Tag Archives: 9/11

On 9/11 I had one question: Where’s my mom?

Senior Airman Katie Johnson
Air Combat Command

“Where’s my mom?”
Senior Airman Katie Johnson and her mother Carolyn Maricle pose for a photo at Dallas/Love Field Airport, Texas .

I struggled to gain my composure and rally the strength needed to dial the number to my home, where my mom should have been. A precocious 14 year old, I stood frantically waiting for a response, some hint that my mother was okay.

My mother was a flight attendant for American Airlines when two of their jets crashed into the World Trade Center, New York, as well as the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a day that will never be forgotten, not only for me and my family, but for our country as a whole.

The phone began to ring and I began to cry uncontrollably. My intensely frantic moments were spurred by the irrepressible and revolving questions traveling through my mind–did mom have a flight scheduled that day? Where’s my mom?

Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, a calm and reassuring sound echoed from the receiver. It was my mother’s voice answering from the other end.

My cries turned into sobs as I begged her to take me home. I wanted to be with her, to give her the hugs that she and I both needed so very much at the time. Everyone in America needed a hug that day.

Since that Tuesday morning 12 years ago in my freshman English class, I have asked that same question I had in those frightening and tense moments far too many times. Where’s my mom?

Many flight attendants suffered emotional trauma in the following weeks after the tragedy, my mother included. Children with the unenviable title of “Flight Attendant’s Kid” are tight-knit as a result of the trauma of 9-11 and the ongoing danger of the profession.

We struggled more and more with every incident involving any aircraft, not only on U.S soil but around the world. Our breaths would cease and hearts drop whenever we heard of any possibility that the jets carrying our mothers and fathers would take them away forever.

Several instances nearly made these worries become reality.

In 2005, London’s subway system was bombed by four home-grown terrorists. My mother was flying out of Gatwick airport roughly 28 miles away that day. A year later, a plot to carry liquid explosives on a plane in London was thwarted. My mom, once again in London, called me before news broke of the incident to ease my already anxious mind.

Through every event from a train crash in Madrid, earthquakes in Japan and every anniversary of September 11, I would continuously ask myself that same question–where’s my mom?

A flight attendant crew, in my eyes, is an unsung band of aeronautical heroes. Charged with their passengers’ safety, they are ready to protect all on board at a moment’s notice. Their commitment reminds me of my fellow brothers and sisters in arms.

The correlation was so apparent to me that it convinced me to serve my country.

My mother and her colleagues would take my fellow Service members where they needed to go, caring for every man and woman in uniform as if they were family. In turn we would work to ensure that no ill-fate or fear created by acts of terrorism come their way.

My mother is my hero. She continued to serve despite the fear in the hearts of many that tragedy could strike at any moment. I am proud to wear this uniform because of her. No matter where we are, I am not just an Airman, I am her daughter. That fact is what helps make me great.

She retires this month after 41 years of dedicated service to the skies and for the first time in five years only one of us will be in uniform as we reflect on that horrendous day.

Now when I ask “where’s my mom,” I know the answer. She’s safe at home in Texas and that grave question no longer has the power to overwhelm my thoughts, or potentially, break my heart.

PHOTO: Senior Airman Katie Johnson and her mother Carolyn Maricle pose for a photo in front of Air Force One at Dallas/Love Field Airport, Texas.

Never forget

By Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras
Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul

QALAT CITY, Afghanistan — It was a day like any other, but one I’ll never forget; it was beautiful, with the sun rising behind the New York City skyline. I was a seventh grader sitting in class waiting for my teacher to call attendance.

Nothing seemed different from the day prior. Children were in the corner rushing to finish last night’s homework as the teacher was walking in with her bag full of books in her right hand and coffee in her left.

“One of my students says he just saw a plane go in the twin towers,” says Michele Mortoral with worry in her voice as she is rushing into my class.

“Tell him to stop kidding around,” jokingly says Jane Lynch, my seventh grade teacher.

My classmates are rushing to the windows to see one of the twin towers on fire, with dark smoke rising into the beautiful blue sky. The sky is beginning to turn gray, as if it is about to rain. My friends are beginning to panic and the teachers are trying to calm us to the best of their ability. There is fear and worry in the room. I am staring out the window wondering; “Why is this happening…Did the pilot fall asleep…Isn’t there a co-pilot?”

We are starting to wonder where our families are. I’m worrying about where my father could be. He is a messenger and does trips between North Jersey and New York City daily. There are days where he has to go in and out of New York City about six times a day. My mother is at her restaurant taking orders, like every other morning.

