New Schumer Study Shame Of The Service: 41% Of NY Reservist Families Now Suffer Deep Economic Hardship While Breadwinners Serve In Iraq

Failure endangers future reserve enlistmentsSenator, joined by reserve families, announces new push in Washington to right this wrong New Schumer Standing With Our Troops Tax Credits would encourage employers to keep paying reservists salary while serving overseas

Standing with Long Island and New York City reservists, military families and small business leaders, US Senator Charles E. Schumer today released a study that includes the newest data on New York military reservist families and finds that nearly half of them some 41% are losing significant amounts of income while serving. Schumer today also unveiled a new plan to give tax breaks to employers who pay the salaries of activated reservists while the reservists are abroad fighting the War on Terror which would cut the financial drain on reservist families.

Its the shame of the service. Reservists give up everything normal in their lives to fly halfway around the world to fight terror, only to take a huge hit in income back at home, Schumer said. If a reservist bought a house at his old salary and his wife and kids are still living in it, no bank is going to cut his mortgage 60% just because thats the salary hit hes taking to do his duty. We need to step up to the plate to help companies keep the jobs and paychecks coming until the reservists come back home to us.

Schumers new study uses the latest troop data available from the Pentagons Defense Manpower Data Center (as of December 1, 2004) and finds that more than 7,400 New Yorkers, including 2,406 from New York City and 733 from Long Island, are currently in activated status in the National Guard and Reserves. While these personnel are away from home fighting the War on Terror, their families often have trouble making ends meet. When reservists are activated, they receive the same pay as active duty military, except in very rare circumstances. However, military pay is determined by a combination of rank and experience, so different reservists are paid different amounts. In 2004, active duty enlisted military personnel paygrades started at $27,013 and officers paygrade started at $41,856, according to the Uniformed Services Almanac. For 2005, pay rates will be about 3.5% higher.

These figures do not include combat and other special pay. For a soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, they could get on a monthly basis $225 in hostile fire pay, $250 in family separation pay if they have dependents, $100 in hardship pay in some cases, and a $105 in per diems. All told, soldier could be getting $680 a month on top of the figures above.

But data from the nonpartisan and independent federal Government Accountability Office finds 41 percent of National Guard and Reserve drilling unit members reported income loss during past military operations, and senior officers in the reserve component reported average losses of $5,000 in income. For our troops, this loss in pay leaves great strains on the homefront. Troops are forced to devote attention to whether their families can pay the bills, which diverts attention away from their mission. Families that are struggling with emotional strain of a spouse and parent being away and in harms way also must deal with the financial strain of lost income.

In some cases, businesses who employ these reservists will continue to pay the difference between activated members civilian salary and their military salary. Schumer said today these employers are true patriots because this sacrifice can end up an expensive endeavor for small businesses especially with the nowfrequent extensions of tours of duty. In addition, small business employers often have a difficult time finding temporary workers to fill while the reservists are serving, since the new employees know that the reservists can come back to claim their old jobs.

Schumer today released the following report detailing the number of reservists in New York serving active duty as of November 31, 2004 (source: Defense Manpower Data Center, DOD)

Click here to view chart

Schumer also released the following breakdown of activated reservists by arm of the military for New York State:

Click here to view chart.

Schumer today also detailed a new plan that he and the other members of the Senate Democratic Leadership team introduced as legislation on Monday, the Standing With Our Troops Act of 2005, which includes provisions to boost income security for the families of New Yorks reservists currently serving active duty and to encourage more of their small business employers to pay the income difference while they serve. Also known as S. 11, the Standing With Our Troops Act was the very first bill introduced by the Democrats in the Congress. It will:

" Create federal tax credits for employers to make up for 50% of the reservists pay gap. Standing With Our Troops would provide a tax credit worth 50% of the salaries that employers are continuing to pay activated Guard and Reserve employees to make up for the income gap the reservists suffer while abroad. The tax credit would be applied on the companys federal income taxes and would be worth up to $15,000 per employee. It is designed to reward patriotic employers who keep paying these salaries and encourage more employers to do so.

" Create federal tax credits to help small business owners and manufacturers hire temporary workers: Standing With Our Troops would also provide a $6,000 federal tax credit to help small businesses hire temporary workers to fillin for activated employees and a separate $10,000 credit for small manufacturers to hire temporary workers.

Last week, Schumer formally joined the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which is in charge of all taxwriting legislation in the Senate.

The War on Terror is unlike any other war were ever fought, and were fighting it with an military unlike any weve ever had. Our military is more effective than ever not only because our men and women in uniform are better trained, but because so many of them are reservists who are a little older and have a little more realworld seasoning. But that experience comes with important jobs and important obligations theyre leaving behind back home and we need to create a way to help them keep those obligations, Schumer said.

Schumer was joined today by military families including Francis Robinson Mercer, whose husband is currently serving in Iraq, Suffolk County Police Officer and Iraq Reservist Veteran Major Michael Simonelli (originally from Sheepshead Bay), Robert Farkas of the Association of the US Army, Ralph Ranald President of the Manhattan Reserve Officers Association and the former President of the Department of New York State Reserve Officers Association, and Nancy Ploeger, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

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