WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama wants to make sure veterans and current servicemembers who were involuntarily retained in the military under the so-called "Stop Loss" program get the retroactive pay they deserve.

"You served with honor. You did your duty. And when your country called on you again, you did your duty again. Now, it's time to collect the special pay that you deserve," President Barack Obama said in a public service announcement released by the White House today.

Military members whose service was involuntarily extended or whose retirement was suspended between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, are entitled to a retroactive payment of $500 for each month of extension. While by law, service members who received a bonus for voluntarily reenlisting or extending their service are not eligible, it is strongly recommended that all who may be eligible submit an application before the deadline, according to Defense Department officials. The application deadline is Oct. 21. Information on the special pay and links to the application are available at <a href="http://www.defense.gov/stoploss/">www.defense.gov/stoploss</a>.

About 58,000 of 145,000 eligible claims have been paid, and $219 million has been disbursed of the $534 million appropriated, Defense Department officials said.

While tens of thousands of veterans already have received retroactive pay averaging nearly $4,000 each, the president said many others may be reluctant to apply.

"I know there's been some confusion and skepticism out there," he said. "Some veterans think this is some sort of gimmick or scam, or that it's a way for the government to call you back to service. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"As your commander in chief," Obama continued, "I'm here to tell you that this is no gimmick or trick. You worked hard. You earned this money. It doesn't matter whether you were active or reserve, whether you're a veteran who experienced 'Stop Loss' or the survivor of a servicemember who did - if your service was extended, you're eligible."

The military services are promoting the retroactive pay through direct mail, veteran and service organizations, websites, phone lines, print and broadcast media. The president's message underscores the effort to spread the word.

"Share this video among your fellow veterans," the president urged. "Help us get our 'Stop Loss' veterans the pay to which they're entitled. Help us make sure that America is serving our veterans and your families as well as you've served us."

Page last updated Wed September 15th, 2010 at 16:02