Pension Benefits under "USERRA" rights sign now

I am an employee for the New York State Supreme Court for over 24 years. About 5 years ago, state employees were given the opportunity to buy back military time, during a war or conflict according to the US Statutes recognizing this period. I bought back the maxium allowd by New York State law, three years. I am still a member of the US Navy Reserves and was mobilized on Jan/02 to Sept. 02. I was stilled employeed by the State of New York as I am today for military sevice. I was told that I am protected by "USERRA" an agency by the United Stated Dept. of Labor overseeing veterans and reservists rights. Two weeks ago, I was notified by the New York State Pension System that I was not entitled to the time I was mobilized for during 2002. As a result they took a year from the three year buy back with the obsured reasoning that went beyond three years of military service.
The totally disagree with the State Pension Pystem on several counts.
1. I don't feel it was the intension of the United Stated to take away benifits from a person employeed by a state agency as it states under "USERRA" when deployed volunterelly or involunterelly.
2. "USERRA" states that a reservist or guard member deployed; should be given the same benfits on his civilian job as though he never left the job ie. Health benefits, pension, tenure, promotions etc. when he or she returns to work.
2. According to the New York State Retirement System, if I am deployed again, which is a very good chance I will be, they will delete another year from my "buy Back" time which will result to one year instead of the initial three.
In conclusion, I am due to retire this year on a proposed state "buy out". To be included in this "buy out" a state employee with the Unified Court System must have a total of 30 years. I now fall short of one year and possible two years if I am deployed again.
This ruling by the NY State Pension System is a slap in the face to every veteran or active reservists member and sends a clear message that the militery is not respected and is treated as a second class system.
Lastly, ruling like this can affect military morale to the point where citizen soldiers or sailors will not want to serve anymore.

Petty Officer 1st class
Sonny Tannenbaum

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Katharine SandovalBy:
Entertainment and MediaIn:
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US Congress

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