By Todd Starnes
Every now and then a story crosses my desk that gets me riled up. This is one of those stories.
The Los Angeles Times reports that as many as 10,000 soldiers who were given bonus money to reenlist have been ordered to repay the cash.
During the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – the California National Guard was faced with a manpower shortage. So they offered massive enlistment bonuses to entice soldiers to re-enlist.
But now, a decade later, the Pentagon says they want that money back – with interest.
The Times reports that the California Guard mismanaged the bonuses and as many as 10 thousand soldiers received too much money.
It was not an isolated problem. There are reports of bonus money mismanagement in all 50 states.
Soldiers who refuse to repay the bonus money could face garnishments and tax liens.
“These bonuses were used to keep people in,” said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran.
Capt. Van Meter, who was awarded a Purple Heart for his combat injuries, had to refinance his home to repay his signing bonus.
“People like me just got screwed,” he said.
The California Guard says they have no choice but to follow the law.
To be clear – the soldiers did nothing wrong. In fact – they went above and beyond the call of duty by reenlisting.
Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, the deputy commander of the California Guard, told the Times they are sympathetic to the soldiers’ plight.
“At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” he told the newspaper. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”
The Pentagon needs to step up and do the right thing. They should immediately rescind any garnishments and tax liens and honor the original signing bonuses.
It’s time for us to stand up and defend those who defend us. Call your representative in Congress today and demand they pressure the Pentagon to stand down. Click here to find your member of Congress.
Those who wear the uniform of this great nation have already paid their debt — and then some.