|Robert D'Andrea, a retired Army Major, has been toldhe has to|
repay $20,000 in enlistment bonuses because
recruiters improperly issued the bonuses. So he's being
punished for somebody else's misdeed. Photo by Al Seib/LA Times.
A couple days ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter suspended the clawbacks of bonuses given to Californial National Guard members.
It's possible the clawbacks might be reinstated at some point, at least for some people, though that's in doubt.
And what do you do with the people who already repaid the bonuses, which were given improperly, though the people that received them had no idea they were given the money wrongly.
Congress might step in and wipe the slate clean for everybody involved. But you can't trust Congress with anything these days.
It was nice of Ash Carter to suspend the clawbacks, but why did he, along with everybody else, wait to take action until bad publicity, courtesy of the LA Times, caused the uproar?
THAT, I'd like to hear.
I guess when you don't need extra soldiers to fight your wars, you throw them under the bus.
That seems to be the case with nearly 10,000 California National Guardsmen, who were enticed to serve with bonuses of up to $15,000 to fight in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times, which broke the story Saturday, tells us.
Says the LA Times:
"Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses - and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse - after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade."
In other words, the California Guard brass improperly offered the bonuses, but its the soldiers who took the bonuses that are being punished, even though they had no idea the bonuses were improper.
The soldiers, understandably, are angry the Pentagon is reneging on ten year old agreements and imposing terrible financial hardships on veterans.
As one of many examples, The LA Times cited Robert Richmond, 48, who received a bonus, and then received permanent back and brain injuries in a road side bomb blast in Iraq. The Pentagon is trying to claw back more than $19,000 in bonuses, penalties and interest from Richmond.
He's too far in debt to qualify for a home loan, and doesn't know how to pay back the money.
"I signed a contract tht I literally risked my life to fulfill.....We want the somebody in the government, anybody, to say this is wrong and we'll stop going after this money," Richmond told the LA Times.
So far, it does not appear the crooked leadership of the California Guard is getting in all that much trouble.
After a federal investigation regarding the bonuses started, Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, California Guard's incentive manager, pleaded guilty to filing $15.2 million in false claims and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, the Los Angeles Times said.
OK, fine, but, again, why are they punishing the soldiers who took the bonuses in good faith?
As always, it seems, the mucky-mucks don't get screwed for their misdeeds. Instead, their victims get victimized again.
Aren't you proud to be an American?
Now that the Los Angeles Times has thrown a harsh light on this scandal, politicians are finally falling all over each other to fix this mess.
The Pentagon says they were required to seek the reimbursements from the soldiers because it was a matter of law, something that only Congress can do.
God save us.
Anyway, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said there would be a House investigation on this issue, and called the situation disgraceful.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle now say they want to change the law to void the repayments.
Where were they, though, before the shit hit the fan and the publicity struck? After all, I'm sure some of these soldiers and veterans who were being harassed to repay the money contacted their local Congress Creatures, asking for help.
Couldn't legislation have been introduced before so much of this heartache happened? The Los Angeles Times said Congress has known about this situation for two years and did nothing. Why?
I hope this isn't another case where we make soldiers risk their lives and throw them away. Can't we do better than this?