This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
The Defense Department isn't known for its family-friendly policies, though the "modern" Army understands better today that families play an important role in a soldier's overall performance. One of the Pentagon's most unpopular policies implemented after 9/11 has had a devastating effect on military families. It's called stop-loss.
When placed under stop-loss, tens of thousands of reserves and active-duty soldiers were prevented from leaving the military when they planned if they were to be deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq. The reason for stop-loss was simple enough: The military would have been stretched too thin, especially after the Iraq invasion, if it didn't delay plans by thousands of soldiers to muster out.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this policy breaks faith with military families, and last week announced that he would work to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the practice over the next two years. What changed is the Obama administration's plans to reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq faster than they are increased in Afghanistan – plus the expansion of the active-duty Army roster to more than 547,000 troops.
This surely was welcome news to soldiers and their families. Right now more than 13,000 soldiers are unable to leave the military because they are under stop-loss orders. The policy undercuts families' plans and causes extra hardship. For that reason, and to restore the broken faith he spoke of, Mr. Gates also said the Pentagon would provide an extra $500 per month to troops under stop-loss, retroactive to last October. This is only fair. These soldiers – their plans on hold, their risks extended – deserve no less.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.