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Troops Deployed Against Ebola to Get up to $400 Per Month in Extra Pay

The 633 MDG packaged and delivered a modular medical treatment center, as part of the effort to support humanitarian relief operations in Ebola-stricken African nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman)
The 633 MDG packaged and delivered a modular medical treatment center, as part of the effort to support humanitarian relief operations in Ebola-stricken African nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman)

Troops sent to West Africa to support the effort against the Ebola epidemic will be eligible for at least $150 per month and possibly up to $400 per month in extra pay, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The deployed troops will receive $150 per month in hardship duty-location pay, which is retroactive to the day of arrival after 30 days, said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman.

Additionally, troops will be eligible for $250 per month in family separation pay, for those with dependents, which is also retroactive to the day of arrival after 30 days, Christensen said.

The extra pay would be for deployments to Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone, Christensen said. Pentagon officials have said that possibly 4,000 troops or more would deploy for up to a year to combat the spread of the virus that has hit hardest in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Most of the troops will be based in Liberia while others were deploying to Senegal, which is to be an Intermediate Staging Base for the shipment of supplies and personnel into the region. Senegal has been relatively free of Ebola, with two reported cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). There currently are no plans to send troops to Sierra Leone.

About 363 troops currently are in West Africa – most of them in Liberia and about 100 in Senegal, the Pentagon said. The number was expected to rise Thursday with the arrival in Liberia of 100 Marines and four Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in Liberia.

The hardship duty-location pay was different than imminent danger pay that usually is issued in combat zones and amounts to $7.50 daily up to a maximum of $225 per month.

The epidemic has killed more than  3,800 in West Africa since the first cases were reported late last year, according to the World Health Organization, the number of cases reported has escalated in recent weeks.

In a videoconference call to a World Bank meeting in Washington Thursday, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma pleaded with the international community to speed up aid shipments. "Our people are dying," he said, from "a tragedy unforeseen in modern times."

In a news conference Wednesday, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC said that the support of the military was vital to containing the epidemic.

 "The challenge is how rapidly the disease is spreading," Frieden said. "It's going to be a long hard fight."

"We can't make the risk zero here" in the U.S. unless the disease is brought under control in West Africa, Frieden said.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@monster.com

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