Re-payment of enlistment bonuses by National Guard members should be stopped now

Re-payment of enlistment bonuses by National Guard members should be stopped now

Regardless of the reason, our returning veterans should not be placed in financial hardship by the military they served, and action should be taken to remedy this problem immediately.

In what can only be seen as an embarrassing moment, the Pentagon is forcing thousands of California National Guard servicemen and women to repay re-enlistment bonuses they received as part of a program to alleviate a shortage of military personnel during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Pentagon is saying the bonus payments were improper, and while that may be true, the guard members left their families behind and went to war, risking their lives and health, to answer the call of the military during these times and should not be punished for incompetence or fraud perpetrated by others.

Right now, the issue is only impacting members of the California Guard, but it seems that is the case only because California is the only state that has conducted an audit of the bonus payments.  This leaves the door open to demand re-payment from others across the nation that also received the bonuses.

And the worst part of the debacle is that reports of improper payments to soldiers that did not qualify to receive them surfaced back in 2010, and, according to Andreas Mueller, the chief of federal policy for the California Guard, they alerted Congress as far back as 2014 to the problem, but Congress failed to take action because of the cost involved.

This is unconscionable, especially when considered in light of the wasteful spending that one sees by Congressional leaders every day.  To put these brave women and men in financial hardship, after asking them to risk their lives to defend our country, is approaching new low point, perhaps as low as not providing adequate health care to our retuning veterans.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has called the issue an example of a corrupt system, and blamed the incompetent leaders for the problems.

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she was appalled at the news and has called for Congress to take action immediately to rectify the situation and provide relief for the servicemen and women.

House and Senate leaders echoed Secretary Clinton’s call to pass legislation to provide assistance to the California Guard members, and any future state’s Guard members facing the same situation down the road.  They called for action as soon as the Congress returns to work after the November 8 election.

That’s not good enough.  This needs to be taken care of today.  Many of those impacted by the forced re-payments are already suffering financially, and waiting for a gridlocked Congress to get around to fixing a problem it should have fixed years ago is unacceptable.

President Obama once famously said he had a phone and pen and he could do quite a bit with them. He has shown his willingness to use them to support his ideologies in the past.  I call on him to use that same phone and pen to stop this travesty concerning our veteran military today.

Congress can deal with the cost and the legislation next month, or next year, whenever they come back from spending millions on re-election bids and fund raisers.

Our cherished veterans do not have the luxury of waiting for Congress to act.

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