Talk about a kick in the head.
According to Newsmax, it turns out that almost 10,000 soldiers in the California Army National Guard who received reenlistment bonuses years ago in return for adding years to their original service terms, years that included deployment to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, are now being served with demands from the Pentagon to give that money back.
The real source of the trouble here appears to be a less-than-honest effort on the part of the California Guard to hit enlistment targets. A federal investigation has revealed that millions given out to Guard members in the form of bonuses and student loan repayments should have never left the government’s coffers.
Deputy commander of the California Guard, Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, said, “At the end of the day, 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.”
There’s no question that it’s the soldiers themselves who have received the very shortest end of the stick in all of this. Newsmax tells of Christopher Van Meter, a former captain in the Army and recipient of the Purple Heart, who was handed a bill for $46,000 by the government for his share of improperly-dispensed bonuses and benefits – Van Meter was given $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses, as well as $21,000 in the form of repayments of student loans.
Van Meter says, flatly, “These bonuses were used to keep people in. People like me just got screwed.”
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large