Monday, August 04, 2008
"Stop-Loss" bonus dollars
Last week, a house subcommittee voted to grant a retroactive $500 per month bonus for all the extra months of harrowing duty in Iraq and Afghanistan that our "stop-loss" soldiers are forced to endure. Stop-loss soldiers are those who completed their contractual tours of duty only to be told they aren't done yet.
After I saw the very moving film, "Stop Loss", I did some "googling" and found the court case of a soldier who thought it unfair that his service contract could be extended against his will. Before the Civil War, we had another name for that kind of contract. In 2004, two weeks before completing his 8 year contract with the National Guard, Emiliano Santiago was told he must deploy to Afghanistan. He fought the order all the way to the Supreme Court, but lost at every level. The small print on his contract - since stop loss was invented in 1990 - says that the President can order troops to stay beyond their discharge date if a war or a state of emergency exists. Santiago was shipped out to Afghanistan in June, 2005. I was not able to find any update on how he has fared.
Anyone who sees the film, "Stop Loss," will feel the absurdity of valuing a month of unexpected, harrowing "soldier-ing" in Iraq with a $500 bonus. But we're talking about 160,000 soldiers who've had their contracts changed and about 12,000 extra months of war between them. The total price tag comes to about 600 million dollars. I guess it's easier for stockholders of a big corporation to give their CEO a multi-million dollar bonus since they count it against the profits they've reaped. The soldiers just don't bring us citizen-stakeholders any profits.
Here are the articles and blogs I read:
USA Today 1/2004
Seattle Weekly 3/2005
Blog by a Military Family 4/2005
Armed Forces Journal - 5/2008