The teachers at Lincoln School are working really hard trying to continue class to keep it off our minds, but there is no way that is possible. I switch classes, from homeroom to math class. Ms. Rachel Mullane is teaching in front of the class.

Some of my classmates are staring out the window, looking at one of the twin towers burning the sky with smoke like a lit cigar. Some of them are actually paying attention in class, not understanding how big and historical this is. The rest, like me, are sitting at our desks worrying about our families.

“There is the other one,” someone yells, while pointing out the window. His pointing finger freezes in mid-air while his arm slowly shifts from left to right. He is following the plane like a sniper following a target. The class is in complete shock and very quiet, just watching.

At 9:03 a.m., I am watching a Boeing 767 hit tower two in front of my eyes. I am 12-years-old and my eyes are completely dry and focused, but at least ten other pairs of eyes are tearing. My classmates begin to panic. They feel like running out of the classroom, but Mullane is blocking the classroom door so no one can leave class. Safety is a teacher’s responsibility so it’s understandable.

“Attention!” says a familiar voice over the loudspeaker, “We are under attack but we need to remain calm.”

The voice is Michael Ventolo, my principal and a very happy person, but in his tone, I know this is too serious to think of him as a happy person behind the microphone. Fear and worry have just thickened the air. I can smell it.

“Grovert Fuentes” says Mullane, “Your mother is downstairs. Pack your books, you can go home.” I am relieved to know that my mother is well and I can go home with my mother and little brothers. One of my brothers is five and in kindergarten, in the same school as me. My two-year-old brother is at home with the babysitter.

The look my mother has on her face, I have never seen before. She is a brave woman with lots of courage. Her face reassures me that this is a serious situation.

On the ride home, my mother is telling me how worried she is about my father. She can’t get in touch with him. She’s taking red lights and breaking the speed limit. We arrive home and continue calling my father, but no answer. The cell phone towers are down and we can’t get through. The calls that can get through are giving us the busy tone.

For the next few hours, my mother and I are glued to the television, waiting to hear details. At 9:37 a.m., we find out that the Pentagon is also hit. We do not know what to do, nor what to expect, but we do know that the president is about to come on TV and make a speech.

“Today we’ve had a national tragedy,” says the President of the United States, George W. Bush. “Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.”

Finally, around 11 a.m., my father calls to tell us he is safe, and has just exited the Lincoln Tunnel, but is stuck in New York City. He is also telling us that traffic is frozen and many people are abandoning their vehicles to run through the tunnel, to the New Jersey side.

5 p.m. comes around and my father comes home. Our family is united and we are happy to see each other again.

A decade later, I am away from my family again.

I am a combat photographer standing on Afghan soil with plenty of Taliban around me. Some ask me why I volunteered for this deployment. On Feb. 21, 2010, shortly after my return from Iraq, U.S. Army Sgt. Marcos Antonio Gorra died in the line of combat. He was a hometown friend, who died on this same soil I stand on today. He died for freedom and for those towers.

I’ve been exposed to explosives, rockets, and gunfire, yet, I’m still glad to be where I am now; I’m defending what I saw 10 years ago and trying to keep the fight on their soil instead of ours.

Many ask me my reason for joining and I say, “My biggest reason is because of 9/11. It is a day that I will never forget.”

Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras, a combat photographer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, stands on top of Alexander’s Castle in Qalat City, Afghanistan, July 17, 2011. (Courtesy photo)

Never stop trying

By Master Sgt. Sonya L. Couture
438th Air Expeditionary Wing

As Sept. 11 approaches, I find myself once again in Afghanistan – this time for a year. This mission is different from the last. Instead of supporting missions to “seek out and destroy the enemy,” I am here to train members of the Afghan Air Force on how to do my job, Aircrew Flight Equipment. I’m also teaching them how to manage their people and resources as well as how to solve problems on their own. I assure you, it’s not an easy task with their lack of classroom education and cultural differences.

Thinking back on where I was and what I was doing on 9/11, I’m reminded of the pain and anger I felt at such a senseless act. On 9/11, I saw every one of “them” as the enemy. My anger was boiling over and I wanted all of them eradicated from this earth. I’m sure many others felt the same way as they watched the horrors unfold on the news, replayed repeatedly. What came to mind later as I calmed down were the millions of innocent men, women and children who had nothing to do with these acts of terrorism. I slowly began to realize that 9/11 was not the work of all the people who are Muslim or from the Middle East, but the work of small extremist groups. I reserved my anger for the ones responsible, the factions and groups of extremist Muslims who hate Americans and wish to see us die. I consciously decided it was not right to judge them all on the actions of a few.

