Hundreds of Iowa National Guard troops recently learned that they will, indeed, receive the back compenation due them from their extended overseas duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Apparently, members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry were not allowed to take advantage of a program known as Post Deployment and Mobilization Respite Absence, or PDRMA.
PDRMA allows service members who were deployed for extended periods in both Iraq and Afghanistan (along with certain deployments in other areas) additional time to reintegrate back into the civilian world, as well as aiding in retention of service members who had experienced long tours. However, members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry, along with more than 20,000 other U.S. soldiers, were unable to take advantage of this program due to a bureaucratic delay in its implementation.
Nearly 800 members of the Iowa National Guard were among those caught in the bureaucratic delay. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) was a lead co-sponsor of this legislation, which was part of the Defense Department Authorization Bill which President Obama signed into law in October of 2009. Since the bill's signing, Guard members have been waiting for implementation guidelines to make their way through the Defense Department's red tape. Now, finally, these troops will receive all the back compensation due them, and it is assumed they will receive their payments by March 19th. This is welcome news to soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry, which was one of the longest serving Iowa Guard units in Operation Iraqi Freedom, who have been waiting for this delay to be cleared and receive what they were owed.