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Getting soldiers their extra pay

Published (2/18/2010)
By Patty Ostberg
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Rep. Phil Sterner, whose district includes the Rosemount National Guard Armory and Community Center, recognizes the command staff of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Feb. 12 on the House floor. The division is based at the Rosemount facility. Red Bulls in attendance are, from left: Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, Brig. Gen. David Elicerio, Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Julin, Col. Neal Loidolt, Col. Dirk Kloss, Lt. Col. Stefanie Horvat and Lt. Col. John Morris. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)Thousands of the Minnesota’s National Guard 34th Red Bull Infantry Division are still waiting for the extra pay they were promised by the federal government in October 2009.

In response, Rep. Phil Sterner (DFL-Rosemount) sponsors HF2908 that urges President Obama to order the secretary of defense and other responsible federal government officials to promptly issue their claim. The resolution states many soldiers are especially in need due to “the current economic and employment situation facing all veterans returning to the United States.”

The House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Committee approved the resolution Feb. 15. It now goes to the House floor.

Col. Eric Ahlness, director of government relations for the Minnesota National Guard, said the resolution’s intent is to bring the issue to the attention of federal leadership overseeing the payment of benefits in hopes it will expedite the process.

Congress enacted legislation in October 2009 authorizing implementation of the leave benefit pay. It was only recently that military leadership issued guidance on how to implement the process to pay soldiers for the months served between January and August of 2007, Ahlness said. Approximately 2,500 Minnesota soldiers qualify for the $200 per day for an extra four months of military service.

Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake) said in a previous committee, “We need to send a message back to Washington that they need to clear this up as soon as possible.”

A companion, SF2600, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes (DFL-Winona), awaits action by the Senate Agriculture and Veterans Committee.

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