Lawmaker demands action on California enlistment bonus recall

A California congressman urged the Defense Department and members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to rescind a call for National Guard members in his state to pay back enlistment bonuses of $15,000 or more that were paid out to them years ago because of mismanagement of the incentive program.

The call from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) comes in the wake of an Oct. 22 Los Angeles Times article that reported that about 10,000 members of the California National Guard have been ordered to repay enlistment or re-enlistment bonuses they were granted during the height of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Issa condemned what he called the California National Guard’s “outrageous decision to punish nearly 10,000 current and retired veterans for the incompetence and wrongdoing of others.”

“Due to extreme mismanagement of this bonus program that was discovered in subsequent years, the Department of Defense has decided to renege on its commitment and order the repayment of these enlistment bonuses,” Issa wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter. “The Department of Defense should immediately halt the retrieval of these debts, and when Congress returns in November, I will insist this issue be permanently resolved with language in the National Defense Authorization Act awaiting final passage in both chambers.”

Issa demanded that DOD inform his office of steps the department plans to take to resolve the issue “in a way that makes whole every one of these veterans.”

The lawmaker sent a similar letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. 

Reader comments

Tue, Oct 25, 2016

But if DOD owes you anything, it'll take twice as long for them to cough up a dime, if they ever even pay up.

Tue, Oct 25, 2016

That is a mismanagement of $150M or more. It should be paid back if it was paid out in error. For example - If IRS had erroneously paid out $150M in tax returns would be OK to say, "Well, it wasn't the tax payers fault. It would a hard for them to return it so let them keep it."

Tue, Oct 25, 2016 Steve LaFata

SECDEF...FIX THIS! You would never get away with this with Defense Contractors...Why our Guardsman...

Tue, Oct 25, 2016 Sergio California

Finally, someone who speaks out for others and not just themselves. As a retired military member after 25 years of service, it makes me feel used and abused when I hear that our superiors would blame us the service members for the mistakes and wrong doing of others above us. We all volunteered to serve and if the DOD offered us an incentive, then that just made it that much better. For all us, it was the ability and honor to serve and protect our country not the money. Some of us military personnel would be place in financial hardship if we need to repay the money that was promised in the contract we signed with DOD and their promise to pay.

Tue, Oct 25, 2016 DK

This is the most outrageous thing I have ever heard of, recalling this money after so many years. First of all, these Guard member received this money in good faith as their reenlistment bonus. Something that continues to go on in the military to this day. Guard soldiers are not federally protected as the Military Reserve Forces are, they are under the State Governor, unless during war time. Having served in the Guard many years ago, I know not all of these troops get military leave from the civilian jobs. I know in the past where some had to take their vacation time to attend their required 2-week summer training. I remember a time when some lost their jobs, because they had to attend this training. Having retired off active duty back in 2009 with my last assignment at the Pentagon, I know there are many guard soldiers who have served more time in a combat theater then active duty troops. Now, to go back and REQUIRE these troops to pay back money that was NOT their fault, is down right stupid. I agree with REP Issa that DoD should put a halt to this now, and those who have repaid their bonus, receive the money back. I'm not in CA., but I plan to write my Congressman and SENs to be sure they are aware of this. My god, how we are treating our military is nothing short of shameful.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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