U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on Friday introduced legislation that would ensure that Minnesota National Guard soldiers now serving overseas receive the full benefits they were promised when they return home.
The Defense Department recently changed its policy on a program designed to provide time off for troops returning from deployments, reducing credit for time served. Because of the changes, some of the 2,700 members of the Minnesota National Guard now deployed in Kuwait could stand to lose paid leave they were promised when they left.
Klobuchar's bill would ensure that the policy change would not apply to the Minnesota soldiers and other troops serving overseas before the new rule was announced.
In October, the Defense Department made changes to the Post Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence program, reducing the amount of leave provided to eligible soldiers from four days per month to one or two, depending on location of service. It also could reduce the number of soldiers eligible for benefits.
Klobuchar's office said the changes could decrease by up to 27 days the amount of leave accrued by approximately 770 members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division who are eligible for benefits.
Klobuchar's legislation, which is similar to legislation introduced earlier this week in the U.S. House by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., would require the Defense Department to apply the new rule only to forces that deployed after Oct. 1, 2011.