WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A U.S. senator says he wants to know why more than 100,000 service members never got money owed them after being forced to extend their war zone tours of duty.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., wrote to the Pentagon Tuesday asking what has been done to alert members of the armed forces who were forced to extend their military obligation in Afghanistan or Iraq they are due thousands of dollars, ABC News reported Wednesday.
Starting in 2001, almost 145,000 men and women, most from the Army, were subjected to involuntary extensions of their tours of duty when the Pentagon initiated "stop loss" orders.
A bill initiated by Lautenberg requiring the Pentagon to compensate affected service members passed in October, but since the special one-year, retroactive compensation program went into effect, not more than 20 percent of servicemen and women have received the $3,000 to $4,000 due them, Lautenberg said.
"I am concerned that more than 100,000 service members who qualify for these payments may never receive them," Lautenberg said in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
"It's been difficult to track many of these individuals down," said Maj. Roy Whitley, project manager for the Army's special retroactive stop-loss pay program. "We're talking about a group of young individuals who are finished with their military service and who tend to move around a lot."
The War Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, funded with more than $500 million, ends Oct. 21, ABC said.