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Sieben authors bill to pay guard troops

State Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Cottage Grove) announced Friday she is authoring legislation that would provide $10 million in back pay owed to Minnesota National Guard members with state money to be refunded later by the federal government, according to a press release.

The back pay is owed to about 2,500 Minnesota National Guard members -- most of them members of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Divison -- who served overseas for an extended period of time, according to an e-mail from Capt. John Hobot, public affairs officer for the Minnesota National Guard.

Minnesota National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division spent 22 months on active duty from 2005 to 2007, the longest deployment by any U.S. military unit in the Iraq War, which entitled them to the benefit called Post Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence pay, Hobot said.

Federal legislation passed in October 2009 gave the Department of Defense until October of 2010 to implement guidelines for dispersing the benefit, Hobot said.

Sieben's bill would direct the Commissioner of Management and Budget to make $10 million available to the state's Adjutant General, who would then determine who receives payments based on their active duty status in July 2007. No payments will be made if any member has been fully compensated for their service at that time by the federal government, according to the press release.

"When this issue is resolved at the federal level, the money Minnesota receives will be deposited in the Special Revenue Fund to make it whole," Sieben said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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