Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America supporter and former SecDef advisor Mark Jacobson recently wrote a piece for War On The Rocks focused on the fight to hold the Pentagon accountable to the California Army National Guard members being forced to repay reenlistment bonuses.
“When I read a report last week in The Los Angeles Times about the Pentagon demanding that California Army National Guard members repay reenlistment bonuses and student loan repayments earned as long as a decade ago, I wish I could say I was surprised. But as someone who has served in uniform and as a civilian in the Pentagon, I know that such injustices and betrayals of trust are far too common. These bonuses and loan repayments were given as part of retention and recruitment efforts during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when our nation needed more soldiers. Earlier investigations found that about $20 million was improperly dispersed to some California guard officers and enlisted personnel. Now, the Pentagon is not only demanding these guardsmen and women repay the bonuses (even though for most it was through no fault of their own) but they are insisting on ten years’ worth of interest charges as well. Those who cannot make these payments could face wage garnishments and tax liens. Having already battled insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, now these men and women are locked in a struggle against a callous Pentagon bureaucracy.”
“Yes, the Pentagon needs to do its best serve as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, but it also has obligations to do right by those who served their country in uniform. The current policy holds these men and women responsible for something that was not their fault. Eager to boost retention and recruiting numbers, the Pentagon paid soldiers up front without first checking their eligibility. In at least some of the current cases, criminal actions played a role, as in the case of retired Master Sergeant Toni Jaffe who, along with others, submitted false claims for pay bonuses for ineligible personnel. Jaffe was sentenced to 30 months for those crimes. It is clearly wrong, however, for the Pentagon to recoup these funds from those who took them in good faith.”
Read the full article here.
Join IAVA in holding the Pentagon accountable to fix this issue for our vets and #PayThemBack here.