By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 7, 2010; B03
Hundreds of thousands of eligible troops are passing up thousands of dollars in back pay but still have until Dec. 18 to recoup the money, according to the Defense Department.
Congress extended the deadline last week for about 145,000 eligible troops, veterans or their surviving spouses to apply for $500 per month served on stop-loss status.
The special pay was established in October 2009 to compensate troops whose tours of duty were involuntarily extended under stop-loss orders since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Applications continue to roll in, but only $256 million of the $534.4 million set aside for the program had been claimed by the end of November, according to the Defense Department.
The Pentagon has struggled to convince troops that they're eligible for back pay and is actively pushing for eligible people to apply for the funds. President Obama even made a personal appeal to troops in September.
Applying online is a faster, more efficient way to get funds, the Pentagon said. Eligible troops and beneficiaries may visit www.Defense.gov/stoploss for more information and application forms.