Last week, the Pentagon went off the deep end by demanding thousands of the California National Guard members repay enlistment bonuses they received a decade ago:
“Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.”
Here are a few updates since this story broke.
In 2010, a whistleblower stepped forward “claiming that as much as $100 million had been illegally disbursed to soldiers.”
Two years ago, the Calfornia National Guard told its members of Congress that the Pentagon was attempting to take back these bonuses but did not take action.
But, on Tuesday, Oct. 25, an article reported three California congressmen (Rep. Sanchez, McCarthy, and Pelosi) as well as Senators Feinstein and Boxer stepped forward to have their say in the matter. So, where were they two years ago?
Then on Wednesday, Oct. 26, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the Pentagon to cease attempting to acquire the enlistment bonuses. He also said that the “Pentagon will “look into” and “resolve” the enlistment bonus issue, though he didn’t elaborate on how the issue could be resolved.”
Questions still remain, though. What about those members of the guard who have struggled to meet the Pentagon’s demand and have already suffered extreme financial hardship?
For example, Former Army captain and Iraq veteran Christopher Van Meter refinanced his home in order to repay $25,000 plus $21,000 in late fees. And, he also repaid $21,000 the Pentagon demanded for a student loan.
Van Meter commented:
“These bonuses were used to keep people in. People like me just got screwed.”
One former helicopter pilot (Lt. Col., Ret.), who served three tours in Vietnam, commented:
“If you think any money you received from the government is yours, you are mistaken. The government can take it back regardless of time. This (story) is a prime example of the government screwing the military personnel. And it is going to get much worse. The government can renege on any contract made with a military person, even after that military person has completed his part of the contract, as shown in this article. We have no recourse. We cannot sue the government unless the government allows us to sue, and it doesn’t.”
He ended his statement with a dire prediction about our future military servicemembers:
“It does not look good for pay, allowances, medical, retirement, and anything else that will cost the government money.”
One thing we do know for sure: 2016 Presidential candidate Donald Trump staked out his positions on our military and a 10 Point Plan for veterans and the VA. Most believe that he would indeed keep that promise. And this ridiculous issue would never had occurred in the first place!