However, on April 27 this year, nine of my friends and coworkers were killed by one of the Afghans we were training. It was by far the single, most horrifying experience of my life. My reaction of rage and disbelief was very similar to my feelings on 9/11. I felt an overwhelming anger that sickened me. Why did my friends have to die so senselessly? I felt myself looking at every Afghan I saw with pure hatred.

After the shootings, I struggled to regain my enthusiasm for what I was doing here. How could I help these people, not knowing if their secret agenda was to kill me? On my first day back to work it was clear that “my” Afghans had no such intentions toward me. The sadness and pain in their eyes told me what I needed to know. They feared I would hate them for their fellow comrade’s actions and decide to no longer help them. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t hold it against them. These men didn’t kill my friends. They were trying their best to do what any of us would want; to make a better life for themselves, their family and their country.

Weeks later during a conversation with my Afghan interpreter, I asked him if he thought his country would ever be able to get rid of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the war lords who ravage the country. Were we here for nothing, wasting our time and money? He asked me if the U.S. has ever been able to get rid of all its “bad guys”; those who rob, rape, and murder?

“No”, I said. “Of course not, but we will always keep trying to make it better.”
“That’s all we are trying to do as well,” he responded. His simple statement stuck with me. They should have the chance to try and make a better world for themselves, for the good men who are weak to become strong and capable of fighting the evil men.

I see the innocent children smiling and waving excitedly giving us the “thumbs up” as we convoy down the dirty streets of Kabul. We are hope to them and their future. I visit injured children in the hospital and absorb some of their positive, radiant energy they each have despite their injuries and constant struggles. These kids deserve to have a better life. The men I am training are trying to make this a better place for their families, the same thing we strive for every day and I am proud to be a part of it.

On Sept. 11, on an Afghan Air Force base, we will be reading the names of the 3,000-plus victims who died on that day and raising our flag in their honor. Who would have ever thought we would get to this point? As we pay tribute and honor to those who lost their lives on that day, let us not forget how blessed we are to be citizens of the United States. It is by the grace of God that we did not find ourselves born into a country such as Afghanistan where life is harder and more uncertain than we could ever imagine.

In February next year, I will be on my way home to my family. I will leave this country behind and wish them well in their endeavors to become a better, stronger country. Nothing can change what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, nor bring back the loved ones, family and friends who were lost then or during the war that followed. All we can do is continue to honor their memory, to never forget and to keep fighting for something more; a better world so this never happens again. We will never be able to wipe out all of the “bad guys” in this world….but that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying.

Security Forces 9/11 Ruck March to Remember: Team Hurlburt

By Tech. Sgt. Chad M. Reemtsma
1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron

We started with a sense of pride in the fact that there were only four of us doing what other bases were using four or five times the amount of members we had to accomplish the ruck march. We finished deeply humbled by the supporters’ sincere appreciation of the statement we were taking part in.

Tech. Sgt. Dance volunteered his personally owned vehicle as our transportation due to it having the most practical amount of space for our needs.

We departed July 28, 2011, at around 4:30 a.m. We met Team Columbus at noon at State Police Troop M, east of Brookhaven, Miss. Senior Airman Allen Buning and I took the first leg. We developed a 30 minute ruck / 1.5 hour down time schedule that worked out very well.

At roughly 6 p.m. Staff Sgt. McQuiggin and I brought our team into Monticello, Miss. We were greeted by the town with an escort and supporters on the street led by retired Master Sgt. Tim Lea of VFW Post #4889. The post let us stay the night at the Monticello Baptist Church and the Ladies Auxiliary cooked us dinner and let us use the showers.

At 5:30 a.m. we set out From Monticello, Miss., headed east toward Collins, Miss., and beyond. Around 2 p.m. Tech. Sgt. Dance brought us into Collins and it seemed like the whole town was on Main Street. Fire trucks blocked the side roads as we were led in by the Collins Police Department and the rear was brought up by Covington County who had been with us since Prentiss, Miss. The Collins city mayor was on main street and greeted us with city pins and handshakes. By 6 p.m. July 29 we made it 44 miles. We passed Collins, so we backtracked and headed into town to meet the residents of the Collins VA home. We also met James Sanford and his fellow supporters from the Veterans Outreach organization.

