USO Baghdad Gets Ready for Some Football!

The staff of USO Baghdad shows their team spirit as they gear up for another great NFL season. (USO photo by Courtney Haueter)

Baghdad, Iraq – For the second season in a row, the NFL has chosen Baghdad USO on Sather Air Base as a location for its NFL Live Package. Guests of USO Baghdad will get the privilege of being able to watch any of the games being played around the league both live and replay. If we have a large contingent of fans from a particular area of the US, we’ll play their home team or we can chose the best match up for the week to watch. Missed the games due to sleep, work or flights? No problem, the NFL Package can replay any game played this year and we can also fast forward to the best parts.

The staff of the USO Baghdad will be wearing NFL jerseys from their hometown favorites and classic players. Duty Manager Frank Stinson is taking bragging rights with his home state Saints while Megan Lynch of Buffalo, NY stands by her Bills. Originally a Los Angeles Native, Richard McCarty wears a throwback LA Rams unit and Robin Symes salutes “Mean” Joe Greene, all-pro Steelers defensive lineman. The 9ers, Dolphins and Jets will be represented by Ernie, David and Ian and we look forward to a lot of trash talking every week.

Retroactive Stop Loss Pay: The Army Perspective

By Major Roy Whitley, Program Manager, Army Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay Program

Image Courtesy of The U.S. Army's Facebook Page

Perhaps the biggest challenges we’ve faced with this program are identifying and notifying Soldiers and veterans eligible for this pay.  Historically, stop loss has been a force management tool and not tied to compensation, so we did not readily maintain lists of those held under stop loss.  Prior to Congress authorizing this pay, the Army took proactive steps to review personnel records spanning a decade to establish who may be eligible.  While the Army has identified 120,000 who qualify, we have consistently asked anyone who may qualify to submit an application.  We’ve expanded our message to the broadest audience, to ensure those whose extended service may not have been captured in our database are still afforded the opportunity to apply for and receive the benefit they have earned.  For that reason, we jump at opportunities like this one presented by the USO.  Like all outreach activities we undertake, I hope this post reaches those yet to hear about the program, while serving as an alert to apply for the pay and to spread the word.

The Army’s Retroactive Stop Loss Program Management Office has been taking and working claims since October 21, 2009.  To date, over 70,000 Soldiers and veterans have at least initiated a claim.  The Army has completed disbursement of almost $200 million.  Currently, we have many cases to work through over the next few months.  However, as the October 21 deadline approaches, we’d like to see more claims in our system.

Image Courtesy of US Army Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay Facebook Page

Through our work over the past year, we have learned a great deal about stop loss and the mentality of Soldiers and veterans.  Many of those the Army has contacted directly are skeptical about this pay.  This pay is real.  The Army’s average payout is around $4,000.  Many of those who hear about this program from a friend aren’t sure they qualify.  The Army is encouraging everyone who believes they served under stop loss to submit a claim.  Our case management team will review your submission and make a determination.  If you think you qualify, you should apply.  If you know of someone who may qualify, please tell them to apply.

We have read and heard some of the great stories born from this program.  For many Soldiers and veterans, this is money they never expected to receive for their extended service.   Mathew Ecker, whose son SPC Michael Ecker passed away after separating from the Army, received notification from the Army that his son was eligible for retroactive stop loss pay.  As a beneficiary, our office worked closely with Mr. Ecker to ensure his experience was easy and successful.  He wrote to us, “I just wanted to send you a thank you. Each time I contacted your office concerning stop loss, the staff was pleasant to talk with, patient, and knowledgeable. Their help alone made this process flow without any problems. You are free to share my experience, so others might benefit.”  We endeavor to provide the same level of assistance to all claimants, specifically focusing on those who have been wounded and survivors.

I encourage everyone to visit our official Facebook page—US Army Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay—to read more about other experiences people have had with the program.  To apply for retroactive stop loss pay and learn more about eligibly requirements you can visit the Army’s site directly at https://www.stoplosspay.army.mil

This blog is part of an ongoing series on Rectroactive Stop Loss Pay.  Learn more by visiting the Department of Defense’s Retroactive Stop Loss Pay Special website today.

We’d like thank Major Roy Whitley for his contribution.  The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Major Whitley and do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.