A new year, another reminder that America’s heroes are too often mistreated by the federal officials who are supposed to look out for them.
Here’s the backstory. Last October, the California National Guard attempted to recoup bonuses from almost 17,500 veterans. Now, taxpayers are expected to foot the bill.
Over a decade ago, the California National Guard mistakenly offered bonus incentives to Guardsmen ineligible for extra enlistment money. Only recently, the Pentagon noticed the error and ordered the California National Guard to recover the money.
Veterans who could not make immediate repayments to the Pentagon were assaulted by interest charges, wage garnishments, and tax liens. Soldiers who bravely toured in Iraq and Afghanistan faced destroyed credit and loss of assets.
After national outrage, the Department of Defense (DoD) temporarily suspended efforts to grab back bonuses. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter declared that as of January 1, 2017 there would be a “new process” in place to manage the repayment process.
Less than a week into the new year, the DoD reports that fewer than 1,000 Californian veterans will be required to repay the bonuses. In addition, those who have made payments to the Pentagon are eligible for reimbursement. As part of the new process, the DoD will contact credit bureaus and attempt to help veterans repair damaged credit.
The new problem, though, is that the process will cost millions of dollars. No one should be surprised that, after failing to steal money back from veterans, the Pentagon is sticking taxpayers with another bill.
Unfortunately, this bureaucratic mismanagement of an earlier bureaucratic error proves that once again there is a lack of oversight at the Pentagon. The fact that the nation’s veterans are being held accountable for an error the government made is disrespectful to their sacrifice and service.
This entire incident underscores the need for Congress to pass reform that prioritizes Pentagon spending and increases transparency. America’s heroes deserve a government that works for them, not against them.
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