Provision passed by House paves way for Pentagon to provide benefits to Iowa National Guard troops

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) today announced that his Guaranteed Benefits for Our Troops Act (HR 1222) was included in the final FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House today by a vote of 281-146.  The legislation will now be sent to the Senate for passage and then onto President Obama to be signed into law.

Braley's fix will ensure that hundreds of Iowa National Guard members are provided benefits they were promised under the Department of Defense's Post-Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence (PDMRA) program, commonly known as "Respite Leave."  Over 20,000 Army National Guard members across the country - including almost 800 members of the Iowa National Guard - did not receive benefits they earned due to delay between the announcement of the leave program by the Department of Defense and the implementation of the program by the individual services.

"Today brings us one critical step closer to ensuring that National Guard troops across the country receive the benefits they earned and deserve," Braley said.  "Iowa National Guard troops have served some of the most grueling and lengthy deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we owe it to them to provide these long overdue benefits immediately.  I'm looking forward to seeing President Obama sign this important legislation into law, and seeing Iowa National Guard troops finally receive the benefits they have long been promised by the Pentagon."

Respite Leave was designed to provide service members deployed to places like Iraq and Afghanistan for longer than established rotation cycles additional help to reintegrate back to civilian life, as well as to improve the retention of service members who had experienced especially long tours of duty.

Once the Respite Leave program was announced, however, there were significant delays before its implementation.  The Department of the Army, for example, didn't issue its corresponding policy for implementing Respite Leave until more than six months after the Pentagon's January 2007 announcement of the program.

Because of this gap, thousands of soldiers from the Army National Guard did not receive proper Respite Leave compensation.

Braley first introduced the Guaranteed Benefits for Our Troops Act in July 2008.  The bill, which will allow the Pentagon to retroactively grant up to $200 per day to affected troops, has previously passed the House as part of the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act and as part of a Department of Defense appropriations bill.

The legislation will now be sent to the Senate for passage and then onto President Obama to be signed into law.

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