Heading out again at 5:30 in the morning we set out from our stopping point east of Collins toward Laurel, Miss. Around 10:30 a.m. we arrived in Laurel and received escort from the Laurel Police Department and fire dept. They escorted us to Laurel’s Veterans Memorial Museum where all members of the community were represented, from veterans to young people wanting to join the military as well as community leaders. We pressed on and made it several miles out of town before we quit for the night and headed back to Laurel for dinner, showers and lodging. The showers and lodging were provided by the Laurel Police Department, at their police training center located next to the Veterans Memorial Museum. We were treated to dinner by Laurel’s Fraternal Order of Police and the police chief.

We set out from east of Laurel at 5:30 a.m. and headed for our final destination in Bolinger/Silas, Ala. We met that deadline around 5:30 p.m. and headed back to the Waynesboro Fire Dept for the night. Waynesboro had some folks come to meet us and set us up with showers, a place to stay and a great barbecue dinner.

We slept in Aug. 1 and rendezvoused with the Tyndall Air Force Base team at around 10:30 a.m. and organized a change over ceremony and then hit the road and headed home.

Photo: (from left ro right) Staff Sgt. Michael McQuiggin, Senior Airman Allen Buning, Tech. Sgt. Daniel Dance and Tech. Sgt. Chad Reemtsma line up with their squadron’s guidon before heading out for their leg of the ruck march. The previous photo was removed due to some uniform items not being within regulations.

Money is waiting for Airmen to claim it

There’s money out there and it’s waiting for eligible Airmen to claim it.

The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act established Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay, providing $500 for each month/partial month served in stop loss status. Service members, veterans and beneficiaries of servicemembers whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009 are eligible for RSLSP.

To receive the benefit, those who served under stop loss must submit a claim for the special pay. There is still money left to be claimed. The average benefit is about $3,700.

Recently, Lernes J. Hebert, acting director, Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management, for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and U.S. Army Major Roy Whitley, project manager for the Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay, participated in a group interview with the DoD Bloggers Roundtable to discuss this program. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.

Moderator: Mr. Hebert, if you’d like to start with an opening statement, and then we’ll go to questions. And, of course, Major Whitley, if you want to add anything too, be my guest. So, sir, the floor is yours. Please go ahead.
MR. HEBERT:
Thank you very much. Well, first, I want to thank all of you for joining us today. This is a very important program for the department. We’ve been advertising the availability of this retroactive stop-loss pay for military members who served between September 11th, 2001 and September 30th, 2009 for a number of months now.But as we approach the October 21st deadline for getting applications in, the department is going on a full-court press to try and make sure we can get the word out. And to the extent that you find this is a worthy effort, we’ll ask you to ask your followers to tweet, buzz, e-mail or post on this topic to get the word out to anyone who is affiliated with the department. You know, as you may well know, many individuals were asked to stay beyond their initial separation date or retirement date. And in recognition of that service, Congress and the department have in place a statute which authorizes them $500 a month for every month or partial month that they served on active duty in this status. That being said, the department is not treating this as a marathon as we approach the October 21st date. It’s more of a sprint, and — but it’s — in traditional military fashion, it’s a unit sprint. And that means that we’re not successful until we get every member across that line. Every member who wants — who is eligible and wants to apply for this should have that opportunity to do so. But they can only do that if they know about it. And our efforts today and throughout this entire period have been to get the word out through every means possible to those military members, veterans and their families.
In closing, I’d like to let you know that we have all of the information that we’re going to talk about today posted out on www.defense.gov/stoploss, a special website. It has all the links to the service websites. I went and checked it again today. There is a plethora of information out there about how to apply and when to apply, whether or not you’re eligible. But the key point that we’d like you to communicate to your — to your readers is that if there’s any question in their mind as to whether or not they’re eligible, go ahead and apply. Most of the individuals who have gone through the process tell us that it takes no more than about half an hour to complete, and that’s — with many of the average payouts being between $3(,000) and 4,000, that’s a pretty good return on investment.
So that being said, Roy?
MAJ. WHITLEY:
Yeah, I just had a few words, because I know the most important part is the — are the questions for you folks. This is for the Army our third Blogger(s) Roundtable, and I’m thrilled to death that we’re here, you know, in the fourth quarter. And the Army is very aware that we’re in the fourth quarter; we know what that means. So we kicked off a lot of initiatives. I’m sure you want to ask about them. A lot of your folks are hearing about them — posters and our quick-claim process.
And just thrilled to death to give you the update. Thanks for having me again.

