It was recently announced that members of the California National Guard who were deployed overseas would have to pay back enlistment bonuses to the government.
The troops were deployed nearly ten years ago, and the Pentagon offered bonuses to encourage enlistment. Average bonuses were around $15,000. However, it turns out that only certain enlisted soldiers in specific intelligence, civl affairs, and non-commissioned officer roles were eligible for these bonuses, according to CNN.
The call-back from the Pentagon was going to set people back an extraordinary amount of money, dollars that these people had come to depend on. Because of the government’s mistakes, those who served in the military were going to be forced to give that money back.
However, the Pentagon is issuing a reversal of that order.
BRUSSELS – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop seeking repayments of enlistment bonuses given to California National Guard members who served overseas.
His decision comes in the wake of angry reaction from members of Congress who demanded he relieve the burden on the Guard members. And the White House said President Barack Obama has warned the Defense Department not to “nickel and dime” service members who were victims of fraud by overzealous recruiters.
In a statement issued during a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels, Carter said effort to collect reimbursement should stop “as soon as is practical” and will continue until a process to help the troops deal with the problem is worked out.
It is a good thing that those who received these bonuses are not being forced to give them back. Granting of enlistment bonuses to those who were not eligible is a bad mistake that is the fault of the government, not the soldiers being deployed. The soldiers and their families should not have to suffer hardship for mistakes made by top Pentagon officials.
Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long history of reckless handling of finances by the Pentagon. I recently reported on how the Pentagon cannot account for over $6.5 trillion in its budget. That’s trillion with a T.
Yet where is the outrage? It’s almost non-existent. Maybe it’s because we don’t fathom how much a trillion really is.
Nonetheless, the Pentagon needs to be reined in. Their pattern of reckless spending is not one that can be tolerated. (And, no, effectively punishing the troops for top officials’ mistakes is not an option).
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