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National Security Desk / October 24, 2016

Pentagon Reneges on Recruitment Bonuses

Soldiers and veterans must repay money from 10 years ago.

America’s soldiers and veterans are getting worked over once again by the Obama administration. First we learned of the travesty of bureaucratic malpractice experienced by many veterans for years at the hands of the VA. Then there’s been all the social engineering and budget cuts. Now the Pentagon has ordered at least 9,700 California veterans and current soldiers to repay re-enlistment bonuses they received 10 years ago. At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the California Army National Guard was under pressure to meet enlistment demands and offered bonuses to many soldiers that recent audits concluded were erroneously awarded. With threats of interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens should soldiers refuse to pay, the Pentagon has so far pickpocketed these Patriots for $22 million.

Many soldiers say they feel betrayed. Former Army captain and Iraq veteran Christopher Van Meter, who was awarded a Purple Heart, said, “These bonuses were used to keep people in. People like me just got screwed.” Van Meter refinanced his home mortgage to pay back a total of $46,000 for a $25,000 re-enlistment bonus and $21,000 in student loan repayments the Pentagon says was given to him improperly. Some soldiers and veterans are attempting to fight repayment, but others have given up, saying the stress of looming financial uncertainty should they lose was too much.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) promised an investigation, saying, “It is disgraceful that the men and women who answered their country’s call to duty following September 11 are now facing forced repayments of bonuses offered to them. Our military heroes should not shoulder the burden of military recruiters’ faults from over a decade ago. They should not owe for what was promised during a difficult time in our country. Rather, we are the ones who owe a debt for the great sacrifices our heroes have made — some of whom unfortunately paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

One wonders if recovery of these bonuses is the Pentagon’s means for funding its new policy of providing for the “necessary” sex-change surgeries for transgendered soldiers.

> Update: According to the Washington Examiner, “The Pentagon is urging more than 10,000 California National Guard troops, who are being asked to repay improperly-awarded enlistment bonuses, to apply for a waiver to have the debts forgiven.”

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