A great many of media reports have exposed a recent development in the military world, a develop that has many outraged. Because soldiers are being forced to repay their bonuses, with interest, that were awarded in wartime. The Pentagon is asking for its soldiers to repay them for wartime bonuses they originally gave.
It’s unthinkable that you would be asked to repay your bonus that you got at war. Let alone, it seems ridiculous to repay your bonus, at all. When you re-enlist, one of the few positive notes that day – because signing off more years of your life is not the climax – is the knowledge you’re going to receive a hearty bonus. That bonus grows the longer you’re in the military. It’s an incentive to gain extra training and become more indispensable. It’s supposed to be the army’s way to say thank you for staying on board and helping out.
In 2010, a federal investigation found thousands of California National Guardsmen were given bonuses and student loan payments without proper authorization. The investigation found these soldiers weren’t qualified for the student loans and bonuses at the time they received them. The Pentagon opted to not forgive the payments. The reason and high politics are unknown at this time.
Instead of forgiving the payments, the Pentagon wants them back, with interest. Imagine if your friend did that? Let alone Uncle Sam.
No forgiveness and instead the California Guard completed an audit in September of this year, 2016, that created a requirement for 9,700 current and former soldiers who must repay these payments. There are some reports that soldiers in other states are facing the same dilemma. This feels wrong, doesn’t it?
If you feel for these soldiers, please reach out and communicate it with your representative. Congress is the funding agent for the DoD and they have the ability to influence this repayment issue. It’s not their fault that the Pentagon gave them money. The onus is on the Pentagon to not recreate the mistake in the future. There ought to be a hearing and effort to discover what happened – to not repeat it, again.
Many soldiers aren’t rich – in fact, virtually no federal employee, while enjoying a steady paycheck and lifestyle – isn’t necessarily sitting on enormous savings accounts. Many soldiers might live off their monthly paychecks that barely cover a life with kids and a mortgage. It’s unreasonable to expect soldiers to repay their bonus. Because, usually, when we get the bonus, it’s the largest sum of money we’ll have, except sometimes immediately redeploying back to the United States. In both cases, the money is earned via service to the country. It shouldn’t be susceptible to a return policy.
Today, media outlets reported that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop reclaiming bonuses. In short order, a temporary release from this drama has transpired. However, it’s likely not over and there’s a root cause for the reclaiming of these bonuses in the first place. Whatever it is – it’s the right thing to do to find out. Those who have already paid deserve to see that money returned. The Pentagon owes it to the taxpayers to figure out what’s happened here and not repeat this mistake.
For Americans who are upset by this – call your congressman, write an email to their Military Legislative Asssistant (MLA). A relatively simple Google search of your member’s office can reveal your MLA’s public emails or contact. It’s the people’s house, so give them a call and voice your opinion so that this does not happen again.
Featured image courtesy of AP