Troops Ignoring $324M in Unclaimed Backpay

Many believe it's too good to be true
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2010 8:07 AM CDT
A former Army soldier and former Marine begin a seven-day tower-guard vigil against the use of the military's stop-loss and inactive ready ready reserve policies, Aug. 26, 2007, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(Newser) – The government is trying—really hard—to dole out $324 million in no-strings-attached money to military troops, but many have yet to apply for their share of the free cash. About 145,000 troops who were involuntarily kept on duty under the military’s controversial “stop-loss” policy, which was phased out last year, are eligible for $500 in backpay per month of involuntary service. On average, they are due between $3,500 and $3,800, but many troops “are questioning whether this is legitimate,” a Pentagon rep tells the Washington Post.

To claim the cash, an application must be submitted by Oct. 21, but only about one-third of the eligible troops have submitted one. The Department of Defense is trying to track down 90,000 veterans and some active-duty troops who have yet to apply, via letters, veterans groups, relatives, and a publicity campaign including social media. “We knew it was going to be a challenge," the rep says. "As a military culture, we generally don't pay people for services rendered; we pay them when they serve."

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