FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2007
Kagen Secures Combat Pay For Kosovo Troops Pentagon Drops Proposal to Cut Benefits
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D. announced the Pentagon has dropped its proposal to cut combat pay for Wisconsin National Guard members serving on peacekeeping missions in Kosovo.
Congressman Kagen and fellow Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota urged Defense Secretary Robert Gates to continue to reward our brave men and women for their service while in harm’s way.
Department of Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin confirmed late Thursday that the pay for our troops will not be cut.
“Our brave troops are serving in harm’s way and must be paid accordingly,” Congressman Kagen said. “Our troops have already made a sacrifice serving in the defense of our nation. I’m pleased they will continue to receive the benefits they have earned in Kosovo. This decision shows the Defense Department recognizes the reality on the ground over there. I’m happy to stand up for our troops.”
The loss of imminent-danger pay and other benefits would have cost soldiers hundreds of dollars each month in combat pay, exemption from federal withholding taxes, eligibility for low-interest loans and loss of free R&R flights home.
About 1,700 U.S. troops — active duty, Guard and Reserve members from around the nation — are deployed to Kosovo, with most serving as part of the NATO peacekeeping force. Ninety-two members of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 1st Battalion 147 Aviation unit are serving in Kosovo. Three of the Guard troops live in the 8th Congressional District.
Congressman Kagen and fellow Congressman Tim Walz, who served in the Minnesota National Guard, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urging him to drop the Pentagon’s proposal to reclassify Kosovo as a “non-combat mission.”
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