An Army program that offered captains up to $35,000 to stay in the service will end on Nov. 30, Army officials said.

Army officials believe they have retained as many captains as they can, said Col. Paul L. Aswell, chief of the Army’s officer division. Of the 21,000 captains eligible for the program, about 16,000 signed contracts to stay in the Army through 2011.

The Army expects many of the officers who did not opt for the incentive will remain, but they do not want to commit to three years, as required by the program, he said.

Aswell could not say whether the recent economic downturn may have convinced those officers to stay in the Army.

"From 2000 to 2007 we lost about 12.1 percent of our captains every year, and that included officers who were eligible for these incentives, but last year, [fiscal] 2008, we lost 10.6 percent of our captains," he said. "We don’t know if it’s based on the incentives or if it’s based on the economy."

Reimbursement up for some vetsWASHINGTON — Veterans can now collect 41.5 cents per mile for reimbursement for cost of travel to Veterans Affairs facilities for medical care, a Texas congressman reminded former servicemembers Tuesday.

The reimbursement for veterans increased from 28.5 cents a mile on Monday. The increase was part of a record $16.3 billion increase in spending approved by Congress this year. President Bush signed the legislation before the elections.

Rep. Chet Edwards, chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees spending on veterans care, said travel reimbursements were frozen at 11 cents a mile since 1979 when gasoline was 95 cents a gallon until Congress passed a bill in January raising it to 28.5 cents per mile. A second bill that funds government through Sept. 30, 2009, added the increase now in effect.

"This might not seem like a lot of money to a lot of people, but to rural veterans, it could be the difference between getting health care and going without," Edwards said.

Deductibles for mileage reimbursement will decrease on Jan. 9, 2009, from $7.77 for a one-way trip to $3 and from $15.54 to $6 round trip. The maximum deductible of $46.42 per month will drop to $16, according to Veterans Affairs.

Scheduling issues delay GI’s trialFORT BRAGG, N.C. — Problems with scheduling witnesses have delayed the court-martial of a New York Army National Guard soldier accused in the deaths of two officers in Iraq.

Military judge Col. Stephen Henley adjourned the courtroom early Tuesday afternoon because of a lack of defense witnesses present in the case of Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez.

The Fayetteville Observer reports that prosecutors say they can’t reach some witnesses and others won’t arrive on schedule.

Lead prosecutor Lt. Col. Bradley Huestis told Henley there are also unresolved differences over some defense witnesses and what they would testify to.

Martinez has pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder in the 2005 deaths of Capt. Phillip Esposito of Suffern, N.Y., and 1st Lt. Louis Allen of Milford, Pa.

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