Q: About how many service members do you believe are eligible for this? And other than getting the word out to all of them, what is the biggest challenge that the program is facing?
MR. HEBERT: Well, the — to answer your last question first, the biggest challenge is just, as you indicated, getting the word out. We find that many people, once they’re aware of the program, see the inherent value in filling out a simple form and receiving a check fairly shortly afterwards. You know, most of these applications are, on average, taking between two and four weeks to process. That’s a pretty quick turnaround for most organizations, and we’re striving to drive that down towards the two-week part As far as in — the number of eligibles, we don’t have specific numbers, because each service — populations varied over time, and so — and also, Congress passed a law that further restricted that eligibility last year to those individuals who had subsequently voluntarily extended their enlistment and received a bonus. So to answer your question directly, we believe that there’s roughly 145,000 eligible members, but again, that’s a rough estimate, and it really depends on each individual case. What we want to reassure individuals is that they don’t have to make the decision whether or not they’re eligible; they just need to go to the website, fill out the form and apply, and we’ll get them in touch with the right experts to ensure that if they’re entitled to this money, that they receive it as quickly as possible.

Q: How many service members are you still trying to reach? For example, I know the Army estimated that there were 120,000 people eligible for this pay. Service-wide, how many do you still need to reach? And can you provide us a breakdown by service?
MR. HEBERT:
Well, as I indicated, the exact breakdown wouldn’t be possible. But I will tell you we’re trying to reach every eligible member who hasn’t applied. Thus far, we’ve processed over 30,000 applications, and so we’re still in a sprint, as I said, to try and reach the rest of the population.
Q
Thank you. In the past, OSD has been able to say how many people were eligible. And even after the language was added about the bonus, they said, well, that affects about 10 percent. So 30,000, and you have at least 120,000 for the — for the Army, that means you’ve got three-quarters of the people you’re still trying to reach with three months left. What has been the — you know, what is the biggest challenge? And how are you going to meet that?
MAJ. WHITLEY:
I knew this question was coming, so I’m ready for it. The answer is, you knew about the 120,000; that was the folks on the Army’s list going back a number of years. What we had done and we tracked quarterly in our reviews was who was applying from that known list. That’s what we called it: The known list.
Mid-year review, I knew what that status was, and we identified 80,000 folks that we had to contact. So in the third quarter, we did an address hunt and location exercise, and we are finalizing it. In about four days, the last of 36,000 mailers will go out. We’ve already got 50,000 out there now, and we’ve heard back from 40 percent of all the folks we sent out, and we know it’s arriving at 97 percent of the addresses, based on the returns.
So when the Army’s finished with this, which is actually going to be in about 10 days, we will make an attempt to identify, locate and contact the better part of 120,000 folks.

Q: I have two questions, if you don’t mind. First, as a former Guard spouse — we were Minnesota Guard, so there were a lot of people who were extended during that — the surge. Is there a special provision for Guard members? I’m on your website right now, and I’m seeing that the Air Force has e-mail active and e-mail Guard reserve. Should Guard people be going straight to the regular e-mail if they’re Army? Or should they be going to someone there at their armory? Or should they strictly go through this website?
MAJ. WHITLEY:
Actually, they need to go to our website. We have component representatives in my office. We have a (superior ?) officer; that’s me. We have a company-grade officer, which is for the Guard. We have a CW5, chief warrant five. For the reserve component, right out of HRC, human resource command. And we have a sergeant major that helps with the active component, and she is also — she has reserve experience.
Q Great. Great. Because I know a lot of them are, you know — after the last deployment just sort of — they got out, and might be harder to find.
MAJ. WHITLEY
:
Oh, not the Guard, though. The Guard is very particular — one-year enlistments, extensions, six-plus-twos, six-by- twos — they’re very unique. And that’s why we insisted on having a compo rep in our office from the very beginning.
Q Great.
MAJ. WHITLEY:
And I know there’s a lot of phone calls that our captain has been making directly to Guardsmen and to units. We even track it by state, and we contact the states that we think are under- represented based on the number of Guard soldiers of — in that population. We know that certain states are doing very novel things. One state has done a — in six months, they put out a postcard to every Guardsman; another state they put a team together — it was Wisconsin, actually — that are vetting all packets before they come to us. So they’re having a lot of success in some of the states.
Q
That’s great to hear. My second question is, as a spouse, if you think your spouse may be eligible, I know that your website says “beneficiaries”; I’m assuming that is for the lost. Is there anything a spouse can do besides nag? (Laughs.)
MR. HEBERT:
Well, you bring up a good point. I don’t know if other spouses are like mine, but she has a “honey do” list for me that’s quite extensive. And, you know, you just simply push it to the top of the list. And the key is reminding them that that October 21st date is creeping up on us, and so the sooner they can get their application in, the sooner they get the money back in their pockets. Q Okay. I’ll send out the nag alert. Thank you very much.

