinion,” the Germany-based spouse of a soldier in the 1st Armor Division said in an e-mail to Stripes. “There are a lot of wives, including me, who would really like to know when our husbands are coming home, and when we can [leave] the Army.”

To see the full text of the MILPERS message on unit stop loss, go to:

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