Rep. John Kline's bill would restore benefits to returning Guard membersby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Republican Rep. John Kline wants to restore benefits to returning National Guard troops who will lose nearly a full month of paid leave.
Thousands of Minnesota Red Bulls soldiers are expected home from the Middle East in May. Under a 2007 Pentagon policy, troops who served multiple tours were eligible for four additional days of paid time off for every month they were gone. Now, instead of four days, Minnesota Guard soldiers will get one, depriving the returning Guard members up to 27 days of benefits they were promised. The change could affect more than 800 Minnesota soldiers.
A bill Kline proposes would grandfather in Guard members who were deployed when the change took effect. He said the time off is critical to help troops get back to civilian life.
"And this leave time lets these soldiers come back, spend family time, sort of decompress, give them an opportunity to perhaps go and look for work," Kline said.
He hopes to get the bill on the House calendar in the next couple of weeks. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.