'Stop-loss' bonus pay going out

Time is running out for service members to claim bonus pay owed to them under the government's so-called "stop-loss" policy.

Anyone subjected to the policy -- which is the involuntary extension of a service member's active duty enlistment contract -- from 2001 to 2009 is entitled to special pay from the government.

The deadline for the Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay program was scheduled to be Oct. 21, but President Obama recently signed legislation to extend it until Dec. 3. More than 145,000 people are eligible for the pay.

Service members and veterans are entitled to $500 for each month or partial month they were on stop-loss status, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Officials at both Fort Gordon and the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta said they are not involved in the program and urged service members to use the government's Web site.

In a recent statement on the DOD's Web site, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged eligible service members to apply.

"If you were affected by Stop Loss, ... I would encourage you to go to www.defense.gov/stoploss to learn more," Gates said.

"The average payment has been about $3,800. But don't wait too long," Gates said.

For more details

Service members can call or log on to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay:

ARMY: (877) 736-5554

MARINE CORPS: (877) 242-2830

NAVY: (901) 874-4427

AIR FORCE: (800) 525-0102

ONLINE: www.defense.gov/stoploss