The Minnesota National Guard was a key component of the "surge" in Iraq. 2,600 of them recently wrapped up a 22-month tour. On paper, 1,161 of them were serving a 729 day tour, extended for the surge to 22 months. A 730-day tour would have triggered the GI Bill and earned the soldiers money for school back home. But the Pentagon's not paying. Deployments were written for 729 days, and that's that. Now some of the soldiers are speaking out.
The soldiers are "victims of a significant injustice" Minnesota Guard spokesperson Lt. Col. Kevin Olson told NBC.
"I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers," said 1st Lt. Jon Anderson, who explained to NBC that soldiers would have been getting $500 to $800 more each month.
More from the story:
Now, six of Minnesota's members of the House of Representatives have asked the Secretary of the Army to look into it -- So have Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman.
Klobuchar said the GI money "shouldn't be tied up in red tape," and Coleman said it's "simply irresponsible to deny education benefits to those soldiers who just completed the longest tour of duty of any unit in Iraq."
Anderson said the soldiers he oversaw in his platoon expected that money to be here when they come home.
"I had 23 guys under my command," Anderson said. "I promised to take care of them. And I'm not going to end taking care of them when this deployment is over, and it's not over until this is solved."
National Guard soldiers, if you're out there, do pipe up in the comments section below.
College students, if you're out there, City Pages declares the month of October 'Take a Soldier to Class Month.'
Somebody's got to support the troops, no? At least that's what the President says.