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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

SecDef Carter suspends Pentagon's demand of bonuses to soldiers

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is going to allow the thousands of soldiers who were given bonuses to re-enlist ten years ago to keep the money the Pentagon wanted back. The public outrage was just too much to allow the government to pull a "fast one" on our troops in the California Army National Guard.

About 2,000 soldiers were told they had to repay the cash bonuses that amounted to around $10,000 and in some cases up to $15,000.

This call by the Pentagon is perhaps the dumbest decision they ever made.

Soldiers generally live paycheck to paycheck. Imagine being told that if you re-enlisted, the Army will pay you $10,000, then ten years later, after you put it all on the line for your country, the government tells you that they want the money back with interest!

Seriously.

Carter didn't mention any timeframe for the suspension, but said it would remain in place until he was "satisfied that our process is working effectively."

An investigation in 2010 found thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were improperly given out to California Guard soldiers. About 9,700 current and retired soldiers were notified they had to repay some or all of their bonus money and so far, $22 million has been recovered.

Most soldiers felt betrayed by their Uncle Sam.

"These bonuses were used to keep people in," Chris Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain said. Van Meter served in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart. "People like me just got screwed."

Van Meter refinanced his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in re-enlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the military said was improperly given to him.

The California Guard said their hands were tied--they had to follow the law and collect the money. "At the end of the day," began Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, a fan of cliche, "the soldiers ended up paying the largest price. 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."

And let's face it, nobody in government would ever break the law . . . unless their name rhymes with 'schminton.'