Lynch Introduces POW/MIA Accounting and Recovery Support Act of 2013

Apr 12, 2013

Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, today introduced H.R. 1520, the POW/MIA Accounting and Recovery Support Act of 2013, joined by lead Republican cosponsor Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson of Pennsylvania.  This bipartisan legislation, also supported by Rep. Danny Davis (IL-07), Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-26), and Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05), would better ensure that ongoing efforts conducted by the Department of Defense’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) to locate and recover the remains of unaccounted-for American service members are not delayed due to sequestration.  

As recently announced by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Department of Defense (DoD) plans to furlough as many as 800,000 federal civilian workers in response to sequestration cuts to defense spending that took effect on March 1, 2013.  Currently, DoD civilian workers will be required to take 14 furlough days, or unpaid days off, between now and October.  As a result, these federal employees will have to take at least 2 furlough days per pay period with no current exceptions.  Regrettably, this requirement will significantly impact JPAC’s POW/MIA accounting and recovery operations given that their teams are deployed on missions that routinely last between 35 and 45 days.  Moreover, JPAC missions customarily include at least 3 civilian workers, including anthropologists, archeologists, and life support analysts who examine aircraft wreckage.  

“The POW/MIA Accounting and Recovery Support Act will afford our dedicated JPAC civilian employees the flexibility to complete their furloughs after they return from a deployment and thereby allow critical JPAC missions to continue,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch.  “I’ve witnessed JPAC’s world-class research and forensic operations first-hand and I believe that we must make every effort to safeguard the Command against any disruption in its landmark search for our missing and fallen American troops.”  

“This bill allows JPAC to continue on their important mission of making sure our country ‘leaves no man behind,’” stated Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson. “It’s an important promise we made to all our veterans and service members, and this bill will protect JPAC’s civilian employees while they are on deployment.”

Specifically, H.R. 1520 would require the Secretary of Defense to allow any DoD civilian employee who is required to take a furlough that would otherwise occur during their deployment in support of JPAC accounting and recovery operations to take their furlough after returning from their mission.  

JPAC currently employs over 400 joint military and civilian personnel and maintains four permanent detachments in Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Vientiane, Laos; and at the United States European Command in Germany to support recovery operations. Presently, the Department of Defense estimates that there more than 83,000 Americans still unaccounted-for from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other prior conflicts.