Q: Question is — again, refers to spouses. Is there any way for a spouse of a soldier, airman, sailor, whatever — who was stop-lossed who has since died to apply for this money?
MAJ. WHITLEY:
Yes. On all the services’ websites, I believe — I certainly know mine — we have an entry that is — has the — you know, what condition. And we have many. We know that going into the program there were just around a few that HRC took care of and we had no visibility of. Every week, we get claims in from surviving family members. And we take care of those one-on-one, and we do as much as the record says we can, and they go to the top of the list.
So if you want priority, it’s first in, first out, unless it’s a surviving family member. And I have a casefinder assigned just for the deceased cases. And that goes for the folks that passed away after they exit the service. We treat them all the same. If you’re a family member — because you’re at a disadvantage. You don’t understand the records. You don’t understand the process. You don’t know what the (ALIRAD ?) is. You don’t know the regs. That’s really our job. So there is no surviving family member that does not get taken care of immediately.

Q: Could you talk about the difficulty in reaching some of these folks, particularly since many of them are now out of the service? Sorry, you detailed some of your efforts in trying to go to Guard bureaus and so forth. But what about the folks who’ve moved or moved from their last home of record that the service knew of? What’s — talk about the challenges trying to get ahold of those people. And what steps have you taken to try to overcome that difficulty?
MR. HEBERT:
Sure. Naturally, the items like the Bloggers Roundtable, the PA announcement, Twitter, Facebook, direct mailings, Federal Register. We’ve — using DFAS notifying. We’re working with the VA, with the various service associations and component associations. We’ve put the word out to recruiting stations.
Bottom line is, we have a very extended military family, as you — as you well know from personal experience.
And so getting the word out through this extended military family to tell a friend is our means of getting to those individuals who are even remotely as — located, and not normally contacting the military installations or organizations.
Q
Okay. And I wanted to ask you also, you mentioned earlier the step that Congress took to restrict this program somewhat last year. Could you please detail that?
MR. HEBERT
:
Sure. Basically, it was to — it restricted it to those individuals who voluntarily reenlisted or withdrew their retirement and subsequently received a bonus, so that they wouldn’t — you’re not eligible if you received the bonus and you’re drawing — in other words, you took a voluntary action. You’re no longer serving involuntary. However, there may be an — a portion of that time that you did serve involuntarily. And under this program, we simply want individuals to apply so that the experts can pore through their records and determine exactly what they’re entitled to.

Moderator: At this time what I’m going to do is I’m going to turn it back over to Mr. Hebert and Major Whitley for any final thoughts. We’re going to be drawing close to today’s roundtable, but I know a number of you are probably going to have follow-on questions, so at that time, if you want to forward them to me and I’ll make sure I send them to both — (inaudible). So, Mr. Hebert, if you’d like to start first, and then I’ll turn it over to Major Whitley.
MR. HEBERT
:
Sure. Thank you very much. Well, first and foremost, again, thank you all for joining us today. As I indicated, this is very important to us. We are trying through whatever means possible to get the word out to the eligible population. We want every eligible member who — or even members who
simply believe they might be eligible — to submit their application. Again, they just have to have it postmarked by October 21st. It’s a fairly straightforward process, about a half an hour of their time. And that being said, we’re going to continue to do everything we can on this end to get the word out. Again, it’s www.defense.gov/stoploss. And if you don’t mind including that link in your post, we’d greatly appreciate it, and asking your followers to tell a friend.
Major Whitley.
MAJ. WHITLEY:
Yeah. Thanks for having me also. I always look forward to these sessions, because I know it’s complicated and it’s hard reaching all the folks.
We want you guys to help us remind folks. I know we have a survey in our quick-claims process, that we ask three questions: Did you know about us before? Was it easy? And did you tell a friend? And the answer we’re getting back is they’re all telling friends, they’re getting the word out. And it’s important that they get their claim in. So pass the word.