The Obama Administration has issued an order for the Pentagon to halt their demand for enlistment bonuses of nearly 10,000 National Guardsmen who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to be repaid. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service issued a statement arguing that the soldiers were not qualified to receive the bonuses, regardless of whether they served multiple tours of duty, and that accounting errors had caused improper payments to them.
California soldiers have been contacting local Congressional Representatives about the issue for the past two years. Despite their attempts, Congress hasn’t done anything to stop the request that soldiers repay the money they were given. Nearly $70 million was spent to fill quotas, and the Pentagon is now looking to get that money back.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said that some soldiers knew they were ineligible for the incentives they were receiving but many were not aware. Roughly 2,000 soldiers were asked to repay the extra money in accordance with the law. Carter said that they would not hold soldiers responsible for unethical conduct brought on by someone else, but the Obama Administration would like to get the investigation, which has been going on for a few years, moving.
Paul Rieckhoff, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has expressed his approval of the decision, but he still feels that more should be done. He understands that soldiers’ have returned from war and are now in financial despair. Although it is good that some things have been put on hold, it doesn’t address their current needs. Thousands of soldiers will have to wait for the results of this investigation until next year. Rieckhoff feels that the honorable thing to do would be to pay back the soldiers with interest.
The war against ISIS/ISIL has cost American taxpayers $11 million per day. The military budget for the United States is roughly $600 billion per year, and the Pentagon has misplaced about $8 trillion of that in the past several decades.
You can contact your senators and sign a petition to encourage the President to forgive the money that will help underpaid servicemen and women provide for themselves and their families.