/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
Minnesota National Guard
MN Troops 'Betrayed'; Won't Get Pay Until After Oct. 1

Hundreds of Minnesota National Guard troops, caught in a frustrating ordeal to get bonus payments that were summarily taken away during their year-long deployment to Iraq and Kuwait only to be restored by an act of Congress in May, will have to keep waiting

The lump-sum payments now will not be paid until after the new federal fiscal year begins Oct 1, according to guidance provided this week from the Department of Defense to the Minnesota National Guard

"We wish that it would have been done a little bit sooner," Lt. Col. Matt Vatter, chief of personnel for the Minnesota Army National Guard, said in an interview Friday

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS first contacted the Pentagon July 6 to inquire about the status of the payments, after hearing from concerned service members that the payments had not arrived and would be smaller than first expected

Rep John Kline, also contacted last week by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, spoke to the Defense Department's Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness on Thursday, his office said, to press for full and prompt payment of the Post Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence Program (PDMRA) benefits to an estimated 49,000 troops nationwide

It was Kline's bill HR4045, supported by the rest of Minnesota's Congressional delegation and signed by President Barack Obama at the end of May, that ordered the Pentagon to grandfather in those 49,000 troops When 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS contacted the Defense Department last week, the Pentagon had still not implemented the law

"Our troops deserve better than to fall through the cracks of a broken bureaucratic process," Rep Kline wrote in a letter to Under Secretary Erin Conaton sent Thursday

"As a result," of the delay since Kline's bill was passed and signed into law in May restoring the benefits, Kline wrote, "our soldiers are frustrated and feel betrayed by their leadership, and I urge you to do everything you can to help them"

Spc Richard Leonard, a nine-year veteran of the Minnesota National Guard and single father from Woodbury, estimates he'll lose about $2,000 because of the delay in processing benefits

Since the Pentagon did not process the full PDMRA benefits while Leonard and approximately 800 Minnesota guardsmen were still on active duty, the troops will no longer have the option of extra leave - essentially paid time off - at the end of their recent deployment and will instead be offered a lump sum payment, minus a housing allowance and other benefits that are accorded to active-duty troops

Lt. Col. Vatter estimates that by the time the Pentagon processes the payments, 99 percent of Minnesota troops eligible will no longer be on active duty, and thus will not receive those active-duty benefits

"It was something that was promised to us and we banked on that I banked on that, I know for sure," Spc Leonard said in an interview Friday

The Minnesota National Guard plans to send a memo soon to all affected guardsmen explaining the new timetable, Lt. Col. Vatter said The Guard expects to receive more information from Army headquarters after August 10th about the payment process

Watch our story below for more information
Article source with video

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."

Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.

148th Fighter Wing hosts STEM program for Duluth-area students

Posted: 2018-06-05  08:52 AM
Starbase Duluth DULUTH, Minn. - Dozens of community and industry leaders passionate about helping children become more engaged in science, technology, engineering and math gathered at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minn., May 24, 2018, to see what STARBASE Minnesota Duluth is doing for young students in the area.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense youth program that engages students in STEM studies. The program began in 1991, and STARBASE Minnesota was founded in 1993 in St. Paul, which expanded to Duluth in July 2017.

Currently, the school program is open to fifth-grade students, said Charity S. Rupp, the director of STARBASE Minnesota Duluth. The summer camp will serve students in 4-6th grade. Eventually, she hopes the program will expand into STARBASE 2.0 to serve middle school students as an after school program during the academic school year.

Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."

Article archive