NEW YORK, NY (August 4, 2017) – Today, in response to a report by the Los Angeles Times that the Pentagon had missed the deadline set by Congress to review the errors that led to the recoupment of benefits for over 17,000 servicemembers and veterans and to pay them back, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) demands action by the Pentagon. IAVA led the campaign to #PayThemBack in October, when news of this scandal broke, and worked with members of Congress to ensure that the Pentagon was held accountable. After we launched the campaign, Congress passed legislation that would force the Pentagon to right this wrong. The recent news that the Pentagon missed its deadline is disappointing and harmful, as veterans continue to suffer due to financial hardship.
“This issue may have faded from news headlines, but it is far from resolved. It’s been nearly a year since this scandal came to light, and far too many military families continue to experience stress due to financial uncertainty. IAVA strongly supports a fix for this shocking breach of trust that removes the outrageous bonus repayment requirement for all National Guardsmen,” IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff said.“Congress did its part to create a fix. Now the Pentagon must do its part to complete its review and pay back those veterans affected.”
In 2010, a federal investigation found that thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were erroneously awarded to guardsman who re-enlisted in a time of war when their country needed them most. Instead of forgiving these overpayments that happened at no fault of the servicemember, the California Guard completed an audit in September 2016, requiring 9,700 current and former soldiers to repay all or part of the bonuses, with interest. It has also been reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere that servicemembers in other states are faced with similar challenges.
IAVA is standing by to help veterans that have been affected by this egregious mistake. If you are a veteran in need, please reach out to our Rapid Response Referral Program team (RRRP) for assistance. We encourage all Americans to stay connected and informed via IAVA.org and the #PayThemBack hashtag.
Note to media: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.