For Immediate Release - March 16, 2007

Governor Patrick Urges Defense Officials to Keep Danger Pay for Massachusetts Troops

Governor Patrick Urges Defense Officials to Keep Danger Pay for Massachusetts Troops

BOSTON - Friday, March 16, 2007 -Governor Deval Patrick today urged Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to reconsider reducing "imminent danger pay" for approximately 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard currently serving as peacekeepers in Kosovo.

The Department of Defense is considering a plan to cease imminent danger pay for these soldiers, who constitute nearly one third of the 1,700 troops assigned to Kosovo. The $225 per month pay cut would come midway through the soldiers' deployment.

"If implemented, such a reduction in benefits would have a devastating effect upon the families of those serving," Governor Patrick said. "They have budgeted for a certain level of income and to reduce that midway in the deployment would pose a real hardship. I call on you to reconsider any reduction in pay and allowances for currently deployed forces and to take all steps to prevent this reduction from occurring."

Media reports indicate continuing violence in Kosovo, as it seeks to gain independence from Serbia.

The Department of Defense, in reclassifying these troops, is also seeking to stop other benefits, such as free flights home for soldiers for soldiers returning to the United States on leave, tax exemptions, and bonuses.

The letter from Governor Patrick to Secretary Gates is as follows:

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March 15, 2007

Honorable Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
Pentagon
Washington, DC 20318

Dear Secretary Gates:

There are currently approximately 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard serving as peacekeepers in Kosovo. These brave men and women comprise about one third of the United States armed forces in that nation.

It is my understanding the Department of Defense is considering a plan to cease imminent danger payfor these troops, and that such a termination would affect those currently deployed. If implemented, such a reduction in benefits would have a devastating effect upon the families of those serving. They have budgeted for a certain level of income and to reduce that midway in the deployment would pose a real hardship.

As you may know, Massachusetts makes up the difference in pay for public employees who are mobilized in either the Guard or Reserves. Only a relatively small number of the 500 deployed are public employees eligible for this benefit. As such, the planned reduction will negatively affect the overwhelming majority of Massachusetts peacekeepers serving in Kosovo.

I call on you to reconsider any reduction in pay and allowances for currently deployed forces and to take all steps to prevent this reduction from occurring. I thank you for your consideration.