By Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill and Sgt. 1st Class Jon SoucyMay 10, 2010
ARLINGTON, Va. (May 7, 2010) -- Thousands of Army National Guard Soldiers, including those who have retired or separated, have till Oct. 28 to apply for Post Deployment Mobilization Respite Absence (PDMRA) compensation for serving long, overseas deployments.
"We've got about 14, 000 eligible Soldiers," said Col. Dennis Chapman, chief of Personnel and Policy for the Army National Guard. "About two-thirds of those are still in service, and we've got packets submitted for about 87 percent of the Soldiers that are still in service."
There are about 5,000 former Guard Soldiers that are eligible for the benefit, said Chapman, adding that packets have been received for about 20 percent of those no longer serving.
"So, the real challenge is reaching those out of service," he said.
The Department of Defense developed PDMRA for servicemembers who were deployed longer than established dwell ratios. For reserve component servicemembers that dwell ratio is one year deployed for every five years at home station.
"If you have a tour ending today, you look back 72 months and if you were (mobilized) for more than 12 months out of that 72 months, you may be eligible for PDMRA days," said Chapman.
Initially, PDMRA allowed Soldiers to earn additional administrative leave days for the additional time spent deployed. However, Soldiers must be in a Title 10 status to use those leave days. That meant that once Army Guard Soldiers returned to Title 32 status, they were ineligible to use those days, said Chapman.
As a stop gap measure the policy was revised and allowed eligible Soldiers to apply those leave days to their next deployment. But for those who left the service or don't deploy again, that effectively meant they couldn't take advantage of the benefit, said Chapman.
"Congress passed a law in the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, authorizing the services to pay Soldiers at a rate of up to $200 a day for any PDMRA days they earned ... but were not able to take," said Chapman.
Primarily, those who may have earned days under the program, but were not able to use them, are those Guard Soldiers serving on active duty between the signing of the initial policy on Jan. 19, 2007, and when implementation guidelines were published by the Army on Aug. 18, 2007, said Chapman.
However, other laws and policies may affect a Soldier's eligibility.
Typically, a Guard Soldier who serves longer than 12 months during the most recent 72 months gets one PDMRA day for each additional month or fraction of a month. The number of PDMRA days awarded increases after 18 months and again after 24 months served.
On average, those who are eligible receive credit for about 28 days, which translates to more than $5,000, said Chapman. And those who feel they may be eligible are urged to contact their unit leadership or their state military pay officer.
"A Soldier cannot figure this out themselves," he said. "All they can figure out is that they might be due. So, if you fall under the parameters, it may be good to check with the military pay officer in your state."