WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced legislation that would ensure that Minnesota National Guard soldiers serving overseas receive the full benefits they were promised when they return home. The Defense Department recently reduced the amount of post-deployment leave that eligible soldiers may receive, which could impact members of the Minnesota National Guard’s 1/34th Brigade Combat Team (BCT) that have been serving in Kuwait since July, 2011 to assist the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Klobuchar’s bill would ensure that the policy change would not apply to Minnesota’s Red Bulls and other troops serving overseas before the new rule was announced.
“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.“This legislation will ensure that the Minnesota Red Bulls receive the full number of leave benefits they were promised and earned for their exceptional service to this nation.”
In October, the Department of Defense made changes to the Post Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence (PDMRA) program, reducing the amount of leave benefits provided to eligible soldiers from four days per month to one or two, depending on location of service, and also potentially reducing the number of soldiers eligible for benefits. These changes 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’s legislation would require the Department of Defense to apply the new PDMRA rule only to forces that deployed after October 1, 2011, ensuring that all of the Red Bulls would receive the leave they earned and were promised.
Earlier this week, Klobuchar sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta calling on the Secretary to ensure that while implementing the new PDMRA rule, the Minnesota Red Bulls would receive the leave benefits they were promised. In addition, 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.