Published: Oct 01, 2010 11:17 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 01, 2010 8:07 PM EDT

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Of the 35,000 service men and women in Charlotte County, not one has contact the local veteran services office to sign up for their Retroactive Stop Loss compensation benefits.

"We have not had a single inquiry so far on this and the program's been in place for about a year," says David Donohew with Charlotte County Veteran Services.

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to Dec. 3, 2010, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they’ve earned.

That's because about 80,000 troops have yet to claim their money.

"Any service member regardless of branch who was involuntarily extended, and the key word is involuntarily, because of the current war can be entitled to up to $500 a month for each month that they were involuntarily extended," says Donohew.

 If you're not sure if you're eligible, Donohew says it never hurts to ask.

"We'll tell you whether you're eligible or not. If you are, we'll tell you where to go, what to do and how to do it and we'll see if we can put some extra money in your pocket."

To apply, or for more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to http://www.defense.gov/stoploss.

“It’s important that all those eligible for this benefit take the opportunity to apply for what they’ve earned,” said Lernes Hebert, acting director, Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management.  “We encourage those eligible to apply as soon as possible, to avoid the last minute rush, which can increase processing time.”

RSLSP was established to compensate military members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009.  Eligible members or their beneficiaries are required to submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.  The original deadline for claims was Oct. 21, 2010.

When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible.  Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts throughout the year.  Efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue throughout the period of eligibility.