I am currently deployed to Afghanistan and did not have a clue about retroactive stop-loss pay until I read Tom Philpott’s Military Update column (“Stop-lossed vets must claim pay by Oct. 21,” Sept. 11). It stated, “Some members while in stop-loss status changed their minds about leaving and re-enlisted. If they did, or were paid bonus money, they will only be eligible for the $500 for months or partial months of stop loss before electing to re-enlist.”
I completed the application online and the response I was given was that I was not eligible because I had received a re-enlistment bonus. To me this didn’t make sense, so I went online to find out why. From what I understand, a Defense Authorization Act signed into law Dec. 19 prohibits paying retroactive stop-loss pay to any retired or former members who extended or re-enlisted and collected a bonus while they were in stop loss.
The reason it doesn’t make sense is because the pay is used to compensate for servicemembers being involuntarily extended. I was supposed to ETS July 30, 2004, but, because of the stop loss, I couldn’t and deployed to Iraq in February 2004. I was stop lossed from October 2003 to June 30, 2005. So a month prior to my new ETS date (June 30, 2005), I was forced to make a decision. Having a family, I thought it would be best to stay in, so I chose to re-enlist. I re-enlisted on May 18, 2005, for four years and received a bonus for those 48 months.
I sacrificed just like other servicemembers through the stop loss. I served when I was asked to — the same as many other servicemembers — so why am I ineligible to be paid like other servicemembers for this involuntary extension?
Sgt. Dagoberto Avila
Fort Carson, Colo.