Volume 17, Number 40 | February 25 - March 3, 2005

Bill for National Guard

Hundreds of soldiers from the New York Army National Guard who lent their services for 315 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are not receiving retirement benefits for that time period, which has prompted Rep. Carolyn Maloney
(D-NY) to introduce legislation to correct the unfair treatment.

Supported by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Maloney introduced legislation last week to ensure that the soldiers who served in disaster areas after Sept. 11 receive federal military retirement credit for more than 300 days of service. Ten other New York representatives, including Lower Manhattan’s Jerrold Nadler, joined Maloney and her Republican co-sponsor in supporting the legislation.

The peculiar situation arose because many of the soldiers guarding the World Trade Center site after the attacks were not officially put on federal active duty – they were officially under the governor of New York. Other soldiers from the same unit, the 1st Battalion, who were sent to West Point to help secure the U.S. Military Academy, have received the appropriate retirement credit.

“The 1st Battalion was the first National Guard unit on the scene, at a time when Lower Manhattan was insecure, and they lent a great deal of security,” said Joe Soldevere, director of community outreach for Maloney. “There’s a great inequity here, and we feel [the correction] is something that should be done.”

Many of the soldiers affected by this inequity are now being sent to Iraq and are not in New York to further support their case. But because the legislation has bipartisan support, Maloney’s office feels it has a shot at passing it through Congress.

“I can’t say if it’ll go through or not, but we feel good about its chances,” Soldevere said.

— Divya Watal

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