Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today announced that her bipartisan legislation to ensure Minnesota soldiers receive full benefits passed the Senate today. Klobuchar introduced the legislation with U.S. Representative John Kline; the legislation passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday and will now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The Defense Department recently reduced the amount of post-deployment leave eligible soldiers may receive, which would have impacted members of the Minnesota National Guard’s 1/34th Brigade Combat Team (BCT) who have been serving in Kuwait since July 2011 to assist the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The legislation ensures the Red Bulls of Minnesota’s 1/34th BCT will receive either the full amount of leave they were promised when they mobilized or an equivalent payment. Earlier today Klobuchar spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in support of the legislation.
“When our men and women in uniform signed up to serve there wasn’t a line, and there shouldn’t be a line to get the benefits they earned when they come home,” Klobuchar said.“The Minnesota Red Bulls have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and this legislation ensures these men and women receive the full amount of leave benefits they were promised and earned defending our country.”
“Promises made should be promises kept, and it is unconscionable for the Pentagon to have changed the rules while Minnesota’s famed Red Bulls were defending freedom overseas,” said John Kline, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.“I am pleased the entire Minnesota congressional delegation put partisan politics aside and worked together to ensure our sons and daughters in uniform received the benefits they were promised.”
“Senator Klobuchar and Congressman Kline have been fighting to ensure our troops receive what they were promised,” said Major General Rick Nash of the Minnesota National Guard.
In October, the Department of Defense changed to the Post Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence (PDMRA) program, reducing the amount of leave benefits provided to eligible soldiers from four days per month served to one or two, depending on location of service. This change could have the impact of decreasing by up to 27 days the amount of leave accrued by approximately 770 members (95%) of the 1/34th BCT who are eligible for PDMRA benefits.
Klobuchar previously worked to help members of the Red Bulls receive over $10 million in PDMRA payments that were delayed for more than three years after the soldiers served in Iraq from 2005-2007, which was the longest tour at that time of any American military unit deployed to Iraq.