To Amend the NYS Military Credit Buy-Back Law

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    Vets for Vets
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A Petition to Amend the New York State Retirement and Social Security Law (The Military Buy-Back Service Credit) Article 20 to allow all US military veterans with a character of discharge of honorable or general to buy back three years of their military service regardless of where they served or what their residency is.


The New York State Veterans Buyback Law specifically excludes any honorable discharged veteran who served after the Vietnam era who was not assigned to a war zone.

The current law allows veterans who served in certain combat theaters or during certain periods of wartime to purchase and receive credit for up to three years of military service creditable in all retirement plans offered by the New York State and Local Retirement Systems.

The law lists eligibility for the buyback for all those who served during World War II (12/7/41-12/31/46), the Korean War (5/27/50 1/31/55), and the Vietnam Era (2/28/61 5/7/75). However, after the Vietnam Era, the law levies the additional requirement that veterans must have served in "the theater of operations including Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and the airspace above these locations (8/2.90 to present); or, if you served in one of the following military conflicts and received an Armed Forces, Navy or Marine Corps expeditionary medal in connection with this service: Lebanon (6/1/83-12/1/87); Grenada (10/20/89 1/31/90); Panama (12/20/89 1/31/90). Navy Instruction 1650 series, The Awards Manual, states that in order to receive an expeditionary medal, you must serve in the area of operations (AOR) described by the ALLMIL (all military) message issued by the Department of Defense prior to any operation.

Its worth noting that prior to the Vietnam Era, when no combat service is required, the military operated under the draft system. After the Vietnam Era, the United States went to the "All Volunteer Force." In addition, for every soldier, sailor, airman or Marine sent into combat, there are many others in support rolls attending to the logistics for those on the front lines.

During the Persian Gulf War, I served as Reserve Coordinator for Military Sealift Command. Paramount to my duties was activating naval reservists for logistics support that eventually led to the scheduling and supervision of some 369 cargo ships traveling from the both coasts of the continental U.S. as well as several ports in Europe to transport the rolling stock, equipment and supplies for 500,000 troops who served the Persian Gulf AOR.

Those who manned the ports in Bayonne, NJ, Jacksonville, FL, Savannah, GA, Oakland, CA, Bremerton, WA, Houston, TX, Naples, IT, London, UK, Bremerhaven, GE, Port Said, EG, Yohohama, JA, and others performed a mission that was vital to our ability to win the war. Yet, under the current law, none of these sailors are eligible for the buyback if they are now working for New York State, nor are any military personnel eligible for the buyback if they are not assigned to forward deployed combat units, even now during the War on Terror.

Nor are any service members who served as part of the peacekeeping force in the republics of the former Yugoslavia, or in the evacuation of Americans from Liberia (Operation Eastern Exit), from the Philippines when Mt. Pinatubo erupted (Operation Fiery Vigil), or who served in the relief efforts to Bangladesh in 1992 (Operation Sea Angel). Members of the military who served in New York City after the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, (Operation Noble Eagle) similarly are not eligible unless they served during the Vietnam Era or have one of the campaign medals described above. Nor oar those who responded to a host of natural disasters both at home, for example, Huriricane Katrina; and abroad, the Tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, to name a few.

None in the military ultimately determine where they serve, since they serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States. Duty assignments are at the convenience of the government and the respective services. Those who serve honorably should be afforded the same right to buy back that service time regardless of where that service was rendered.