Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Representative John Kline today announced that their bipartisan legislation to ensure Minnesota soldiers receive full benefits was signed into law by the President. Klobuchar and Kline worked together to pass the bill in the Senate and House last week. 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.
“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 is a victory for the Minnesota Red Bulls and all servicemen and women of the National Guard and Reserve, ensuring they receive the full amount of leave benefits they were promised and earned defending our country.”
“Promises made should be promises kept, and I am committed to ensuring the government keeps faith with our troops,”said Kline, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. “The entire Minnesota congressional delegation worked together to guarantee our sons and daughters in uniform received the benefits they were promised and earned. Speed counts, and I am pleased the President swiftly signed this into law.”
"I want to thank Senator Klobuchar, Representative Kline and the Minnesota Congressional Delegation for their efforts over the past several months to pass this critical legislation. Thanks to their hard work, hundreds of men and women in the Minnesota National Guard who have recently returned home will get the leave benefits 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 had the impact of decreasing by up to 27 days the amount of leave accrued by approximately 800 members (95%) of the 1/34th BCT who are eligible for PDMRA benefits, as well as 49,000 Reserve members nationwide.
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.