Washington, D.C. – The Senate unanimously adopted Sen. Mike Lee's (R-UT) amendment to the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which directs the Secretary of the Navy to continue the pay and benefits of Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis.
While serving in Japan, Lt. Alkonis was involved in a deadly car accident caused by the sudden onset of Acute Mountain Sickness. Subsequently, the Japanese court sentenced him to three years imprisonment. Sen. Lee expressed his deepest sympathies for the victims' families while noting that an American servicemember should not be disproportionately punished for an accident resulting from a medical emergency.
The Navy informed Lt. Alkonis that due to Department accounting rules, his pay and benefits would continue only until his leave expired. With his leave expiring on December 28, he faced losing compensation and his family's access to benefits.
Sen. Lee drafted the amendment after the Department of Defense failed to grant an Exception to Policy request that would have continued his pay and benefits. Sen. Lee's amendment directs the Secretary of the Navy to continue the pay and benefits of Lt. Alkonis and his family.
On the passage of his amendment, Sen. Lee said, “I'm grateful to my Senate colleagues for standing with the family of Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis. As Lt. Alkonis sits in a Japanese prison on the eve of Christmas, we cannot leave his family wondering how they will feed themselves or keep a roof over their heads.”
For full text of the amendment, click HERE.