June 29, 2009

Wyden Commends Committee For Approving Back Pay for Combat Vets

Wyden's PDMRA Legislation Included in Defense Authorization Bill

Washington, D.C. - Affirming support for the brave men and women of the U.S. military, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) expressed gratitude and thanks to the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for including a Wyden-authored provision to retroactively pay soldiers for leave earned under the Post Deployment and Mobilization Respite Absence (PDMRA) in the 2010 Defense Authorization bill.

More than 20,000 service members - at least 864 from Oregon - have not received their earned leave due to a delay between the announcement of the leave program by the Department of Defense and the establishment of the program by the individual military services. Wyden's legislation reimburses soldiers who were left out during that period. The bill was unanimously passed out of committee on Thursday and is expected to be voted on soon by the full Senate.

"This is welcome news for the men and women who served this country bravely but were denied their paid leave because of a bureaucratic delay," Wyden said. "This legislation honors their service and makes sure that they receive the compensation they deserve. I thank the committee for recognizing this important legislation and including it in the upcoming bill."

PDMRA leave was designed to provide service members who were deployed beyond established rotation cycles to Iraq and Afghanistan (and in specific instances to Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kyrgyzstan) additional time to reintegrate back into civilian life, as well as to help with retention of service members who had experienced long tours.

The delay in implementation varied from service to service. The Department of the Army didn't issue its corresponding policy for implementing PDMRA until more than six months after DoD's January 19, 2007 issuance date. During this gap, thousands of soldiers from the National Guard and Army Reserve alone separated from the service, and did not receive proper compensation for their PDMRA leave.

Under the bill, DoD's Personnel office would have the legal authority to pay each service member a $200 per day benefit retroactively.