Arlington, VA – Today Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the DOD Finance and Accounting Service team is suspending efforts to grab back bonuses from California National Guard veterans until Carter is “satisfied that [the] process is working effectively.” Carter asserted that as of January 1, 2017, a “streamlined, centralized process” will be adapted and that by next July – nine months from now – he hopes that the decision-making process on all cases will be resolved.
This reaction comes on the heels of the recently-exposed bonus repayment scandal at the California National Guard. Currently, roughly 10,000 soldiers in California – many of whom served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan – are being ordered to repay enlistment bonuses given to them by the Pentagon over a decade ago. If the veterans are unable to pay back the money, the Pentagon plans to use interest charges, wage garnishments, and tax liens to recoup it.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Executive Director Mark Lucas issued the following statement:
“It’s mildly encouraging that Secretary Carter has paused Pentagon efforts to take money away from veterans, but his solution misses the mark. The problem here isn’t the ‘process,’ it’s the fact that forced veteran bonus repayments are happening at all. Adjusting the program with the hope of a resolution nine months from now is an insufficient solution. The answer to this problem is an immediate waive of these bonus repayments and legislation that will prevent Pentagon waste, fraud, and abuse from ever affecting American veterans again.“
CVA is urging members of Congress to act quickly to waive the bonus repayments. Yesterday, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform launched an investigation on this issue.
The California Guard has a history of bonus overpayments and fund mismanagement.