I am sure you have heard about the “bonus” scandal at the Department of Defense. In case you haven’t, here is a little background on the matter. In 2001 we were attacked by terrorists. Our Military was about to go into a war in Afghanistan in order to weed out those terrorists.
The Army was short of people to wage a new war, so they started a recruiting effort. In that effort, they offered bonuses to specialists in certain fields. That means, if you qualified to enter specific fields and were willing to take the risk, you were paid a bonus.
Here is where it got a bit messed up. Some recruiters went way too far. They started offering bonuses to just about everyone. Especially National Guard recruiters like in California.
This came to light a few years ago. The Army had an audit conducted to find out why so much money was paid out in bonuses. The audit found these discrepancies and determined at about $37 million were paid out in bonuses to the wrong people.
In the aftermath, several “recruiters” were criminally charged for filing false recruiting papers. Some even went to jail. But, the problem got worse when the Army started sending out letters to thousands of veterans saying they received the bonus wrongly and would have to pay it back.
Now, it is common for the government to demand repayment for wrongful payouts. However, this is usually done when there is a pay problem and a member gets more in their paycheck than they should.
The service tells the member that “you know how much you should get and should have reported the error.” I had that happen a couple of times myself. And, I had no problem paying back the money.
However, this was not a typical “pay” problem. These recruits were promised the bonus by the recruiter, and as far as they knew, it was theirs to keep. Therefore, making them repay this bonus is wrong by the Army.
There is a thing called the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals where the recruits can go to get a waiver on their bonus payback. However, the law does not allow this office to make a “blanket” ruling so everyone does not have to payback the bonus. Each person must submit an individual case.
This is where Congress comes in. In 2014 the National Guard went to Congress to get legislation passed to waive the paybacks for all affected soldiers. That was a reasonable thing for the Army to do.
As usual, this request fell on deaf ears of the Republican controlled Congress. They took no action and the problem still exists. Now, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) says it is “disgraceful” to expect these service members to repay the bonus.
Why didn’t he do something two years ago? The California National Guard is the hardest hit in this problem. His state’s National Guard. So, why when it was brought to the attention of Congress in 2014 didn’t he act? He further said”
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.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) also from California sent a letter to Ash Carter about the incident.
I find it difficult to believe that either you or your leadership team was aware that such a boneheaded decision was made to demand repayment – and I ask that you utilize your authority to influence a solution including a possible legislative fix if deemed necessary, that’s in the best interests of the individuals and families Impacted.
Both of these men are correct. The people impacted should not have to pay back the bonus. However, they are just passing the buck again. The Army went to Congress, and these two wonderful “supporters of our troops” did absolutely nothing” when asked for legislative help two years ago.
Now that they are in a big election year, and this mess has finally hit the media, they are “shocked, shocked” that such a thing could happen. Congress has been the biggest thorn in the sides of vets since it came into being. This current Congress is the worst veteran support Congress in history, as far as I am concerned.
So the next time you hear your Republican Congressman tell you how he supports the troops, ask him about this mess and watch him lie and squirm his way out of it. Congress could have solved this problem two years ago. Now they are trying to blame everyone but themselves, again!
The Army tried to get Congress to fix this problem legislatively to help their people. The Republican controlled Congress failed to act, as usual. This is exactly why we cannot afford another Republican Controlled Congress.