ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, June 1, 2009) - A new program that provides special pay for Soldiers deploying past their end-of-service dates is set to take affect Sept. 1 for the National Guard.

The Deployment Extension Stabilization Pay program replaces the stop-loss program and pays a cash bonus of up to $6,000 to Soldiers in units set to deploy who elect to stay in past their end-of-service date in order to deploy, said Col. Marianne Watson, Army National Guard Personnel officer.

The bonus is not a lump sum payment and the amount of the incentive depends upon when the Soldier decides to extend their enlistment contract.

The Army's stop-loss program has been used since 9/11 to extend Soldiers in critical jobs past the end of their enlistment contract in order to deploy.

"If you agree to extend from 180 days to 365 days (prior to the mobilization date) we're going to offer you $500 a month for each month that you're in a Title 10 (active duty) status," said Watson. For those who extend between 179 days and 90 days before the mobilization date, that rate drops to $350 for each month on active duty.

Soldiers who elect to take advantage of this program would have their enlistment contracts extended for the length of the deployment plus 90 days, said Watson. However, in order to qualify for the incentive pay, Soldiers must make it through Soldiers readiness processing at the mobilization station.

Those Soldiers who have enlistment contracts that expire during the deployment and who choose not to extend may still have to deploy.

"We would take a Soldier who could serve a minimum of six months boots-on-ground, plus still keep or maintain 90 days of reintegration," said Watson. "So a Guard Soldier would go to mobilization station for two to three months, they would go to theatre and they would do a minimum of six months boots-on-ground. Then they could come back up to three months early. "

To put it another way, said Watson, "anybody with a contract expiration date of mobilization-day-plus-one-year, we're taking to theatre." But Soldiers may rotate out of theatre up to three months early if need be in order to have them take part in the 30-, 60- and 90-day reintegration programs prior to the end of their term of service.

"We said as a reserve component we still need to maintain that 30-, 60-, 90-day reintegration period," said Watson.

For unit commanders, the new policy provides them a way to establish early-on their units' manpower needs for the deployment, said Watson.

"The Guard program provides stabilization for units in the deployment window," said Watson. "Our goal is to stabilize the organization and lock in the formations for the commander as far out as we can up to 365 days prior to the mobilization date."

For those Soldiers who extend their contracts past the mobilization plus the 90-day reintegration window, standard retention bonuses would apply.

Stop Loss affects just one percent of the Guard and only for limited time periods, according to National Guard officials. It has been used since 9/11 to ensure Citizen-Soldiers in units going in harm's way train and fight together and that those units have the troops to carry out all missions of all types and maximize Soldier safety.

The Army still retains the authority for future use of Stop Loss under extraordinary circumstances.

For more information contact you state personnel office.

(Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy writes for the National Guard Bureau.)