Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wisconsin Guard part of national effort to ensure its Soldiers collect money earned

March 4, 2010 - At least 6,000 National Guard members nationwide may be eligible for Post-Deployment Mobilization Respite Absence, or PDMRA compensation. But the Wisconsin Guard needs Soldiers' help if they want to collect.

In 2009 the Department of Defense developed PDMRA for service members who deploy longer than established dwell ratios - a measure of time at home against time deployed. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review calls for the National Guard to have a dwell ratio of about five-to-one.

Soldiers who deploy longer than established ratios qualify for additional days of leave, or paid days off. For example, a National Guard Soldier who deploys longer than 12 months during the most recent 72 months gets one PDMRA day for each additional month or fraction of a month. The number of PDMRA days awarded increases after 18 months and again after 24 months served.

Soldiers receive their PDRMA at the end of their tour. However, Guard Soldiers who mobilized prior to policy enactment have not received their entitlement - specifically those that deployed between Jan. 19, 2007, and Aug. 18, 2007 and served longer than a year. With the help of the National Guard Bureau, Wisconsin has identified at least 430 past or current members that could receive payment for PDMRA days they earned.

Wisconsin Guard Soldiers eligible for the PDMRA compensation who are still serving in the Guard will be notified by their commands, and do not need to fill out any paperwork as they are still in the military pay system, according to Col. Mark Bruns, Wisconsin Army National Guard deputy chief of staff for personnel. However, Soldiers who have left the service honorably or retired are included under this authority. In Wisconsin that is about 240 former members.

"We are using every available means to contact these Soldiers," Bruns said, since reimbursement authority under the program expires Oct. 28, including mailing letters to last known addresses.

Given the limited time Soldiers have to seek compensation, Bruns wants to make certain that everyone who is eligible for compensation receives that information.

Soldiers have 30 days after receiving their letter to respond, Bruns said. However, the sooner they respond the more time personnel staff members have to make sure all paperwork is submitted properly to avoid problems in the future.

Individuals who receive the letter and have questions may call the contact person at the bottom of the letter. Soldiers who believe they may be eligible for compensation, but have not been contacted are urged to contact their chain of command.

Soldiers should receive their PDRMA entitlement payments between March and October.

Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill of the National Guard Bureau contributed to this release.

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